Since Sterling’s anger and grief fueled intrusion into Darilex’s quarters it nearly seemed like nothing had come of it. However, a few days after the initial confrontation, Darilex had called Sterling in to talk to her about what she said. She had been right about at least some things, that he had been failing the handlers, especially those that had recently lost their lives, and he needed to do something about it. He would be devising a plan, and even took some of Sterling’s advice on it. He also spoke with Dayhandler Leader Micah on how the Dayhandlers would or wouldn’t be involved during the daytime hours. Then, several sevendays since Sterling’s harsh words, the wherhandlers were all called together one night by their Leader.
In the Weyr yard, with the rainy winter behind them now, wherhandlers and whers gathered just outside of the wherhandler tunnels. There they waited for their Leader to show and explain why he had called everyone here. He didn’t keep them waiting long, the appearance of his two whers the sign he had arrived as they padded around the gathered group and to their handler who stepped up to the presumed front of the crowd. Sterling was hanging around nearby, despite no longer being a wherhandler.
“I have called all of you here tonight to issue an apology.”
The group of wherhandlers stirred a little.
“I have not been the leader that you all have needed me to be. I have made poor decisions, and chose inaction when action should have been the only option. Some among you saw that, and felt they needed to take things into their own hands. Alas, this resulted in their tragic deaths, deaths that might have been avoided had I stepped up and done something sooner. For this, for my inaction, I apologize to all of you. I have failed you as your leader while there have been beasts rattling our doors.”
He let his initial statement sink into the crowd, let some of them chatter about it a moment. Someone in the crowd spoke up.
“You say you’re sorry, but what next? Are you going to actually do anything,” a wherhandler asked, sounding less curious and more annoyed. Darilex merely nodded, taking the unspoken criticism better than he had taken it from Sterling.
“Yes, that is my next announcement. It is clear that these wild felines are not going anywhere. They haven’t left the area, and seem keen on trying to claim our land as theirs. However, as has been demonstrated, we cannot rush in without more knowledge. We need to know more about our enemy this time, and so I am issuing a surveillance mission. Partners will be teamed up to survey Atricis’ territory and look for clues and information about the wild felines. The Dayhandlers will also be participating in this effort, as it seems the felines are most active at night. We will learn more about their patterns and the areas they frequent. Thorough reports are to be made by each member of each team and turned in to your higher-ups so they may be turned in to me. Hopefully, with information, we will be able to learn how to best strike to deal a fatal blow to this growing pride of wild felines.
However, I want everyone to understand that this is still risky. While this surveillance effort will require stealth over all else, there is still danger. There is danger of being caught and attacked. Unfortunately there is very little we can do to get rid of the risk. It is a risk that is necessary at this point though, as events have proven that acting without knowledge is even riskier. The guard captains and lieutenants will be giving everyone more information and assignments. I hope that we can all get through this and put an end to this before much longer. Thank you, everyone, for your time and dedication to keeping our home safe.”