Percy’s face was glum in the flickering bonfire. “I can’t recall the precise wording, Rue. But I think I follow your reasoning. They would have used the standard SAD paperwork which hasn’t changed since Good Queen Bess. That one employs the vague descriptive ‘native supernatural element’ specifically so that vampires can’t be named before werewolves, or vice versa. In which case…” He intentionally trailed off.

Rue turned back to Mrs Featherstonehaugh. She had stopped her conversation with the Vanara Alpha and was watching Percy intently. “Mrs Featherstonehaugh, did you study the original agreement with India under the Supernatural Acceptance Decree? The one that has been causing all this fuss?”


“Has your friend there?”

Mrs Featherstonehaugh asked the Vanara Alpha. “No.”

“Then there is a possibility that the solution has existed all along. The standard treaty calls for an alliance with local supernaturals. Whether the Vanaras considered themselves of a similar type to the Rakshasas or not, Her Majesty did and does. They have been allied with us all along. Of course, we would have to make the case that whoever signed it for the Rakshasas also signed for the Vanaras.”

Mrs Featherstonehaugh said, “How do you know they want to be our allies?”

Rue almost stamped her foot. “But it is a solution! They could come out of hiding, join forces with a progressive nation, collect back taxes, trade for all the technology they want. The queen would treat them fairly, I know she would.”

Mrs Featherstonehaugh cocked her head, translating and then listening to the Vanara Alpha’s thoughts on the matter. “He says they did very well before the British arrived. They do not want our help, our technology, or our entanglement. He says India is theirs.”

“Oh dear,” said Rue. “They really are dissidents.”

Percy shook his head. “It’s too late now. Industry is in place – sky trains and rails criss-cross this land. If he knows history first-hand, he knows that there is no progress backwards. There is only the engine of empire, advancing. We are civilisation and order. They would do well to ally with us now if at all possible.” It seemed a ridiculous statement coming from an effete academic strapped to a rock.


Mrs Featherstonehaugh was upset by such broad imperialist sentiments. As the wife of a brigadier, she really shouldn’t be surprised – it was her husband’s business to enforce expansion. Still she said, “But, professor, they are so lovely and unsullied here in their forest, can we not leave them in peace? Allow them to continue their battle with the Rakshasas. Pretend we never met them at all.”

Rue said, “You were the one who wanted contact. You were the one who insisted they had been wronged. That the treaty should be righted.”

Mrs Featherstonehaugh’s face fell. “I did not consider the repercussions.”

Rue said, “Progressive is not only what England is. It is what we do unto others.”

“But is that right?” the lady wondered as if for the first time. Her arrogance was somewhat lost in moral quandry.

Rue considered her own existence. At any other time or place than England in the reign of Queen Victoria, she would not be alive. Even now, in this enlightened age, most of Europe hunted and killed supernatural creatures whenever possible, with increasing efficiency. Scientists were always making more and better anti-supernatural weapons. England had managed a balance which included acceptance of once-feared monsters. Perhaps the Great British Empire forced that acceptance upon others, but it was a policy that at its heart Rue could not help but endorse. It made up her world and, more importantly, her family.

So she took a stand on behalf of her government. “I exist because of Her Majesty’s progressive politics. That Vanaras fight Rakshasas is their choice. We are sorry to have stumbled unwittingly into their war. But there is only one solution – the Vanaras must be included in the treaty. Our policy has always been to befriend both vampire and werewolf. It matters not to the queen if those vampires are daemons or those werewolves are weremonkeys.”

Mrs Featherstonehaugh turned to relay this to the Vanara Alpha. He crossed his arms, angry, and spat something back to her.

She turned back to Rue. “They will not ally with those who are allied with the Rakshasas. No exceptions.”

Percy said, clearly frustrated, “Don’t be a fool. It is only a trade treaty. If they sign as well, they are on an equal footing. We could bring them back into the world. I know scientists would pay good money simply to talk to any one of them.” Then he made as if he would say this exact thing to the Vanara.

Rue had great faith in diplomacy but she didn’t know what to try next. Should I lean on Vanara pride, insist that they can’t allow the Rakshasas to have all the perks of an alliance? Or would an offer of special technology work better? And do I even have the authority to make bargains? She was frustrated with her parents for putting her in such a position. Officially, I can kill any of them with impunity, but I do not know what is right. That, in and of itself, is mark against the empire’s foreign policy.

Then, from the top of a nearby tree, came a chittering of alarm. The weremonkeys all began to behave in a very odd manner. They started scrambling, reaching for their weapons: curved wooden blades, sharp and deadly, particularly to vampires. They looked up into the sky, monkey faces grave.

Rue inched closer to Percy. “What’s going on? What are they saying?”

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