I head back toward the missions. Strapped to my back is the very sword that the Brotherhood is missing at the moment. The sword of the House of Romanof. The real sword. Not the sword of the son.
I do not encounter any more Lamprey. Or Snakes. Or Spiders. Or even Crawlers. And I am relieved.
I don’t think I could handle them right now. I am hoping that they were all destroyed when Romanof died. But nothing is ever that simple. Vampires who are turned do not die just because the one who turned them is killed. Why should those diseased monstrosities?
I head into the mountains. and turn south toward Denver. There, I will turn over the samples I have collected. And the notes I took.
From Denver, I will go to the missions and find the girls. And turn over the massive Romanof sword. God, it’s heavy! Much heavier than most!
I love the mountain air. Cool. Crisp. Dry.
Not like the air at home when I was a child. That air was hot. Humid. Filled with misery.
I wonder what it is like now. Is it still hot and humid? Or has it become Hot and dry now that it is a desert? I cannot fathom the possibilities.
All I know is that the region where home once was is now a large radio-active desert. Nothing can live there. Not until at least two hundred years have come and gone. That was what science said when I was still a child. Papa said so.
That means I will never be able to go back. Not yet, anyway. Not that I want to. Too many bad memories. Memories that are still too fresh. Too painful.
From the missions, I must go north. Alone. I must rouse the Firstlings of Valhalla. I must get them to rise and form their armies once more.
Ragnorak is coming. I believe the Bible calls it Armageddon. The endgames. The war to end all wars.
It will decide whether Heaven or Hell gets to rule. And I am determined to help Heaven win. I am already tired of Hell. And I have only lived in it for sixty years. But that is sixty years too many.
I do not know how many more years we will suffer. Just that I will have a hand in ending it. And I cannot wait. But I must. Whether I want to or not.
Denver. Finally. Once I get to city hall and drop off the samples, I can head down the missions in the foothills to the east. I will be glad to be rid of these stinking bags. The stench is getting too much even for me.
I get to city hall. I look at the guard. “Where do I find Dr. Malutus?”
He doesn’t even look at me. “Down the hall and to the left. Office of research and discovery. It is plainly marked.”
I smile. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome, Miss.”
I leave him to his duties. I follow his directions and find the office he had mentioned. I enter. The good doctor is standing behind his desk.
I look at him. “Where do you want this sample of the Lamprey?”
He looks up. “Ah, Cris. so nice to see you. The sample, you ask? Follow me.”
I comply. He leads me through the side door and down the corresponding hall. He goes into another door. I follow. Right into a lab.
He walks over to an examination table. “Put them here.”
I look at him quizzically. “You want me to remove it from the bags?”
He smiles. “Well…yes.”
I shrug and do so. “You will want to be careful. The tongue has thousands of thorn-like fangs. All over the inside of the bulbous end. They were dripping something when it opened and wrapped around the victim’s head. Might be deadly.”
He smiles. “Probably an acid or a toxin that eats the flesh. Thank you for your warning.”
I look at him narrowly. “No. Yu do not understand. It literally ate the flesh off the victim’s head. How the jawbone remained in place is a mystery to me. There was nothing to keep it there.”
He nods. “I will keep that in mind. Thank you.”
I can’t believe it. He just dismissed me. I witness what this thing can do, and he doesn’t even ask questions. I see something that will give me nightmares for years to come, and he dismisses it as if it is just hearsay.
I turn and leave. He has been warned. If he infects himself, then it is his own fault. I am not happy at not being heeded. I just hope he is smart enough not to put the head and body too close together. Otherwise, I have a feeling the thing will heal itself and return to life. I could be wrong, though.
No matter. I must get to the missions. I leave Denver behind. I leave the memory of the Lamprey behind.
In a couple of days, I am standing on a hill overlooking the missions. I can see Sara standing at a corner of the wall, keeping watch. Matti comes out from time to time to check as well. God, it’s going to feel good to be among friends. Even if it is only for a little while.
I start down the hill. Sara looks up and sees me. “She’s here! Sisters! She’s here!”
I can’t help but smile. I am glad I have friends like Sara. But, wait! They are joined by Cyanne! Amazing!
They run to meet me. I start giggling. It is good to be back with my friends. They are hugging me. And leading me down to the convent.
Once we are inside, I look at them. “God, I missed you! All of you! But I am glad you did not have to see what I saw. It was horrible!”
Matti looks up at me. “Are you staying a while?”
I smile.”Yes, for a little while. But I have to go soon. I have to go to Canada and do as I was asked. I have to go wake the Firstlings.”