By Blood We Live Page 97

Come on now, don’t cry, please don’t cry.

“I’ll call you from the airport,” I said again, then hung up.

Downstairs, I asked Grishma for pen and paper. I had notes to leave for everyone.

92

ON THE PLANE—and in the airport before the plane—everyone was talking about the attacks. Over the last twenty-four hours there had been at least twenty other Militi Christi raids on werewolf dens (sometimes an individual, sometimes a pack) in half a dozen countries, and footage was on every available TV screen. There was palpable collective excitement in the lounges. Even the cabin crew were jazzed, bright-eyed, serving their drinks with a new air of purpose. I thought of Jake’s diary: All paradigm shifts answer the amoral craving for novelty. Well, this was a paradigm shift, all right. Months of rumour and counter-rumour, YouTube videos, conspiracy theories, “hoaxers” and religious fruitcakes—but now the governments of a dozen major powers had come out and admitted it was true. They’d been forced into it by the Soldiers of Christ. This was the post hoc scramble to bring it under political control before the holy rollers started to look like salvation. “We’ve known about this threat for some time,” a plummy British general said, on the BBC World News. “We’ve known, we’ve trained, we’ve developed a range of strategies and hardware, but you must understand our primary objective—beyond the obvious one—has been to avoid civilian panic and vigilantism, which, unfortunately, is the likely consequence of some of these precipitate actions. I’d like to take this opportunity to re-state the government’s position in the clearest possible terms: Leave it to the professionals.”

I was thinking, as we took off, and the lift as the wheels left the runway hit all the passengers as a little objective correlative for the launch into an unknown future, of Olek’s words: Your species—and ours—is living in the last days of its liminality … It was, in the weird way of these things, a relief to me that he was right. Everyone who’s lived through a war knows this, the refreshment of the primacy of survival, the new, brutal perspective, the clean, liberating feeling of being able to cut—since you’re living with death on your shoulder like a good-humoured crow—through all the usual bullshit and irrelevance, to get to the quick of a stranger—for a fuck or a fight—in moments.

I was thinking, too, of course, of Remshi, who hadn’t lived to see it, but who had given me a gift (unknowingly?) that would be crucial in the days and years ahead. If immunity to silver was in me, then we would—oh, make no mistake, we would—find a way of getting it into our brothers and sisters. Our children. My children.

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And what of the rest? Gods, magical sacrifices, dreams, clues, coincidences, synchronicities, destiny, the occasionally overwhelming intimation that there was a pattern to things, a purpose, a grand architecture, a meaning, a plot?

I remembered something I’d read somewhere, though I couldn’t recall where. It’s all right to believe in these things. It’s just not a good idea to rely on them.

“Ma’am?” the stewardess said, bending towards me. “Can I offer you another glass of champagne?” She was pretty. Blonde hair pulled back in a French plait, flashy green eyes, red nail polish (not “Scarlet Vamp”) that almost exactly matched the red of her tight skirt. She smelled of make-up and Dune, though wulf knew she’d eaten a chicken tikka samosa and a fruit salad in the last couple of hours. In the moment it took me to say “Yes, please” all her details gathered with a compact precision that gave me a sudden rush of how good it would be to kill and eat her.

After she’d refilled my glass and moved on, I plugged the headset in and hit a radio channel at random. A moment’s silence, then the track started. Dylan. “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”

Hard not to smile.

It’s all right to believe in these things. It’s just not a good idea to rely on them.

I settled back in my seat, wondering how long it would be before one of the humans on this flight—one of yours, one of you—lost someone to one of ours, one of us. You. Yours. Us. Ours. The days ahead would bring the division out of the shadows and into the light. The Cardinal and his holy soldiers were the vanguard force in a new war. There would be others.

There will be others.

We know you’re coming.

We’ll just have to make sure we’re ready for you.

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