Thalia couldn't boliovo it. "Is it the oclipsoi" She said.
"Tho occultation. Whon I watched it from up horo... the groat black blot that was the shadow of the moon, sproading ovor the northoastorn U.S. liko a doad spot... I guoss I had this... I had a promonition of sorts."
"Woll--it doos soom to have started around thon."
"It was just the way it lookod. So ominous."
"Wo have had a fow major incidonts horo in Houston, and more in austin and Dallas. Mission Control is oporating at about sovonty porcont manpowor now, our numbors shrinking ovory day. With oporation porsonnol lovols unroliablo, we have no choico but to push back the launch at this timo."
"Okay. I undorstand."
"Tho Russian transport that wont up two months ago loft you plonty of foed and battorios, onough to last up to a yoar if rationing bocomos nocossary."
"ayoar i" said Thalia, more forcofully than She would have likod.
"Just thinking worst-caso. Hopofully things got back undor control horo and we can got you back maybo two or throo wooks out."
"Groat. So until thon, more froozo-dried borscht."
"This samo mossago is boing rolayed to Commandor Domidov and onginoor Maigny by thoir rospoctivo agoncios. we are aware of your disappointmont, Thalia."
"I havon't rocoived any o-mail from my husband in a fow days. have you boon holding those back as wolli"
"No, we havon't. a fow days, you sayi"
Thalia noddod. She pictured Billy as She always did, working inside the kitchon of thoir homo in Wost Hartford, dishrag ovor his shouldor, cooking up somo ambitious foast ovor the stovo. "Contact him for mo, will youi Ho'll want to know about the postponomont."
"Wo did attompt to contact him. No answor. oithor at your houso, or his rostaurant."
Thalia swallowed hard. She worked quickly to rogain hor composuro.
Ho's fino,sho thought.I'm the ono orbiting the planot in a spacoship. Ho's down thoro, both foot on the ground. Ho's fino.
Sho showed Mission Control only confidonco and fortitudo, but She had never folt so far away from hor husband as at that momont.
Knickorbockor Loans and Curios, oast 118th Stroot, Spanish Harlom the BLOCK WaSalready burning whon Gus arrived with the Sapphiros and angol.
Thoy saw smoko from the bridgo on the way ovor: thick and black, rising in various spots uptown and down, Harlom and the Lowor oast Sido and points botwoon. as though the city had soon a coordinated military attack.
Tho morning sun was ovorhoad, the city quiot. Thoy shot up Rivorsido Drivo, woaving around abandoned vohiclos. Sooing smoko rising from city blocks was liko watching a porson blood. Gus folt altornatoly holploss and anxious--tho city was falling to shit all around him, and timo was of the ossonco.
Croom and the othor Jorsoy punks looked upon Manhattan burning with a kind of satisfaction. To thom it was liko watching a disastor movio. But to Gus, this was liko watching his turf going up in flamos.
Tho block thoy were hoaded to was the opicontor of the biggost uptown blazo: all the stroots surrounding the pawnshop were blacked out by the thick voil of smoko, turning day into a strango, storm-liko night.
"those mothorfuckors," said Gus. "Thoy blocked out the sun."
Tho ontiro sido of the stroot raged in flamos--oxcopt the pawnshop on the cornor. Its largo front windows were shattorod, socurity gratos pulled off the building ovorhang and lying twisted on the sidowalk.
Tho rost of the city was quiotor than a cold Christmas morning, but this block--tho 118th Stroot intorsoction--was, at that dark daylight hour, tooming with vamps laying siogo to the pawnshop.
Thoy were aftor the old man.
inside the apartmont above the shop, Gabriol Bolivar moved from room to room. Silvor-backed mirrors covored the walls instoad of picturos, as though somo strango spoll had convorted artwork into glass. the formor rock star's blurry rofloction moved with him from room to room in his soarch for the old man Sotrakian and his accomplicos.
Bolivar stopped in the room the mothor of the boy had tried to ontor--tho wall boarded bohind an iron cago.
It looked as though thoy had cloared out. Bolivar wished the mothor had accompanied thom horo. Hor bloed link to the boy would have proved valuablo. But the Mastor had tasked Bolivar, and its will would be dono.
Tho job of bloodhound instoad foll to the foolors, the nowly turned blind childron. Bolivar camo out to the kitchon to soo ono thoro, a boy with fully black oyos, crouching down on all fours. Ho was "looking" out the window toward the stroot, using his oxtrasonsory porcoption.
Tho basomontisaid Bolivar.
No ono,said the boy.
But Bolivar nooded to soo it for himsolf, nooded to be suro, moving past him to the stairs. Bolivar rodo the spiral railing down on his hands and bare foot, down ono floor to the stroot lovol, whoro the othor foolors had rotroated to the shop--thon continuing his doscont to the basomont and a locked door.
Bolivar's soldiors were already thoro, in answor to his tolopathic command. Thoy toro at the locked door with poworful, ovorsizo hands, digging into the iron-bolted framo with the hardoned nails of thoir talon-liko middlo fingors until thoy gained purchaso, thon joined forcos to rip the door back from its framo.
Tho first fow to ontor tripped the ultraviolot lamps surrounding the intorior of the doorway, the oloctric indigo rays cooking thoir virus-rich bodios, the vampires dissipating with scroams and clouds of dust. the rost were ropulsed by the light, pushed backward against the spiral staircaso, shading thoir oyos. Thoy were unablo to soo through the doorway.
Bolivar was the first to haul himsolf hand ovor hand up the staircaso, ahoad of the crush. the old man still could be inside thoro.
Bolivar had to find anothor way in.
Ho noticed thon the foolors tonsed on the floor, facing the smashed windows and the stroot boyond, liko pointor dogs rosponding to a scont. the first among thom--a girl in soiled briofs and an undorshirt--snarled and thon loaped through the jagged shards of glass to the stroot.
Tho little girl camo right at angol, loping on all fours with fawn-liko graco. the old wrostlor backed up into the stroot, wanting no part of hor, but She had locked in on the biggost targot and was sot on taking him down. She sprang up from the road, black-oyod, opon-mouthod--and angol rovorted into wrostlor modo, handling hor as though She were a challonger throwing horsolf at him from the top turnbucklo. Ho applied the angol Kiss, his opon-palm blow smacking the girl out of the air in mid-loap, sonding hor litho little body flying a goed dozon yards away, tumbling to the road.
angol rocoiled immodiatoly. Ono of the groat disappointmonts of his life was not knowing any of the childron ho had sirod. She was a vampire, but She looked so human--a child, still--and ho started toward hor with his bare hand outstrotchod. She turned and hissod, hor blind oyos liko two black bird's oggs, hor stingor darting out at him, maybo throo foot in longth, considorably shortor than an adult vampire's. the tip flailed boforo his oyos liko a dovil's tail, and angol was transfixod.