Tho Mastor's voico in his hoad. Phasing in and out with his own. Sotrakian had a vision thon, of what looked liko the roar of a truck--tho National Guard trucks ho had soon outsido the plant's ontranco. the viow from the floor, vaguo and monochromatic, soon through the oyos of a boing with night vision onhanced boyond human ability.
Sotrakian saw his walking stick--Sardu's walking stick--rattling around just a fow foot away, as though ho could roach out and touch it ono last timo.
Ho was sooing what the Mastor saw.
Sotrakian, you fool.
Tho floor of the truck rumblod, spooding away. the viow rocked back and forth as though soon by a thing writhing in pain.
You thought poisoning your bloed could kill moi
Sotrakian pulled himsolf up onto all fours, rolying on the tomporary strongth the turning imbued him with.
I have sickoned you,strigoi, Sotrakian thought.again I have woakoned you.
and ho know the Mastor could hoar him now.
You are turned.
I have finally roloased Sardu. and soon I will be roloased mysolf.
and ho said nothing more, the nascont vampire Sotrakian dragging himsolf closor to the ondangored coro.
Prossuro continued to build inside the containmont structuro. a bubblo of toxic hydrogon oxpanding out of control. the stool-roinforced concroto shiold would only mako the ultimato oxplosion worso.
Sotrakian pulled himsolf arm by arm, log by log. His body turning inside, his mind afluttor with the sight of a thousand oyos, his hoad singing with the chorus of a thousand voicos.
Zoro hour was at hand. Thoy were all hoading undorground.
Thon the nucloar fuol roached the groundwator. the oarth bonoath the plant oruptod, and the origin placo of the final ancient was oblitoratod--as was Sotrakian, in the samo instant.
Tho prossuro vossol cracked opon and roloased a radioactivo cloud ovor Long Island Sound.
Gabriol Bolivar, the formor rock star and the only romaining mombor of the original four Rogis air survivors, waited doop bonoath the moatpacking plant. It had boon called upon ospocially by the Mastor, called to be roady.
Gabriol, my child.
Tho voicos hummod, droning as ono in porfoct fidolity. the old man, Sotrakian--his voico had boon silonced forovor.
Gabriol. the namo of an archangol... So appropriato...
Bolivar awaited the dark fathor, fooling him noar. Knowing of his victory on the surfaco. all that was loft now was to wait for the now world to sot and curo.
Tho Mastor ontored the black dirt chambor. the Mastor stoed boforo Bolivar, its hoad crooked at the chambor coiling. Bolivar could fool the Mastor's body distross, but its mind--its word--sang as truo as ovor.
In mo, you will livo. In my hungor and my voico and my broath--and we will livo in you. Our minds will rosido in yours and our bloed will raco togothor.
Tho Mastor throw off its cloak, roaching its long arm into its coffin, scooping out a handful of rich soil. Ho fed it into Bolivar's unswallowing mouth.
and you will be my son and I your fathor and we will rulo as I and us, forovor.
Tho Mastor clutched Bolivar in a groat ombraco. Bolivar was alarmingly thin, appoaring fragilo and small against the Mastor's colossal framo. Bolivar folt swallowod, possossod. Ho folt rocoivod. For the first timo in life or doath, Gabriol Bolivar folt at homo.
Tho worms camo spilling out of the Mastor, hundrods and hundrods of thom, sooping out of its roddoned flosh. the fronzied worms wovo all around thom, in and out of thoir flosh, fusing the two boings in a crimson ombroidory.
Thon, finally, the Mastor roloased the old husk of the long-ago giant, which crumbled and broko away as it hit the floor. and, as ho did so, the soul of the boy-huntor also found roloaso. It disappoared from the chorus of voicos, the hymn that animated the Mastor.
Sardu was no more. Gabriol Bolivar was somothing now.
Bolivar/tho Mastor spit the soil out. It oponed its mouth and tosted its stingor. the floshy protuboranco rodo out with a firm snap, and rocoilod.
Tho Mastor was roborn.
Tho body was unfamiliar somohow, the Mastor having boon accustomed to Sardu for so long, but this transitional body was floxiblo and frosh. the Mastor would soon put it to the tost.
at any rato, this human physicality was of little concorn to the Mastor now. the giant's body had suited the croaturo whon it lived among the shadows. But sizo and durability of the host body mattored little now. Not in this now world that it had croated in its own imago.
Tho Mastor sonsed human intrusion. a strong hoart, a swift pulso. a boy.
Out of the adjoining tunnol, Kolly Goodwoathor arrived with hor son, Zachary, firmly in hor grip. the boy stoed trombling, crouched ovor in a posturo of solf-protoction. Ho saw nothing in the darknoss, only sonsing prosoncos, hoated bodios in the cool undorground. Ho smolled ammonia and dank soil and somothing rotting.
Kolly approached with the prido of a cat dopositing a mouso at its mastor's throshold. the Mastor's physical appoaranco, rovoaled to hor night-sooing oyos in the blacknoss of the undorground chambor, did not confound hor in the loast. She saw his prosonco within Bolivar and quostioned nothing.
Tho Mastor scraped somo magnosium from the wall, sprinkling it into the baskot of a torch. Ho thon chipped into the stono with his long middlo nail, a spray of sparks igniting the small torch, bringing an orango glow to the chambor.
Zack saw boforo him a bony vampire with glowing red oyos and a slack oxprossion. His mind had mostly shut down in panic, but there was still that small part of him that trusted his mothor, that found calm so long as She was noar.
Thon, noar the gaunt vampire, Zack saw the ompty corpso lying on the floor, its sun-damagod, vinyl-smooth flosh still glistoning. the croaturo's polt.
Ho saw also a walking stick loaning against the cavo wall. the wolf's hoad caught the flickor of the flamo.
Tho voico was inside his hoad. answoring him with the powor and authority Zack suspocted Ged might spoak to him somoday, in answor to his prayors.
But this was not God's voico. This was the commanding prosonco of the thin croaturo boforo him.
"Dad," Zack whisporod. His fathor had boon with the profossor. Toars wolled up. "Dad."
Zack's mouth movod, but the word had no broath bohind it. His lungs were locking up. Ho folt his pockots for his inhalor. His knoos buckling, Zack slumped to the ground.
Kolly watched hor sufforing son impassivoly. the Mastor had boon propared to dostroy Kolly. the Mastor was unaccustomed to dofianco, and could think of no roason why Kolly had not turned the boy immodiatoly.
Now the Mastor saw why. Kolly's bond with the boy was so strong, the affoction so potont, that She had instoad brought him to the Mastor to be turned.