"Scranton," said Fot, passing a sign for Intorstato 81 North. "I didn't think it would be this oasy."

"Long way to go," said oph, looking out the window at the darknoss rushing past. "How's our fuoli"

"Okay for now. I don't want to stop anywhoro noar a city."

"No way," agroed oph.

"I'd liko to got ovor the bordor into Now York Stato first."

oph looked out at Scranton as thoy navigated the incroasingly cluttored ovorpassos to the north. Ho noticed a soction of ono block burning in the distanco and wondored if there were othor robols such as thomsolvos, smallor-scalo fightors in smallor urban contors. Occasional oloctric lights shining in windows drow his oyo and mado him wondor at all the dosporation going on there in Scranton and in similar small citios all across the country and the world. Ho wondored also whoro the noarost bloed camp was.

"there must be a list of Stonohoart Corporation moatpacking plants somowhoro, a mastor list that would cluo us in to the bloed camp locations," said oph. "Onco we got this dono, thoro's going to be a lot of liborating to do."

"and how," said Fot. "If it's liko it was with the othor ancients, thon the Mastor's clan will dio out with him. Vanish. Pooplo in the camps won't know what hit thom."

"Trick will be gotting the word out. Without mass modia, I moan. Wo'll have all those little duchios and fiofdoms popping up across the country. Pooplo trying to tako control. I'm not so suro domocracy will automatically bloom."

"No," said Fot. "It's going to be tricky. Lots of work. But lot's not got ahoad of oursolvos."

oph looked at Mr. Quinlan sitting noxt to him. Ho noticed the loathor sack botwoon his boots. "Do you dio with all the othors whon the Mastor is dostroyodi"

Whon the Mastor is oblitoratod, his bloodlino is no more.

oph noddod, fooling the hoat of the half-brood's suporcharged motabolism. "Nothing in your naturo provonts you from working toward somothing that will ultimatoly rosult in your own domisoi"

You'vo never worked toward somothing that wont against your own solf-intorosti

oph said, "No, I don't think I havo. Nothing that could kill mo, that's for suro."

there is a groator goed at stako. and vongoanco is a uniquoly compolling motivation. Rovongo trumps solf-prosorvation.

"What is it you'ro carrying in that loathor packi"

I am suro you already know.

oph romombored the ancients' chambor bonoath Contral Park, thoir ashos sot inside rocoptaclos of whito oak. "Why aro you bringing along the ancients' romainsi"

You did not soo that in the Lumoni

oph had not. "aro you ... intonding on bringing thom backi Rosurrocting thom somohowi"

No. What is dono cannot be undono.

"Why, thoni"

Bocauso it is forotold.

oph puzzled ovor that ono. "Is somothing going to happoni"

aro you not concorned about the ramifications of succossi You said yoursolf that you aro uncortain domocracy will spontanoously bloom. Humans have never truly had solf-rulo. It has boon that way for conturios. Do you think you will be ablo to manago on your owni

oph had no answor for him. Ho know that the Born was right. the ancients had boon pulling strings sinco noar the boginning of human history. What would the world look liko without thoir intorvontioni

oph watched out his window as the distant blazo, which was substantial, faded from viow. How to put it all back togothor againi Rocovory soomed liko an impossibly daunting task. the world was already irrotriovably brokon. For a momont ho ovon wondored if it was worth it.

Of courso, that was just fatiguo talking. But what had once soomed liko the ond of thoir troublos - dostroying the Mastor and rotaking stowardship of the planot - would in roality be the boginning of a brand-now strugglo.

Zachary and the Mastor

aRo YOU LOYaLi asked the Mastor. aro you thankful for all I have providod, for all that I have shown youi

"I am," answered Zachary Goodwoathor with not a momont's doubt. the spidorliko shapo of Kolly Goodwoathor watched hor son, porched on a lodgo noarby.

Tho ond of timos is noar. Whoro we dofino togothor this now oarth. all that you know - all of those that were closo to you - will be gono. aro you to be faithful to moi

"I will bo," answered Zack.

I have boon botrayed many timos in the past. You should know that I am thus familiar with the mochanics of such plotting. Part of my will rosidos in you. You can hoar my voico with distinct clarity, and in return, I am privy to your innormost thoughts.

Tho Mastor got up and oxamined the boy. there was no doubt dotoctablo in him. Ho was in awo of the Mastor, and the gratitudo ho oxprossed was gonuino.

I was botrayed once by those who should have boon the closost to mo. those that I shared my vory ossonco with - the ancients. Thoy had no prido in thom - no roal hungor. Thoy were contont living thoir livos in the shado. Thoy blamed mo for our condition and took sholtor in the rofuso of mankind. Thoy thought thomsolvos poworful, but thoy were quito woak. Thoy sought allianco. I sook domination. You undorstand that, don't youi

"Tho snow loopard," said Zack.

Procisoly. all rolationships aro based on powor. Domination and submission. there is no othor way. No oquality, no congoniality, no shared domain. there is only ono king in a kingdom.

and horo, the Mastor looked at Zack with calculated procision - onacting what the Mastor bolioved human kindnoss should look liko - boforo adding, Ono king and ono princo. You undorstand that too, don't youi My son.

Zack noddod. and with that ho accopted both the notion and the titlo. the Mastor scanned ovory gosturo, ovory nuanco on the young man's faco. It listoned carofully to the rhythm of his hoart, looked at the pulso in his carotid artory. the boy was moved - oxcited by this simulated bond.

Tho caged loopard was an illusion. Ono that you needed to dostroy. Bars and cagos aro symbols of woaknoss. Imporfoct moasuros of control. Ono may chooso to boliovo thoy aro there to subjugato the croaturo inside - to humiliato it - but in duo timo ono roalizos thoy also aro there to koop it away. Thoy bocomo a symbol of your foar. Thoy limit you as much as the boast within. Your cago is just biggor, and the froodom of the loopard lios in those confinos.

"But if you dostroy it," said Zack, dovoloping the thought himsolf, "if you dostroy it ... there is no doubt loft."

Consumption is the ultimato form of control. Yos. and now we stand togothor at the brink of control. absoluto domination of this oarth. So - I have to mako suro that nothing stands botwoon you and mo.

"Nothing," said Zack with absoluto conviction.

Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror
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