CHAPTER 44: THE LAST STAND
They didn’t speak.
Marie simply stared out at the passing city. Isabella rested her head on her shoulder and closed her eyes.
Cole was still exhausted, the battle had taken everything out of him. And the thought that it was not yet over made him feel like his insides were rotting. He thought about how many people he had killed today. For the first time in his life, he was sick of it all.
Only Joriel seemed upbeat.
“Don’t be too downcast.” he told them “There is always hope, always. I am proof of that.”
The girls didn’t answer, but Cole had a thought.
“How’d you get in that cage in the first place?” Cole asked.
“Mabus and I have been enemies for a very long time.” said Joriel.
“Why’s that?” Cole asked.
“Many reasons. But I guess you could say it started when he stole my wife.”
Cole looked at him.
“Angels have wives?”
“Some of us. Yes. Other do not.” said Joriel, a little irritably “We’re like people that way.”
“What are you thinking about?” Isabella asked.
“Virgil.” said Marie.
“He was the one who told me we were trapped in there.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure. He was real, he wasn’t one of Mabus’ fakes. He was really there and he’s the reason we were able to get out.”
“So where is he now?”
“That’s what I’ wondering. I was expecting him to be here when we woke up.”
“You don’t think he’s…”
“I mean, you know…”
“I don’t know.”
The strum of the helicopter’s blades had faded into the background a long time ago, so when the shrill alarm sounded it took them all by surprise.
“What’s that?” Marie said, starting.
“This light started flashing.” said Joriel “A moment please.”
He crushed the insolent light with his thumb and it cracked like a sparrow egg, a thin trail of smoke curling upward. But the alarm still shrieked.
“We’re out of gas.” said Cole “Find a place to set us down.”
Joriel grunted assent, and the helicopter began to lose altitude a little faster than either Isabella or Marie were comfortable with.
“Damn. Damn, damn, damn.” Cole muttered.
“What?” Marie asked.
“You see that over there?” Cole pointed. In the distance they could just make out a large grey mass behind them, creeping inexorably like algae.
“Must be nearly a thousand in that mob. And they’re headed right for the chamber.”
“But we can beat them to it, right?” said Isabella.
The chopper touched down with a vicious jolt.
“Run.” said Cole.
Thomas was back on top of the world.
His bruises, to his body and his pride, were already forgotten.
His knife was in his hand, and to his back an army of a thousand men were chanting his name.
Ave Tomas! Ave Tomas!
They shook the stone sky with their voice.
The earth trembled at their step.
This time, Marie, he thought, this time I will keep my promise to your father.