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.You know that.She knew what my needs were and she agreed to meet them.If she had survived this trip, she would have been well rewarded for her efforts.The fact that she chose to end our contract—”“To kill herself! To take her own life! Those are the words,” he choked out, “—not some vapid euphemism.You killed that girl as surely as if you cut her throat with your own hands.You.”“She knew what I was,” he said quietly.“As do you.And I suggest you come to terms with that knowledge before we reach port, Reverend Vryce.Our enemy is dangerous enough as it is; if we allow ourselves to be divided, what chance do we have to defeat him?”He started to respond—and then forced the anger back, forced it out of his mind.Along with the hatred.Along with the disgust.Because Tarrant was right, damn him.They couldn’t afford to be divided.Not now.“All right,” he muttered.“So what chance do we have? Tell me that.”His only answer was silence.The silver eyes were mirrors that reflected Damien’s own misgivings back at him.So little chance, they seemed to say.Why measure it in words? At last the priest turned away, and he cursed softly under his breath.“I have never lied to you,” the Hunter said.“No.” He drew in a deep breath, and tried to relax his hands; they had curled into fists of their own volition.“No, you never have.” After a small eternity he managed to add, “Will you be all right?”It took Tarrant a minute to realize what he was asking.“You mean without the girl.”He nodded stiffly.“Ah.” A pause.“I had hoped she’d last longer—”“Just answer the question,” he snapped.“Will I live to see port? Yes.Will I be in prime condition to rejoin battle with the enemy when we get there? Not if I go hungry for a month, Reverend Vryce.” He paused.“But you knew that when you asked, didn’t you?”He shut his eyes and exhaled noisily.“Yeah.I knew.”“Shall I take that as an offer?”He remembered their voyage to the east, and the nightmares that Tarrant had placed in his mind so that he might harvest Damien’s fear for nourishment.It was not an experience the priest was anxious to repeat, but what was the alternative? Let Tarrant become so weakened by hunger that when they arrived in Faraday he was all but useless? Encourage him to feed on the rest of the crew?With a heavy sigh Damien nodded, wincing.“Yeah,” he muttered.“It’s an offer.Whatever you need—”“And no more than that,” the Neocount finished smoothly.“I understand.”God.Those dreams.A month of them and a man could go mad.Could the Hunter perhaps drink his blood instead? There was enough of the vampire still in the man that sometimes that was possible.Was temporary physical weakness preferable to mental torture?He looked up at the Hunter again and tried to gauge the hunger in those pale, cold eyes.It amazed him sometimes how human the man could appear, when the hunger inside him was anything but.“No dreams of the Patriarch,” he told him.“Nor of the Church.Not in any form or manner.Agreed?”A faint smile tightened the corners of Tarrant’s lips; the pale eyes sparkled.“No dreams of the Patriarch,” he agreed.“Not of my devising, anyway.”“Yeah.” He turned away, refusing to look at Tarrant.Or at the letter.“I can manage those nightmares on my own, can’t I?”Faraday: jewel of the east, heart of all commerce, haven par excellence for all the merchant ships that plied the eastern waters.Unlike the other great ports of Erna this city had not relied upon Nature for its security, but had crafted its own safety with walls and locks and measures and men, creating a complex alarm system which rendered the great harbor as safe as any coastal region could ever be.Faraday: devastated.They saw it from a distance at first, then assessed it in greater detail as they approached.The great sea wall which towered thirty feet above the water’s surface, protecting the harbor beyond, was now ragged along its top.There were broken spars that jutted out from its surface, wooden shards driven deep between the rocks as a memorial to whatever ship the sea had caught up and heaved against its unyielding surface.Mast-bits floated in a muddy sea, rail-bits, scraps of sail.Something that might have been a chunk of flesh was caught up in their wake, but the scavenger fish had so worried it that there was too little left to identify.At the top of the wall men scurried about, quickly making repairs.Damien saw them nervously looking east as they worked, as if they could somehow measure the sea’s temper.But smashers didn’t always give warning, and from the looks of the damage.Damien felt his stomach tighten as they came around the end of the wall, past the first smasher lock.He hated the sea.He hated its power, and its unpredictability.Most of all he hated the limits it had placed on man’s progress, by forcing him to focus on a land-based expansion.Rozca’s expression was dark as they came around the end of the wall, easing God’s Glory and her companion ship into the narrow harbor entrance.Damien followed his gaze out into the harbor itself, where broken piers and battered hulls littered the tide.“Shouldn’t have happened,” Rozca muttered.“Not here.”“You can’t stop a smasher.”The Captain snorted and jerked his head toward Faraday.“They could.Maybe not stop it outright, but keep it from killing.They’ve got alarms up on the cliff there—” he waved a hand toward the bluffs that towered over the harbor, “—that sense a quake far away as Novatlantis, and enough good men praying ‘em to work that they’re damn near perfect.With the watchers up there and sirens all along the coast.there’s never been a smasher yet that they didn’t know was coming.Get your ships out into deep water if you can, tie up the rest to a special mooring that lets ’em go with the waves, set the locks so the harbor can’t be drained, and then get the vulk out of the way.maybe they can’t stop ‘em, but they can damned well make ready for ’em.There hasn’t been a ship lost in Faraday since the last lock was built, nearly a hundred years ago.” He gazed out in the harbor, eyes narrowed against the sunset’s glare.Shadowed by his thick brows, his expression seemed doubly dark.“Not this time,” he muttered.“Vulkin’ Hell, look at the place!”They had come past the lock and around the sea wall, so that now their view of the harbor was unimpeded.Damien’s hand tightened about the rail as he gazed upon what was once the proudest port of the eastern coast, as he compared it to the harbor from which they had set sail nearly two years ago.Where dozens of sleek piers had jutted out from the shore there were now but a handful, and a good half of those were badly damaged.The shoreline boardwalk had lost whole sections, and with it all the buildings that stood upon it.And the sea—that was filled with debris, enough shards of mast and bits of sail that Damien knew more than one ship had foundered in the rising sea, along with all their passengers.Tsunami [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]