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Recap #173: The Last Vampire 7 | Thirst 3: The Eternal Dawn by Christopher Pike

The Eternal Dawn by Christopher Pike

The Eternal Dawn by Christopher Pike

Title: The Eternal Dawn by Christopher Pike

Summary: Alisa has spent the past five thousand years as a vampire, living alone and fighting for survival. In her loneliness, Alisa cannot resist bringing Teri—a descendant of her human family—into her life. But Alisa is surrounded by death and destruction, and just by knowing Alisa, Teri’s life is at risk.

Alisa’s guilt grows when she becomes involved in a dangerous conspiracy. A top-secret group knows Alisa’s secret and will stop at nothing to use her powers for their cause. As Alisa desperately tries to protect herself and Teri from the unknown enemy, she discovers a force more powerful and more lethal than anything she has ever seen. Alisa doesn’t know who to trust, who to challenge, or who she will become….

Tagline: Reckless Behavior. Endless Pursuit.

Initial Thoughts

Oh god, y’all, this book alone is at least the same length of any three previous books, if not longer. I have no idea how I’m going to break up these last books. There’s no way I can do a normal recap at that length, but if I do a set number of chapters each month, I’ll be recapping them all of next year, too, and I’m really looking forward to recapping Monster and Spellbound and Scavenger Hunt at the end of this year. So we’ll see what happens.

[Wing: Note from the future. I just dove in and recapped the entire thing, so … it’s long. I may split up the next one, or put it off until the new year, or something, I don’t even know. It’s so long, y’all. The book. This recap. Oh god.]

Recap

We open with Alisa loving dawn and the hour before sunrise being her favourite time of the day. No typical vampire mythos here, you see. She’s special. SUPER SPECIAL. So special, in fact, that last book, she went back in time so she never became a vampire in the first place and yet here we are with her a vampire again, getting ready to kill a rapist. She says he doesn’t fit the classic rape profile, because he’s rich, intelligent, from a good family, and an athlete at a good school about to be drafted to the NFL — so, basically exactly a classic rape profile.

Oh, god, this book takes place in Missouri, and Truman College and Truman Village sound like very poorly disguised stand-ins for Truman State University and Kirksville. (a) I wonder how they reacted to this. (b) Who pissed Pike off, people?

Alisa is there because 300 generations after her daughter, Lalita (her only human child), there is a grand-daughter (too many greats to count), Teri Raine, and she is a student at Truman College. She’s seen this guy favour Teri, and since this basically makes Teri her child in some sense (…I guess), she can’t wait any longer to kill him. She shows him an FBI bad and teases him a little, really playing things up, putting him in the position where he proves, without a doubt, that he’s willing to hurt women.

During this killing punishment, Alisa thinks about how she doesn’t have to drink human blood anymore after Yaksha and Kalika gave her their blood. So … have we just erased the last book? Did I recap it for no reason? Am I recapping this for no reason? What the fuck is going on? Not knowing is not interesting, it is annoying, and if I weren’t recapping this book, I’d probably stop reading here.

Alisa returns to watch Teri’s track practice; Teri is the fastest woman on the team and Alisa feels a tonne of pride for her. It’s kind of sweet, really. Especially when Alisa approaches Teri to offer her a job and we learn that Teri’s kicking ass at life. She’s only 19, but already a junior, and she’ll probably be in medical school by the time she’s 21, which is really damn early. Alisa claims she’s a writer and that she’s working on a major medical thriller, so she needs someone to do her medical research.

Whole bunch of quick details about Alisa’s private home, someone or something has knocked over a plant pot but she can’t tell who or what it was, and Lisa and Jeff come visit. Jeff is a cop, and Lisa is a mathematician. Lisa’s old boyfriend, Randy, hacked into an “investment” company, IIC, looking for dirt, and he disappeared shortly after. The information he found included Alisa’s name, even though she’s not going by Alisa for the most part right now. IIC described her as a “person of interest” in their files, and Jeff and Lisa claim IIC had her address in Missouri, even though Alisa bought it under a different alias and has only lived there two months.

One of the other things Randy found was that IIC was also connected to six other investment firms, including the one where he works, UII, and they are all fronts for a single gigantic investment firm which has no name and isn’t supposed to exist. They make their money using something called the Array, which allows them to invest with remarkable accuracy. It might be an advanced software program, but they don’t know.

Alisa has two FBI agents who really work for her, and she puts them to work looking into IIC and Randy Clifford; she does the same for two private detectives.

She spends some time wishing she had someone she could trust with all this and everything else, a companion. She’s only known a handful of people in 5000 years that she trusted, and in this age, the only person she knows she could trust, Seymour, doesn’t believe she exists. He thinks of her as a fictional character he wrote because she had a deep telepathic contact with him.

Now she writes her own story, but she let Seymour do it at first. And they have never met in the real world. So … all of the last books were the story she had Seymour write? And Seymour = Christopher Pike? Oh god, everything is terrible. I hate stories where the author inserts themself like that. I hate entire books being erased, plots written off as just fiction or just a dream. Damn it, Pike. Damn. It.

That night, Alisa meets Matt, Teri’s boyfriend, and he looks familiar to her, though she doesn’t know why. He’s a musician, and he’s charismatic and handsome and extremely talented. There’s — there’s actual song lyrics in this book. Oh god.

(We hear about some of Alisa’s short stories. She sold one to Playboy, a horror story about a man marooned on an island with a werewolf and a vampire, who has to chose which monster he’ll become. The vampire would let him stay human. The werewolf wouldn’t. The monsters are lonely and searching for more of their kind. There’s talk of masters and choices and it sounds pretentious as hell. But, you know, werewolf, so I’m also intrigued. I love stories where characters have to figure out what makes a monster, etc., and yet this still sounds ridiculous.)

Alisa spends the evening with Matt and Teri at one of the bars where Matt performs, and when they part ways, she feels like she’s spent time with family. This is sweet and wonderful, and therefore makes me worry, because Alilsa tends to get the people around her into trouble.

Alisa is nearly killed when she gets home, when a sniper nearly puts a bullet into her head even through the car. Alisa darts for the house, but even as fast as she moves, the sniper manages to put a bullet into her right thigh. He manages to destroy her sciatic nerve, and that will take her time to heal. She goes for her weapons upstairs, but her vault’s been raided. (She assumes he did it.) Again, he nearly kills her, using a Gatling gun to fire special bullets through her bedroom wall. She has a second, secret vault downstairs, and luckily, he did not find that one.

She decides that odds are good that he’s a vampire, because no human would have been able to hit her when she raced from the car to the house or to drag a Gatling gun into the woods. She has no idea who made him, though. Yaksha never would have, and Alisa destroyed Eddie, who had Yaksha’s blood for awhile, years ago. Joel, that FBI agent she turned, lost some blood at a government facility outside Vegas, and though she destroyed it with a bomb, it’s possible vials of his blood had been shipped off beforehand. So … the high level points of the previous books still stand? Give me some goddamn answers, Pike.

Alisa comes up with a plan: (1) turn her house into a firecracker with natural gas, propane, auto gasoline, and the nitroglycerin from some of her sniper bullets. (She siphons gasoline from her cars into big water bottles, which reminds me so much of a scene in Monster that I want to dump this book and immediately start reading that book instead.) (2) Launch the cars away from the house at different speeds and directions. (3) Distraction + distraction = time to run for the woods. She almost makes it, but at the last second, he gets a bullet into her right side, through her liver, which means she’s losing a ton of blood and she’s really damaged. She’s not sure she can heal all of this. It’s really hard to believe this considering we spent six books before this watching Alisa heal everything, and if that has now partially been retconned, it isn’t working with the information available at this point, 15% of the way into the book.

Alisa then does some surgery on herself with her fingernails, trying to seal the artery long enough for her body to heal. The attacker can’t use the Gatling through the trees, so he comes for her, but slowly, cautiously. Alisa finally gets the artery healed back together and climbs 200 hundred feet up a tree.

(Pike is using a lot more exclamation marks for Alisa’s internal thoughts, which is making everything feel ridiculous and overdone.)

She decides not to just kill him but to disarm him so she can question him, and manages to throw knives so that they cut off some of the nerves in his shoulders, and then shoots out one of his knees. As she approaches with care, she feels a wave of sympathy and respect for him, because he’s the finest adversary she’s ever come up against. He’s wearing an odd watch that she thinks might be a weapon, too, and so she makes him point it away from her. He’s not a vampire, actually; he doesn’t smell like one, and all vampires have the faint scent of Yaksha. She asks him questions, he tells her to kill him, she tries to get him to answer, blah blah blah. He talks to his watch in an ancient language she only recognises from her time in ancient Egypt with Suzama, someone talking through the watch tells him yes, he’s done well, and he can return to the Eternal Goddess, and then he bites into a kill pill in his teeth which releases corrosive red gas that burns his body faster than Alisa can believe. The technology is more advanced than anything she’s ever encountered, and not even knowing that he’s connected to ancient Egypt, her first clue, gives her no comfort, because she doesn’t know what they are or why they want her dead.

Alisa relocates to a new house (this one a rental), and sets her FBI agents and PIs looking into the rental van she found associated with the dead guy, because she thinks the two mysteries are related. Already she’s learned that the missing ex-boyfriend, Randy, was visited by “Marko,” a hitman who chargers a million even for his hits.

Teri and Matt come to talk about Teri’s job offer. More song lyrics, Alisa thinks they’re about her, and I’m pretty sure these will become important but I can’t bring myself to type them up. This one is all about a mystery woman and ancient secrets and the gods confiding in someone. Teri and Alisa talk about running and how Teri feels the most herself on long runs late at night or early in the morning, and running comes so naturally for her that she wonders if she could run in the Olympics. Aww, they’re bonding over her being some sort of vague copy of Alisa.

Another summary of an Alisa short story: K-8-P (Kap on earth) and his partner are low level grunts who have been assigned the job of destroying earth because an advanced galactic civilisation monitoring tv and radio here decided humans were too hostile to be allowed to expand into the galaxy, which is truth.  Kap and partner do this by painting an asteroid so that it doesn’t reflect light and altering its path so that it will hit earth in three years; astronomers won’t be able to see it until it is mere days away. So … Armageddon. Can’t wait to see oil drillers go to space. Kap tricks things so he can meet humanity; earth will be the tenth planet he’s destroyed and he’s curious to figure out why the leaders choose certain planets. Kap crash lands, his shuttle has a device that gives him amnesia, he observes human life through unbiased, naive eyes. “Eyes of the Stars” won both a Nebula and a Hugo, which are real awards. I’m starting to think that writers should never write about characters who are writers, because nothing Alisa has ever said or written makes me think she’d be an award-winning author and this mostly comes across as wish fulfillment from Pike.

Matt annoys the hell out of me when he argues that Alisa’s statement that drastically unequal distribution of wealth leads to failing empires is false because the USA has that and only keeps getting stronger. This was published in 2010, which was right after a huge economic crash in the USA and the country has been showing cracks for a long, long, long time. (I’m ready for the fall of the country. #teamextinctionlevelcomet) Matt flat out says he’s a Republican, Teri says she despises Republicans, and Teri, here’s the thing: if he’s going to be like that, stop fucking him OH MY GOD WOMAN. Get it together.

And then Alisa annoys me because she, at least in some ways, idolises the USA founding fathers, which feels unrealistic for her and more like an intrusion of Pike’s feelings. (I don’t know his political feelings. That is just how it seems.)

Alisa’s thriller that she’s hiring Teri to help research will be about genetic code and how genes are the keys to human (and vampire) existence. And Alisa plans to actually write it to try to warn humanity about what’s coming next.

When Matt hugs her good-bye, he whispers that there’s something about him, and Alisa realises that Matt has done all the probing that afternoon (dirty) even though she planned the meal to get to know them better, and she thinks that all his teasing was just a charade to learn more about her and he really has no political views at all, just like her. Which, that’s bullshit, you clearly have political views, Alisa, and also, playing devil’s advocate just makes him even more annoying.

Teri and Matt spend the night at Alisa’s house twice; the first time they come together and the second time they come separately. Alisa thinks they’re trying to feel her out, and I am hoping for a threesome. (Surely 300 generations later no longer qualifies as incest even if Alisa knows about that distant, distant, distant connection.)

Pike. PIKE. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING.

When thinking about Matt, Alisa says: If I didn’t love Teri so much, I’d have already jumped him. Even if he put up a fight, I wouldn’t have cared.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, PIKE? YOU LITERALLY OPENED THIS BOOK WITH HER KILLING A RAPIST AND NOW LESS THAN 100 PAGES LATER YOU ARE WRITING HER AS A RAPIST HELD AT BAY ONLY BECAUSE SHE CARES ABOUT A THIRD PERSON. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? WHAT THE EVER LOVING FUCK.

Update from Claire, one of the FBI agents: Claudious Ember rented that van in Manhattan (I assume New York and not Kansas, even though that’s closer to Missouri); before that, he flew into Los Angeles before flying into New York (see?); he started in Zurich Switzerland. At one point, Alisa was told that Yaksha worked out of Switzerland. Alisa sends Claire to do more research in Zurich.

Alisa doesn’t understand why Claudious’s organisation only sent one assassin after her and there’s been no follow-up. It might be a test. It might not. A test for him. A test for her. A demonstration of their power. Anything could be true.

She worries about Marko the hitman being out in the world with Lisa still working at IIC; it’s only a matter of time before Marko visits Lisa and Jeff. Alisa doesn’t know why she’s worried about the humans. Of course she should be curious about and wary of IIC who has so much information on her, but she’s not sure why she likes Lisa and Jeff.

So she goes to visit Marko sooner than later. He lives on a thousand acres of land in Iowa. He has a wife, two young children, goes to church every Sunday, and sits on the city council. It’s a great cover, but it complicates things a little when Alisa finds the wife and kids at the farm with him. Alisa is intrigued by Marko, and describes him as “a robot with two sets of hard drives that he uses for memory. Two storage units that seldom connect.”

Alisa draws him outside and leads him into the cornfield. She shoots him once in the leg when he keeps lying to her and finally he gives her the name of his broker, Rita from New Jersey who is an old woman. He’s done regular work for IIC over the last five years, including on a woman in the San Francisco area, Michelle, who worked for them. Rita doesn’t know anything about them, but Michelle told him that IIC was working for the anticrhist and were preparing the way by making truckloads of money and spreading all over the world, and also mentioned the Array, and that IIC paid the kids $100 a month, and all the kids were from the third world. She talked about them once in public and that’s why IIC hired Marko to kill her. He has another contract that is also IIC-related, and gives her the combination to his safe. She tells him that if he leaves town in the next 30 years, she’ll kill him and everyone in his family, so he’s now retired. She also offers him a large payment if he hears about a contact on Lisa or Jeff.

The contract is for a girl, Shanti, who was born in Madras, India, but now lives in San Antonio, Texas; she was the victim of a sulfuric acid attack from a man who was arranged to be her husband. The file says both that Shanti is helpless and has no security of any kind and that she must be killed as soon as possible.

Alisa immediately heads to Texas. Shanti’s sole guardian is her uncle, Shivam, and Alisa decides to approach using a blunt introduction using an alias as Special Agent Jessica Reese of the FBI. When Alisa meets Shanti, she’s taken with her and immediately decides to get her the finest plastic surgeons in the world to help repair her face and the nerve damage in her mouth.

I’m betting no one reading is surprised to learn that Shanti works for IIC, and they send her $100 a month. Shanti was in a ton of pain after the acid attack, and she continued to pray to Krishna as she had done for hours at a time even before it. She had a miracle after; the vision in her left eye returned and she could move around without help and the pain went away.

While she was healing, the IIC man came to tell her that she could earn $100 for doing next to nothing. All she does is close her eyes and answer questions. Someone will call her and she pushes 1 for yes and 2 for no, never speaking. She doesn’t know what they’re asking, she just answers based on what comes to her at the moment. Alisa wonders if the groups of letters could be stock symbols, and Shanti thought of that. She’s never heard about the Array. Alisa doubts that Shanti has anything to do with the Array or IIC’s success in the market, and I zero percent believe that Alisa, who is supposed to be so smart and experienced wouldn’t take one look at this and wonder if the phone calls aren’t exactly what makes up a part of the Array. Come the fuck on, Pike. Stop undermining your main character.

Alisa decides to go to Malibu, California, to meet the principals at IIC face to face. She knows her impatience is a weakness, but she can’t help it. Alisa feels the need to protect Shanti, even though, again, she’s not sure why. Shanti sends her on her way with Krishna’s love, and says she believes Krishna brought Alisa (well, Jessica) into her life. Since he spared Sita’s life 5000 years ago, Alisa thinks that’s true.

Alisa has befriended Lisa, talking to her for hours because she finds Lisa fascinating and probably a genius. When Alisa arrives in California, she calls Lisa to check in, but there’s no time for interesting conversation because Lisa’s worried about Jeff, who hasn’t been around that morning. Alisa warns her away from Jeff’s place and IIC and then heads to IIC herself. Alisa thinks the building breaks every rule in the book but still remains standing; it includes support beams that make up rectangles, squares, pyramids, and even spheres.

Alisa’s name gets her into a meeting with Cynthia Brutran. Alisa has to wait for awhile, though, and gets impatience until a woman shows up with a young child named Athena. They talk awhile, Alisa has a little snark about the mother “struggling” with post-pregnancy fat, because that’s just terrible, how dare anyone ever be fat. The woman leaves Athena with Alisa while she runs to the restroom, which is an odd request, and reckless, and Alisa notes all of this.

Athena talks about her dad being gone and then breaks a vase and cuts her fingers. Of course, the mother shows up while Alisa is trying to get shards of glass out of her skin and freaks out. Don’t leave your damn kid alone with strangers. Athena’s mother blows up at both Alisa and the receptionist (Alisa calls her a secretary, which is super outdated, PIKE. And Alisa otherwise seems to stay on top of changing trends so she can blend in.)

Alisa’s managed to cut herself while trying to help and though the receptionist tries hard to get her to use bandages, Alisa goes to clean up in the restroom, trying to protect her blood, which is a long habit (understandably). Back out in the waiting room, the receptionist tells Alisa that the child’s eyes blazed right before she broke the vase, like something had set her off.

Finally, Alisa meets with Cynthia. Based on how Cynthia reacts, Alisa decides that she doesn’t know exactly what Alisa is, but she knows something; she’s guarded, but not afraid. Alisa brushes past small talk and dives straight into the point; Cynthia claims she doesn’t know how Alisa was marked a person of interest in their database. As they talk, Alisa keeps trying to read Cynthia’s thoughts, but can’t. Something is blocking her. Alisa does know that she can’t simply snap her neck, because somehow, Cynthia will stop her.

When Cynthia tries to read Alisa’s mind, things get even more interesting, and even more so when Cynthia tries to plant a suggestion inside Alisa’s thoughts; Alisa is able to block it because she knows that trick, but she struggles to figure out the hidden message, and in the end fails at everything she came to do.

Alisa collects Lisa and they go check on Jeff. The second they arrive at his house, Alisa smells his blood. She quickly figures out that he was surprised in his bedroom and taken into the bathroom, where they butchered him alive with a sharp knife and washed most of it down the drain. They’ve cleaned up everything, but of course Alisa can still smell it.

And all three of his computers are missing.

Alisa rushes to keep Lisa safe, packing her things, destroying her phone, teaching her how to live as if she’s being hunted, giving her cash and a new identity. As they go, Alisa pushes to find out more information about why people want to kill Shanti, and finally Lisa talks about some numbers she’s been working with in an attempt to figure out why the money IIC has been making has dropped over the last couple of years. One of the numbers she was given — she thinks identification numbers for people — has been giving answers that helped that person’s numbers but hurt others. Lisa pushes, hard, to help Alisa because IIC has killed the two men she loved most in the world, and Alisa agrees to come get her from Barstow in a couple of days when things have died down.

Alisa returns to watch IIC until Cynthia leaves, but Cynthia doesn’t leave. The more she watches the building, the more confused she gets; for one thing, they’ve managed to create a vacuum between the plates of glass which deadens all noises so that Alisa can’t hear anything even though normally she should be able to.

Of course, they didn’t know she was coming, so it seems like they’ve armed themselves against someone else.

Cynthia doesn’t leave the building all night. Alisa is tired of waiting, but trying to hold her patience. While she waits, she flashes back to conversations with Teri and Matt who have each been visiting her on their own. I still ship it. I’m not super fond of the flashback to fill boring waiting space, though.

We do learn that Teri’s first goal is to compete in the Olympics because she wants a gold medal. She’s training more than she does anything else, and though Matt’s supportive, she thinks he resents how little time she spends with him. Alisa’s actually pondering giving Teri a pint of her blood to make it happen, which hello, cheating, and I think Teri would resent that if she knew she didn’t make it on her own.

Matt and Alisa’s conversation is more about how he thinks of her as a mystery woman and he has trouble relaxing when Teri’s around. Matt, you are gross, go the fuck away. Alisa thinks his flirting and his attraction to her are genuine, but really he’s using them to protect Teri. Still gross.

Cynthia finally leaves her office the next night shortly after sunset. Alisa follows her to a mansion that is empty of people, including security guards, and this puts Alisa even more on edge because she knows there’s something she’s missing. There’s no electronic security, even. Alisa’s impatience gets to her and she breaks into the house, because Alisa continues to be an impulsive idiot.

She runs into a little girl who is carrying around a beat-up clown doll with a sad smile and so is clearly evil. Mr Topper is having nightmares, the kid says, and Alisa sends her back to bed. She’s not super worried about the fact she never heard the kid coming or even existing inside the house, which is bullshit.

Cynthia is eating a fruit salad and watching the news; she invites Alisa to join her. They talk about how IIC owns CNN, though no one at CNN knows it or would believe it. Cynthia’s brought her there to teach her more about IIC because Cynthia wants them to work together.

In order for Alisa to earn her trust and learn the information she actually wants, Cynthia tells her to kill Shanti and Lisa. Lisa because she knows too much and is a loose cannon, and Shanti because under the surface “she’s the center of an infection that makes the AIDS virus look benign.” Pike, this sounds like you’re writing it back in the 1980s, not after all sorts of advances in treatment of HIV/AIDS.

There’s some talk about which countries in the Middle East actually have bombs though the USA doesn’t know about it; Cynthia knows because she can write checks for $100 billion. Some of the countries bought from Russia, some from North Korea, some directly from the USA. Cynthia then tells her that one of the things that gives away Alisa’s age is the fact that she never lets her old identities die. If she did, they would look more realistic. Considering she’s already reusing identities she pretty much blew back in the original books, Cynthia makes a goddamn good point.

Cynthia claims IIC’s higher purpose is to save mankind. Now, I’m not denying that mankind is doing fuck all to save itself, but I also don’t trust any giant corporation, much less a secret one, to be doing the saving.

They threaten back and forth, back and forth, and finally Alisa aims her gun at Cynthia. Cynthia then uses at least some part of the array to take control of Alisa’s central nervous system; the pressure causes a huge amount of pain and her vertebrae feel like they’re about to erupt. Cynthia tells her to shoot herself; as Alisa tries to focus on anything else, she sees on the television close-ups of children shooting themselves in the head just as Cynthia wants her to do. She can smell the blood, even. Then Shanti comes on the screen, looking like she did before the acid attack. She begs Alisa to shoot herself so she can live.

Alisa watches Shanti shoot herself, but she doesn’t die, she keeps telling Alisa to shoot herself in the mouth. Alisa puts the gun into her mouth and knows that she’s about to die. Shanti goes on to tell her that a secret lesson the Array never had a chance to initiate her into is that there is no God, only power over life and death.

This, of course, makes her think of Krishna; Alisa has never known whether he was truly God, but as Yaksha said, it didn’t matter. God was a word. Krishna was too powerful to be disobeyed, and now she sees him in a slightly different light. It doesn’t matter what they call him, because he loved so much, she has to love him in return.

Alisa knows that if she can say his name, she will go to him after her final breath, but she can’t speak with the gun in her mouth. She holds Krishna in her mind, and one of his mantras, and dies, but not really. Instead, she has shot out the tv, somehow. Cynthia is terrified now, and Alisa can read her mind.

Alisa knows it won’t last and that Krishna helps those who help themselves, so she has to get out of the house before the Array returns. Cynthia is shocked that Alisa lives and that there might be a god, and then Alisa leaves after telling her to stay away from Alisa’s friends and with one final threat that she’ll probably kill Cynthia later and Cynthia won’t be able to stop her.

They’re both completely shaken by this whole night.

Alisa is most impressed that Cynthia was honest with her so often (she also calls Cynthia a manipulative bitch, because women hating women is super fucking cool, Pike, and also, Alisa, pot, kettle). Even with honesty, though, Alisa still doesn’t know what all Cynthia meant.

Alisa is afraid of the Array now. She didn’t damage it. She survived its first attack only by Krishna’s grace. Shit just got real.

In her fear, she brings Shanti and Lisa to Missouri and move them into a nearby condo, because the best idea ever is to move the people she cares about into close proximity to make it easier for assassins to get to them all. COOL.

She also gets Shanti facial reconstruction surgery and helps her heal faster by rubbing diluted blood on her face in the middle of the night; it’s enough to fix her blind eye, even.

Oh, and Cynthia kills that assassin who failed her, the one Alisa left alive before.

Alisa is enjoying having a family around her, but knows that things are dangerous. She’s still debating giving Teri her blood. There’s a lot of filler in this book, a lot of Alisa sitting around and telling us things that have happened but we neither get to see nor need to know about in this kind of detail. No wonder the book is longer than ever.

Alisa does end up giving Teri some of her blood even though Teri flat out tells her that she doesn’t want any sort of secret performance enhancer. Fucking hell, Alisa. The whole family goes off to watch the Olympic trials; there’s no word on more information about IIC, but Alisa claims she’s not letting herself be lulled into a false sense of security.

Matt acts weird around Teri’s performances in the first two races, and Alisa is tempted to read his mind, but sticks to her promise not to read the minds of people she cares about. Oh god, a story about how Alisa cursed Portland’s Steve Prefontaine by running with him as he prepped for the Olympics and pushing him too hard accidentally, breaking his confidence because he was “beaten by a girl.” If you’re going to let that put you off something you’ve probably worked your whole life to do, fuck out of here. Also: PIKE. What the fuck.

The blood Alisa gave Teri has created some sort of psychic bond between them, Teri nearly runs herself to destruction in the final race but Alisa manages to slow her down just in time, and Teri is now the favourite to win the gold medal at the Olympics. Because she’s cheating and doesn’t know it. What the hell, Alisa.

Teri has two months of Olympic prep. Alisa works on her book, which is now about a futuristic civilisation where two types of human beings exist, one that uses nanotechnology, one that does not. (She calls the first the Nanots, which is terrible.)

Alisa has strange feelings over going to the Olympics in London; she worries that if she leaves America, she won’t return. So she goes to see Seymour. Their psychic connection is inexplicable even to her; all she has to do is close her eyes and she can see what he sees.

Oh, here we go, a bit about the treatment for HIV/AIDS that allows him to be relatively healthy. He uses a half dozen pen names: teen thrillers, Carol Kline; adult horror, Mike Fresher; mystery, Harold Boxter; romance, Debra Singer; Hollywood scripts, James Hart. So are you talking about yourself there, Christopher Pen Name Pike? Also: he has different agents who don’t know he writes under so many names. I have my doubts about this. Pike claims he’s the most diverse writer on the planet. I have my doubts about that, too, because I know authors who write all of those genres and more.

… Seymour really is Pike’s stand-in, isn’t he?

So, Seymour wrote the Last Vampire book (all of those in one, I guess), printed one copy, and erased the file. He’s never printed it.  Alisa flat out says: You wanted to put yourself in the story. A lot of writers do that.

I SEE YOU, PIKE.

Oh god, we then have a recap of the books that came before this one.

The story breaks off when Alisa defeated Landulf. She really came back to the present and went on with her life; she thinks that Seymour wrote a different ending because he was dying at the time, he wasn’t sure whether he was writing about himself or the character Alisa, and he thought it fitting they die together. And yet neither of them have died at all.

He agrees to give her a chance to prove herself and then makes a deal that if he helps her (she wants his advice), he has to come with her and she can never leave him again, not until he says so. And she agrees to this.

Because, again, bringing all the people you love to the same location when you’re afraid of an all-powerful thing that very well could kill you much less them is the best strategy ever. I buy it. Totally.

London, Olympics, Teri is struggling with her interval training because the blood has worn off, Alisa admits to Seymour what she’s done. Seymour tries to talk her out of giving Teri more, of course it doesn’t work, and Alisa sneaks into the Olympic Village to do it. Alisa almost leaves her alone, but then Teri starts to dream and cries out Yaksha’s name. This is going real well, Alisa.

(Lisa is not with them because she couldn’t get away from her teaching job, and Teri’s parents didn’t come because they feared it would put more pressure on her. BULLSHIT.)

Alisa actually psychically joins with Teri during the last lap because Teri is struggling with confidence and is trapped in the crowd. Teri runs, Alisa gives her guidance on how to fight back, Teri wins. It means very little because of all the fucking cheating, Alisa.

Teri and Matt are invited to visit the president at an Olympic party, briefly leaving the others to continue their celebratory party without them. Alisa and Seymour end up hanging out alone for awhile.

And then, of course, things go to hell. Alisa hears four people coming for them, four people who sound like that assassin Claudious Ember. Seymour comes up with a plan for them to get inside the president’s hotel because there will be a ton of heavily armed, best-trained guards in the world who will cut the potential assassins to pieces. I have my doubts about that considering how much Alisa had to do to kill the last one, but Alisa goes along with this plan.

Alisa listens to two of the assassins come; they are women and they both use telepathic abilities to get inside just like Alisa did. Alisa thinks they look like they were taken from an ancient Egyptian pyramid wall with their dark skin and hair. Then two men come, and Alisa hears them trying to get inside too. She sets some of the agents on the women, even though she doesn’t normally send humans to deal with monsters.

The men start to come before her, and Alisa goes to a couple of male agents and sends them after the guys. Alisa goes with them this time. The two men are tall, blond, and blue-eyed, nothing like the women, and they are wearing that same strange watch that the last assassin did.

There’s some fighting, one of the men is killed (not entirely clear who does it), Alisa kills the second one by kicking him in the head after a short fight, and then she goes for the women. (She keeps calling them witches, but not the men.)

The other women shoot at her, one of them gets a shot into her arm but Alisa manages to direct it down with her elbow so it doesn’t go through and hit her head, then kills that woman. The last woman is wounded but still dangerous; she’s running instead of coming for Alisa. Alisa talks the secret service agents into letting her go after the last assassin and she arms herself with weapons from the fallen ones.

How the hell did she take out three of them so quickly? It took her forever to deal with that solo one before. Even if there are people around, they clearly don’t care about shooting into crowds. After that was set up before, there’s no way she should have been able to do this.

Alisa steals a car (a Porsche Carrera, one of her favourite cars, because of course) and also somehow the streets in London during the Olympics are empty enough for her to have this car chase and drive more than 100 miles per hour.

They go to the south of England where the assassin is trying to escape. Maybe via a boat into France. Sure enough, the assassin gets on a ferry across the channel. Alisa is five minutes behind; she thinks she can beat the ferry if she drives under the channel, but doesn’t want to lose the ability to hear the assassin. Alisa dives into the water and swims to the boat. The assassin knows she’s coming, so Alisa hyperoxeginates and dives under the boat for awhile. Some dolphins show up and since she has a nice connection with them because of her mental thoughts, they offer to tow her to the ship. Because sure, psychic dolphin connections and saviours, that’s just what this series needed. Even for a vampire story, this is starting to stretch the bounds of disbelief.

Alisa climbs onto the boat, breathing gently and changing her heartbeat so she sounds more human. The assassin is still at the rear of the ship waiting for Alisa to try to access it that way.

Alisa wants to leave this one alive so she can interrogate her. Alisa doesn’t want to draw attention by shooting her, so she uses paper towels as a silencer and then leaps into the air. The boat keeps moving beneath her, but she’s timed the jump so she lands right on the bench next to the assassin. The paper towels work to silence the gun. Since it’s some sort of fancy tech gun, I’m not even going to question the veracity of all of this or of it working after it’s been in the water. She shoots and shatters the assassin’s kneecap then her right leg and hand.

When she lands, the bench shatters beneath her, throwing her off balance. Even with three bullets in her (well, I thought four because of that one earlier), the assassin fights back and they fight for awhile. Finally, Alisa shoots her enough to get her down and handcuff her writs and ankles.

Alisa steals a van off the ferry as soon as it docks, an electrician’s van, and immediately drives back to England under the channel. Alisa helps her a little, digging out the bullets and her suicide tooth (…if she has one, why didn’t she use it?), but she’s still bleeding pretty badly and in a ton of pain.

Once they’re in a motel, the assassin says she knows that Alisa is only after blood and that she knows her real name is Bloody Sita, which is quite a nickname. Alisa offers to do more to help her, get bandages and pain medicine, if she just tells Alisa her name, which is Numbria. Alisa knows that is the name of the younger sister of the Goddess Isis and the mantra “Om Numbria” used to be considered one of the most powerful chants on earth.

Alisa gets meds from a nearby clinic with any trouble, but as she’s getting ready to leave, a disturbing feeling hits her, like she’s being watched by a multitude of people. She uses a stolen phone to check in with Seymour; Teri and Matt didn’t see her the night before, but they saw blood on the floor and heard about a “superchick with blond hair who killed a dozen people.” Matt wants to know where Alisa is, which is creepy.

She and Seymour talk a lot about whether Alisa has drawn too much attention and how the vampire he wrote about wanted to stay in the shadows and how she should turn him so he can help and on and on.

Alisa works on Numbria some more and then, when she’s on narcotics, also gives her sodium pentothal which she’s using as a truth serum. Alisa questions her and gets some information:

  • She’s Bloody Sita because she is an evil vampire.
  • The Source told Numbria that Alisa is evil. The Source is a group and has a leader; it is like a secret council with a president, and it goes back to the beginning of history.
  • Numbria’s group calls themselves the Telar, and she does not know anything about IIC or the Array or Cynthia.
  • The Telar can roughly be translated into English as The Immortals, and Numbria thinks the oldest Telar is maybe 12 thousand years old. That makes Alisa sit down in shock. She’s used to being the oldest. (Despite how many thousands of years Yaksha was floating around out there, too, though I suppose she was born before him when she was born as a human.)
  • Numbria estimates there are maybe 5 thousand Telar and not many of them are over 10 thousand years old. Numbria is 800 and was born in Italy in the Dark Ages. Many Telar died of the plague when it spread across Europe; the Source saw it coming and hid away so they all survived.
  • Numbria was told to hide, too, but Azol, her brother, was sick, and he died from the plague.
  • The original Telar formed a civilisation, the Egyptians, and modern archaeologists know nothing. Alisa doesn’t argue with this because she fled to Egypt about 5 thousand years ago and it was already a thriving civilisation.
  • The Telar know about the Setians and consider them demons; they think Suzama a divine oracle, but she was mortal and not Telar. Numbria doesn’t know of any record about Alisa in ancient Egypt despite her time with Suzama.
  • Yaksha is the vampire who made the Telar aware there were vampires when he married a Telar. This makes Alisa swoon because she feels very betrayed that he knew about the Telar but didn’t tell her. The Telar do not speak of the wife because she betrayed them by being with a vampire. She was killed by the high priest, the boss, of the Source. He failed to kill Yaksha because he was clever, powerful, and impossible to kill. The Telar also don’t talk about how angry Yaksha was when his wife was murdered, but he did not wipe out the Source because it is eternal and cannot be destroyed.
  • The Telar want to survive and to control. They are in politics and business, but not science because they don’t want to share their scientific knowledge with the rest of the world. They view humans as a plague poisoning the planet who must be stopped. I … find myself surprisingly sympathetic to the Telars at this moment. They will keep some humans alive to study them. When Alisa asks what they could learn from humans, Numbria starts thrashing so much that Alisa has to sedate her to stop it, which knocks her out.

Alisa wonders why Yaksha didn’t tell her about the Telar. I mean, in all those long chats you had before that time he turned up thousands of years later to kill you? Right. She’s not sure if he was afraid of what she would do to them or if he was trying to protect her.

She’s also a little shaken because in her arrogance, she thought she was the only one Yaksha ever loved. It hurts her. It breaks her heart. Alisa is exhausted and sad and worried, so she does a little half sleep there in the room with Numbria, her gun in her lap.

She dreams, but it doesn’t feel like she’s dreaming. She’s in a place that feels too real, even though she doesn’t believe in hell or the devil. She’s in a place of fire and brimstone, red smoke and flames. There are demons and lava and torture of souls. She begs not to be put in there, that she doesn’t belong. The demons’ master is almost as old as God, he’s the alpha and the omega, the one and the many, etc. As she thinks his names, Lucifer, “Light Bearer,” haunts her the most. There’s a bunch of biblical stuff about the arrogance and fall of Lucifer. He was only defeated because he had to call more light of the Holy Spirit for strength as he fought and he realised that the light originated in God and so therefore as he tried to destroy God, he was only fighting against himself. He did not share that truth with his demons, though, and instead descended into endless agony because he could not admit to it.

Lucifer tells her that she, Sita, has fallen, even when she sees that his light is no different than the light of her precious Lord.

She wakes on the floor of the motel to Numbria screaming in pain and begging for more narcotics. Alisa smells the blood and is hungry, as if she’s become a yakshini again, a reptile consumed with hunger. Numbria begs for Alisa to help her because there’s something in her mind, something inside her, killing her. Hello, Array.

Alisa tells her that the pain sweetens the blood and Numbria tells her it isn’t Alisa talking, there’s something in her head, twisting her. Alisa isn’t a monster, which is a lot different than what you were saying before both of you had a little nap, but fair enough.

Numbria begs not to die, and Alisa tells her she should never have been born and drinks her down.

An explosion at the motel door interrupts her. It’s Seymour, and she plans to feed on him, too. He tells her no, and she’s furious because no one is ever supposed to say no to her, and he is just a pathetic mortal, just bloody meat. He doesn’t struggle, but remains calm and tells her to think of Krishna.

Shanti is with him and she does not run. She lets Alisa get close, and calls her Sita, and Alisa feels like she’s draining her power, making her feel dizzy and weak. When Shanti gently touches Alisa’s cheek, her touch stings, just like it did when Seymour said the word Krishna. Shanti promises her it is just an evil spirit and it’s leaving. Shanti talks her down and makes her talk about Krishna until she comes back to them.

Numbria, though, is destroyed, a mass of torn flesh that leaks onto the floor. Seymour assures her that it wasn’t her, it was the Array, it was Cynthia waiting until now to attack, even though they don’t know how. He has an idea to why, the IIC is trying to set them against the Telar; Cynthia was offering her protection from the Telar, and when she turned them down, Cynthia was angry enough to force this on her, to make her kill a Telar. To make her look like the monster they think she is.

Teri and Matt show up, because of course they do. Shanti and Seymour back up Alisa’s story that she didn’t do this, which is both true and not, and Alisa begs Matt to take Teri out of the terrible room but to let her explain later. Matt tells her it already makes sense, there’s no need to explain, and he stays calm in the face of that horror. He also tells her to stay far away.

Alisa’s heart breaks, but she knows she can’t call on Krishna to fix it. Lucifer was right. She deserves the pain because she has sinned.

Seymour and Alisa go to Santorini to meet up with Paula Ramirez and baby John. Who is probably not a baby anymore, I suppose. Alisa still won’t flat out say the kid is divine, but she does know he is special.

Oh, shit, he’s sixteen, so not a baby at all. Oh my god.

(Difference between Seymour’s “version” and the “truth,” Kalika impaled Alisa with a sharp stick, not Seymour, and Alisa brought herself back by injecting John’s blood straight into her chest.)

(Also, Alisa spent more time with Krishna than in Seymour’s stories.)

Seymour and Alisa talk about avatars, “those who descend,” and how Krishna was one. He said there were 50 levels between earth and his realm, and that there are older races in the galaxy that evolved even farther than the 50 years. He told Alisa that she would have the chance to move to the higher worlds, but she’d have to pay the price for her long life on earth first.

Paula moved to Santorini without giving Alisa her address because she, too, thinks Alisa is dangerous; Alisa had to use her CIA and Interpol contacts to find her. Alisa is disappointed, but sort of understands. After all, Suzama’s prophecy says that John will save the world.

Alisa’s been thinking about how Cynthia was able to use the Array on her without it touching Numbria; Alisa thinks that day she went to Cynthia’s office was a trap. Sure enough, she thinks that child was a trap and when Alisa was picking glass from her hand, she cut her own fingers and left some of the blood on the girl and on the floor and in the pipes in the restroom. She thinks this allows them to focus the Array on her.

Paula greats them, but she’s not super happy to see them. Seymour tells her what’s happened to Alisa over the past three months (always the storyteller, I guess), and it takes a long time, of course. When he’s done, Paula sends Seymour back to John, who has been playing a video game in his bedroom and who is now waiting for Seymour, and takes Alisa for a walk on the beach.

Paula wants to know more about why Alisa found Teri and why she gave her blood. Alisa says that she was desperately lonely, but Paula points out that she has been lonely all of her life, so why try to fill that void now. Paula pushes and pushes, and finally Alisa bursts out that she doesn’t know, she couldn’t resist Teri. They talk about how Alisa is so quick to judge and how confident in her ability to do so.

The advice Paula gives is this: leave Teri and Matt alone and let them live their lives because if she doesn’t, Teri will die, or worse — but she can’t say what is worse. Also, Alisa needs to stop living in the past. She came to Paula because Paula was like Suzama. Kalika happened because of Lalita. She wants to talk to John because of Krishna.

Alisa blows up at this and demands that Paula help her.

Paula tells her that Shanti can block the Array, even though Seymour didn’t tell her that part of it. But why the hell didn’t he? He was supposed to tell her the entire story, or at least as much of it as he knows, and he certainly knows that part.

Suzama knew about the Telar and never spoke of them on purposes; Paula knows of many sleeping enemies but doesn’t tell Alisa because that would be to wake them and send them after Alisa.

Alisa doesn’t get to see John, but Seymour is blissed out after. John’s been playing the same game over and over, Cosmic Intuitive Illusion – CII backward. The goal is survival, and this one involves fighting your way through higher, more exotic worlds until you reach the center of the galaxy. Subtle. John hasn’t made it off earth yet, he keeps dying, and he takes it very seriously.

Alisa takes Shanti with her to look for the Telar. Shanti now knows Alisa is a vampire, and she still loves and trusts her. Alisa claims she is as devoted to Shanti as Shanti is to her. Though Shanti knows the dangers of the mission, she’s unafraid.

They have not only come to Arosa to find the Telar but also so Alisa can try to learn more about Yaksha’s past. She paints a picture of him that could pass as a photograph and goes around town asking about him even though she knows that makes her an easy target for the Telar. People tell her they recognise Yaksha, but can’t remember when they saw him last.

Finally, she smells him in a hotel, the Pratchli.  Alisa going as Lara, speaks to the owner, Horace. He knew Yaksha, who called himself Yak, because good god, man, be less subtle, huh? Yaksha kept two rooms, one at the top and one in the basement where he spent most of his time and wrote a very large book. Alisa breaks the news to him that Yaksha is dead, and he is truly sad.

Yaksha left his book in a complicated safe in the basement. The secret basement. Horace’s great-great-grandfather left a diary that said to only use it in the event of an attack, and when Yaksha arrived, he knew of it without being told and said he was there to make sure they were never attacked.

Once Alisa passes a test and finds the safe, Horace admits that Yaksha told him about her, about her beauty and strength and grace. He then leaves her alone with the safe. She examines it and thinks that some of the metal in it will be impervious to her strength and might even be similar to those special handcuffs she used on Numbria.

(That sounded way less dirty before I typed it.)

The lock as 24 numbers, the type of Sanskrit they used to speak had 24 letters, and so she goes through trying names. Krishna first, in various spellings, and then Yaksha and Sita. And it turns out to be “I love you, Sita.” Oh my god.

Alisa talks Horace into letting her take the book (and without using her powers on him) and promises not to copy it and to return it first thing in the morning. First thing she does is get a copy machine and make copies of the 5000 page book. Shit, Yaksha. Shit. And I was complaining about this one being 500 pages. (I … do not actually want to count up how many pages I will have read of The Last Vampire books by the time I finish recapping the series.)

Yaksha starts his book “not with the night I was born, although I remember it well. Nor will I begin with the summer when I realized what I was, or the time I murdered my first human being, or even the painful evening I proclaimed my love to Sita. I must start with the instant I met Krishna, and asked myself if he truly was God, if such a being did indeed exist…”

Alisa is not surprised because she might have started her own story there if she’d told it instead of Seymour. Except you bonded with him, so couldn’t you have made him start there? No take-backs, Pike.

Yaksha writes about how hard it was to kill each member of his extended vampire family. She talks a lot more fondly about them and how Yaksha cared for them that she ever did in the previous books. I get that we’re supposed to believe that it was all filtered through Seymour, but this really feels like a cheat of an excuse to bring her back, and since the entire fact these last three books exist turn on that, it is frustrating.

Apparently one of the vampires figured out what Yaksha was doing and led an uprising against him. Yaksha only one because he went to a local raja, convinced him that the fort had been taken over by demons, and got an army of 5000 soldiers and attacked at midday. Still, the vampire army held them off during the first attack, but eventually Yaksha used catapults to throw fire at the fort, and I don’t know why he didn’t start with that but okay, cool. Especially because he invented the goddamn catapult, apparently.

(LOOK, AUTHORS, YOUR CHARACTERS DO NOT NEED TO HAVE INVENTED EVERY GODDAMN THING IN HISTORY I AM LOOKING AT YOU, JEAN AUEL.)

Many of the vampires escaped, though, and headed across the sea. Yaksha, devastated, returns to Krishna to beg to be released from his vow. Krishna is supposed to be near Delhi where there are two factions at war. Alisa was at that war, looking for a glimpse of Krishna, and she never knew Yaksha was there, either, and for all her long years, one of the greatest mysteries of her life happened there: Arjuna, leading one arm, threw down his bow and arrow and said he wouldn’t fight; Krishna gave him the Bhagavad Gita, the Lord’s Song, the Indian equivalent of the Bible. (Is that comparison apt? Pike makes it, so I am automatically suspect.) Krishna blocked Alisa from hearing what he said, so she’s had to take it on faith that the book is an accurate record. Turns out, he didn’t block Yaksha, and reading Yaksha’s book shows her that everything was true. She’s overjoyed, because it’s like a Christian learning that every word of the gospels was true. She’s not sure why it means so much to her, though, because she’s neither Christian nor Hindu. Apparently Yaksha fought with Arjuna and helped him win the battle.

Krishna sent Yaksha to the unknown continent where those other vampires went when they escaped, and they have no set up a culture of human sacrifice. Why must everything be tied to your characters, Pike? Why? Krishna also warned Yaksha about the Telar, an even more dangerous group of immortals. He will not be able to destroy them, but Krishna asks him to try to contain them. He can do that because he has forgotten much of what they once knew, and Krishna gave it to Yaksha instead.

The Hydra has its origin in the Telar: it is, of course, a many-headed monster and if you chop off one head, it grows another. No single head is strong, but when all the heads align, no power on earth can stop it. That is its strength. And Yaksha says he understands.

Alisa doesn’t understand at all, and she is furious because it sounds too much like the Array, but the IIC has the Array, not the Telar and blah blah blah blah blah, do you not see how some of them could have split apart and forgotten they were ever together or that maybe you don’t actually know what’s going on?

Alisa puts a copy of the book into her carry-on bag and gives it to Shanti. Shanti is sending her back to America to give the book to Seymour, who has returned to New York. It’s worth Alisa risking an Array attack to get the book to Seymour because it might have the answers they need, if he gets a Vedic scholar to translate for him. Because of course Alisa isn’t finding one for him for some reason — oh. Quite conveniently, Shanti’s uncle knows Sanskrit and reads Vedic scriptures in his spare time. But of course.

Shanti tells Alisa that she loves her when she leaves; Alisa tells her that she is love. Ugh, my heart. I really adore Shanti for all that we’ve not seen much of her. (…we’ve not seen much of any character but Alisa, considering I’m at nearly 350 pages so far.)

Alisa goes down to the vault and locks the book back inside. Horace locks her inside the suite and talks to her through a speaker, his Swiss accent is gone. He is, I am unsurprised to learn, a Telar.

The Telars leave Alisa alone in her cage for two days. She’s surrounded by that metal that she can’t break, and they hid it by covering it with a layer of varnished oak that overwhelmed the smell of the metal. She spends a lot of time thinking about Krishna and reading the rest of Yaksha’s book.

One of the Telar, Haru, comes to visit her after a few days. He’s the ruler of the Source, and he is Umara’s brother. Umara is the woman who married Yaksha. Yaksha and Umara had a son, Keshava, and Haru burned them alive. Jesus fucking christ, dude. Also: Keshava, totes alive, right?

Oh lord. Haru has dark hair and eyes and copper skin, and of course he is evil and ugly against Alisa’s blonde and pale beauty and perfection. Jesus, Pike.

Haru’s voice has a metallic timbre that makes it seem robotic, which is interesting. Haru knows much about Alisa, both because he has spies everywhere and because he read Seymour’s manuscript.

Haru admits that he hasn’t read Yaksha’s book start to finish yet, because they really couldn’t break into the vault until Alisa opened it. Yaksha and Umara designed it together, blending his knowledge with hers, and made it very complicated.

He plays nice for awhile, but Alisa shuts that down and tells him to get to the point. He does, and asks her questions, threatening her with the Pulse if she doesn’t answer; it is a machine that taps directly into the pain and pleasure centers of the brain.

First he asks about the Array and whether IIC has used it on her. She tells him about that time at Cynthia’s house. He pushes to find out what happened with Numbria, seeming to know they used the Array on her then, too.

They talk about Yaksha and how he wanted to rid the world of both vampires and Telar as enemies of humanity but only managed to do so with the vampires. But the Telar couldn’t kill him, either, and Haru says it’s because he had information from Krishna and then Umara, too. Otherwise, Haru thinks they could have handled him and that he might even have joined them.

He asks her where Shanti went with the copy of the book, and then what she knows about the Suzama prophecies. When she refuses to answer either, he tells her about the wires and the optics of the Pulse. He promises not to use it on her if she answers just one question: where are Paula and John.

Alisa, of course, refuses to answer.

Haru and his guards leave and immediately an odorless gas knocks her out. She wakes up in the same chair, chained down, the chair bolted to the floor, IVs in both arms and wires and glass tubes in her skull.

Haru returns wearing scrubs and disposable slippers, which are not good signs. He tells her she can minimise the damage by holding still and avoid the pain by answering his questions honestly.

First, he asks again about Numbria. She tells him in as much detail as she can remember, getting bored because she doesn’t know what he’s looking for, until she gets an idea about the question she asked of Numbria about the Telar’s role in modern society, the one that caused Numbria to freak out so much she had to be further sedated.

He tells her she’s skipping something in that section, Alisa asks for a hint, and he turns on the Pulse. Everything is pain and she can’t block it, she can’t get a handle on it, because it is too deep. She has no identity, she only exists to experience pain.

That was on a three. The dial goes to a ten. No one has ever experienced ten and been able to talk afterwards, not even a Telar. They did it to Yaksha, though obviously not to a ten, and Alisa understands why he killed so many of them. She’s also starting to feel despair for the first time since she was captured.

They talk about Numbria again, and how she said the Telar have no desire to help humanity but to wipe out the plague and to leave a few humans alive to study and to learn from them. He says that’s not true, but Alisa is repeating what Numbria said.

He asks if they should destroy humanity or not. Alisa tells him that his plan is monstrous. She knows people better than anyone, their good and bad, but it is their planet and they have a right to life. He tells her that they’ve already destroyed the bulk of humanity several times. One of the was the plague. He does not tell her what they will use this time, but does say that the earth can’t bear the weight of 7 billion people who are destroying the earth. Which is, you know, not necessarily wrong, but more importantly for the book, the same speech Cynthia gave Alisa.

Alisa tells him to work with the humans, to share the Telar technology to clean up the world. He says the decision has already been made by the Source and ignores her when she points out that he’s the head of the damn Source. He also won’t tell her how they are going to do it or exactly when, but says it is soon.

He asks if she believes in god, and she tells him that she doesn’t know. She met Krishna and radiated love and power and was not a normal human being, but what does it mean to call someone a god? She can’t say. He wants to know if she felt compelled to obey Krishna; she points out she created two vampires to save their lives after promising him she wouldn’t, and then says that she tried to follow the example he set.

She wants to know why he cares, and he says it’s because Krishna told Yaksha to kill as many of the Telar as possible; if they let Alisa go, Haru is certain she will do the same. Except that Krishna didn’t tell her to kill them, so your question is moot.

Alisa offers to make a deal with him, if they work together to get rid of Cynthia and the IIC, she has no need to kill them. She tells him that she’s discovered a way to block the Array and she’ll tell him if he releases her. Instead, he uses the Pulse again. The pain is worse. He monologues at her about humanity damaging the earth and needing to be destroyed, we literally just had this speech, oh my god. No wonder this book is so damn long.

Oh, but then he lets out that the Telar are behind every great war humanity has fought, and specifically that they helped the Nazis. And I get at least one of the reasons Pike did this; he’s trying to create an all-powerful, terrifying organisation, and he puts Alisa into situations where she was there for famous things and knows famous historical figures all the time.

This is different. Putting the blame of wars, of the Holocaust, on some sort of mythical, immortal race removes the culpability of the very real, very dangerous people who were actually the cause and carrying out the actions. The type of people who have never gone away, who are rising again around the world. And removing that culpability does a disservice to the people who survived them, the people who did not, and the people who fought to stop them. People did these things, good and bad, and putting an inhuman source behind it wipes away the true danger of what people can do.

One of Alisa’s suggestions about how the Telar can work with humanity is to make them immortal, too, because short lives mean they don’t see why they should worry about the planet but long lives would show them the true damage they are causing. Haro refuses this, of course, and calls out her hypocrisy for hoarding her own blood.

He threatens to kill her, she tells him to do it, he asks about how the Array work. She doesn’t know, but tells him that they use children and teenagers to make it work by asking them yes or no questions over the phone. She tells him about Shanti being one of them, and that she brought Shanti with her to Arosa because they protect each other from the IIC. Shanti can block the Array. Alisa doesn’t know how. Haro doesn’t believe this part at all. She theorises that the Array doesn’t work in the presence of kindness, which spooks Haru.

He turns the conversation back to Paula and John, where they are, whether John is a virgin birth, whether Paula is the reincarnation of Suzama, whether Paula can predict the future. He asks again where they are, and again Alisa refuses. Haru turns the dial up to eight, but in the instant before the pain starts, Alisa thinks of Krishna and his deep blue eyes, and how pain is equal to Christ’s sacrifice. she suffers this pain to protect John; she loves him. She will always love him. And he refused to see her before because he wanted to force her to see him inside. She visualises staring into Krishna’s eyes, and for the first time, she sees him staring back.

The pain hits, and it is worse than ever, and it is not transformed. The only thing that changes is that it doesn’t obliterate her sense of self. She is still Sita, the last vampire, and she opens her eyes and talks to Haru. He shouts at his helpers that they’ve wired her wrong, and she tells him that it doesn’t matter what he does with his wires. She gave him the answer to all his questions, but he rejected it because it terrifies him. He knows what is stronger than the Array and the Pulse, and he’s scared because he has no capacity to care for anyone anymore.

He takes a laser gun or whatever they have and holds it to her head. She prepares to speak her last word, but then there is a noise above them, a high vibration and a sizzling sound, then she smells the sweet odor of burned human flesh.

Someone has come to rescue her.

One Telar woman who has been terribly burned staggers down to tell Haru that the Abomination is coming. Haru claims that is impossible, but as she dies, the woman says he is alive and he is coming.

WELP HELLO SON OF YAKSHA AND UMARA.

Haru runs away to warn the Source, leaving his guards with Alisa telling them to use her as a shield if they must but to not let her escape because she’s as dangerous as the Abomination. While they’re waiting for the Abomination to come, we learn the metal is called Neutra, because sure, why not. The only thing that can cut through it is a disruptor, but there’s no way he checked one out from the Source, or so they claim.

One of the guards asks if she can help them stop the Abomination. She says she doesn’t know, she’s never met him, but she is stronger than the Telar, so probably. They talk a bit, and he does release her, but first says that she needs to know not all of them approve of Haru’s approach and many of them didn’t want to take her hostage. He was close to the Source himself until Haru had him demoted.

Dakor, this guard, works quickly but delicately to remove the wires and fiber optics from her brain. He’s almost done when the top hinge of the door starts to sizzle and smoke. One of the guards thinks that means he has a disruptor, but Dakor says the Abomination gathered all the lasers and focused the beams on a single spot, which is pretty clever. He’s not trying to melt it, he’s just trying to soften it.

Dakor frees Alisa’s feet, but not her arms as they all four watch as the hinges slowly soften, one at a time — and then the door explodes inward. (And again, Pike uses an exclamation mark that mostly just looks ridiculous. We already get the sentence on its own line and the door exploding. The exclamation mark is pointless.

The Abomination kills one guard, Alisa tries to get free of the chair but can’t, and the Abomination says that if they drop their weapons, they will live. She recognises the voice. It is Matt. And, okay, I did not see that coming, though I knew there would be a reveal around him at some point.

Alisa reveals she knows him, and of Dakor is furious now. She knows it was a mistake to let on they’d met, even though she had no idea about him being the Abomination, but Dakor doesn’t care. Matt tries to make peace with Dakor, but he, or someone in that fight, killed Dakor’s father when Dakor’s father tried to kill his father. Clearly.

Alisa finally figures out that Keshava is Yaksha’s son, a vampire-Telar hybrid, and that is why he is so powerful. Glad you caught up, honey, though I will cut you some slack what with all that pain you just went through.

Alisa fights Dakor while she’s still tied to her chair, but doesn’t want to hurt him; Matt shoots him, though, because he apparently knows Dakor will never work with them. Matt kills the last guard, too, frees Alisa, and tells her that he’s mad at her, that will come later after they escape. Shanti reached Seymour and they’re safe, but Alisa has opened a door by coming there, and now the Telar know he’s alive. The Telar will hunt the two of them until the day they die. It is the last thing he wanted for Teri.

Matt has an Apache helicopter waiting for them; it is one of the toys Yaksha collected. Alisa loves to hear Matt refer to him as dad, but is still jealous of Umara because she had Yaksha’s child and Alisa never could. All female vampires are barren. If that’s true, then why the fuck can the dudes knock people up? Why is that always the way the story goes? Sperm and egg make life, so why does one fail and the other not? That’s fucked up.

Oooh, Umara is alive as well, but they’ve stayed apart because it doubles their chances that one of them will survive. Seymour told him about Paula and John, because Seymour figured out who he was after reading the book. Seymour, Shanti, and Teri are in a fortress safe house in Colorado; Lisa’s still in Missouri.

Matt admits that the last time he talked to Yaksha, Yaksha told him to protect her. And that he knows Yaksha loved her too much to ever hurt her. Matt sought out Teri to find Alisa, because Yaksha knew she was fond of spying on her descendants. He was curious about her and wanted to see her because he’d heard so much about her.

He thinks that Lisa unintentionally led the Telar to Alisa because the Telar have been following everyone who works at IIC’s Malibu office. When she asks why the Telar care so much about the IIC, he’s a bit sarcastic because it’s clear: the Telar have been in power for 10 thousand years but suddenly there’s a new player in town that no one knows taking control of every major company in the world. She’s testing him, and he figures it out, but not super quickly, it’s clear. Also, of course she’s testing him. He very well could be working with the IIC, at least, if not the Telar themselves. He’s annoyed by this, but he really shouldn’t be, considering he’s known who she is all along but she had no idea. Why the hell would she trust you?

Alisa admits that she’s teasing him because she’s embarrassed that he was able to trick her so thoroughly.

Matt tells her that he thinks Yaksha meant to return to him after that last visit with Alisa, though she is still certain he came to kill her and then die himself. Matt doesn’t think he even got to say good-bye to Umara.

He tells her that Yaksha learned of the IIC right before he went to visit Alisa and one of the last things he told Matt was that the Hydra returns; Alisa points out that Krishna said the Hydra was connected to the Telar. Are you still not considering that there is some connection? Really? I thought that was in your head four hundred pages ago (why is this book so damn long oh my god).

Alisa feels like she’s close to a major breakthrough; she can’t fit the pieces of the puzzle together, but she knows which one belong on the board now, so she bounces ideas off Matt.

  • Are the Hydra and the Array related? He doesn’t know, but the Telar seem unable to fight it. Alisa thinks it’s possible the Telar had the Array in the past but had forgotten the knowledge of how to make it. They’re old enough even important information might have been lost. His mother is the oldest Telar alive, so that’s a fairly valid theory.

Oh, wait, nope, that’s really it. Way to set that up as bigger than it was going to be, Pike.

The Telar come for them in a fighter jet, launch two heat-seeking missiles, they clear out a bonfire of kids so they can hover in front of it and then at the last second, Matt jerks the Apache to one side so the missiles lock onto the bonfire. Alisa fires some missiles at the jets, but misses, then pounds them with the Gatling guns, which are clearly her new favourite weapons besides her own body. The jets crash into a mountain and explode.

Matt reveals that the only reason the Telar lured her to Arosa is because Yaksha lived there and they knew she would make that connection. Their headquarters are actually in Washington D.C. Subtle, Pike.

Five days later, they’re in Colorado in a house with an easy escape into the mines. Both house and mines are loaded with weapons, enough to take on a small army. He spends his days teaching them how not to blow each other up and his nights explaining everything to Teri.

I’m not sure how I feel about a dude coming in to teach Alisa so much. One of the appeals of this series for me has always been having a woman as the main character, and an angry woman, a killer, someone who is not afraid to fight and destroy and do whatever it takes to survive. Having someone else step in to take charge is strange.

Alisa mourns all the changes she’s brought to Teri, is worried about Lisa who refuses to leave Missouri where she’s still teaching, and struggles with Matt taking on leadership. You and me both, darling. She and Seymour throw around theories together, trying to find answers; one thing Alisa wonders is whether the Telar have forgotten what gave them their immortality in the first place. Alisa thinks they did something to trigger their nervous systems into a higher level of functioning; Seymour doesn’t like leaping to assumptions and thinks it is also possible that they are a different branch of humanity with DNA that acts more like vampire DNA and is self-correcting. Alisa doesn’t think that explains Krishna’s statement that they lost their secret or Haru’s desire for help.

Alisa has, again, used her blood to cure him of the HIV virus. She’s done it because her time in Arosa made her realise she had fallen for Krishna’s greatest illusion, that she will never die, but she now knows she could die any day.

They talk too about how the Telar might destroy humanity; Seymour thinks the cleanest way for them (as opposed to nuclear weapons, which they have but which would also do serious damage to the earth) would be to develop a supervirus, vaccinate their people against it, and release the virus at points of global travel. Which is basically Pandemic, one of my favourite games.

Alisa wants to figure out which side is more dangerous because she’s thinking about joining one side; specifically, about helping the IIC because the Telar seem more dangerous at this moment. He calls that the logic of a sociopath, which is true, but I can’t disagree. Sometimes you have to use the weapons to hand, and those weapons are your enemies.

Seymour tried to reach Paula and John, and did once, long enough to learn they’ve moved, but he doesn’t know how to reach them now. Which at least means they’re safe for the moment. Seymour’s also been playing Cosmic Intuitive Illusion a lot. It’s a free game, it’s high quality, and it’s put out by Ascension. He’s still not sure why John is obsessed with it, though. Seymour hasn’t been able to battle his way to the departing spacecraft to move off earth and into the next part of the game. It’s not a shooting contest, it’s more about walking “a moralistic tightrope where you make wise and compassionate decisions. In each situation you encounter, you have to decide whether to follow your head or your heart.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: subtle.

(I have to admit, though, this game sounds fucking awesome.)

They then try to figure out why Haru wants John. Maybe it’s because Haru is worried John is another Krishna, though Alisa thinks that’s a big leap. Seymour is having thoughts about the Telar, because they are more like humans than vampires and it’s possible that they are searching for guidance, a la Suzama, because of it. Alisa vehemently disagrees because she believes she has far more humanity than Haru. Which is probably a true statement, but that doesn’t mean the Telar as a whole aren’t more like humanity than vampires as a whole.

Shanti runs up on them, because Matt says the Telar are coming, and too many of them at that.

Matt sends Seymour, Shanti, and Teri to hide in the mine. Seymour wants to fight, but Matt points out that soon the fight will be coming to them anyway, because Matt and Alisa will have to retreat.

They have a mix of Telar and human weapons, and Alisa is hardcore looking forward to turning Claudious’ Gatling gun on his associates. Oh my god, Alisa, I love you so much.

Shanti wants to stay with Alisa to protect her from the IIC, but Alisa sends her back anyway, because they are only making a brief stand. Alisa and Matt continue to prepare, including adding gas masks because they both worry that Haru has some sort of surprise in store.

They hold off on fighting, wanting the Telar to make the first move, until Matt sees what he thinks are disruptors, and then he wants her to kill as many as she can in 60 seconds, force the rest to take cover, and then 12 Telar grenades over the bluff.

“Bloody Sita is armed and dangerous,” Alisa says, because she is the best.

Alisa shoots a bunch of Telar and their weapons; the laser gun makes the water in the body boil quickly, so several of her targets explode because of the sudden steam inside their bodies, which is both awesome and gross.

She takes off her gas mask to put in earplugs because the Gatling gun is so loud; of course, she’s too busy to put it back on. The plugs also crush her ear implants that her speak with Matt, because Alisa is making A+ choices right now. Why the fuck didn’t Matt have over the ear protection specifically for this situation? Their hearing is so much more powerful anyway, even a small gunshot should hurt.

The grenades make some great explosions in the Telar vehicles and camp, but then the house explodes and Alisa can’t reach Matt any longer. She freaks out a moment, but it is short lived because he joins her again immediately, so this tension doesn’t really work. The explosion came because the disruptors work by splitting atoms, so it looks like a nuclear bomb.

They prep for the second wave, Matt finishing off the first wave as he does. The second wave parachutes out of cargo planes far enough away that the laser rifles won’t hit them, and then once they’re on the ground, they come immediately. There are at least 400 of them this time. Then Matt brings in a heavily armed assault helicopter. Not their escape one, but a “spare.” Oh my god, Matt. Matt detonates his land mines, all Bouncing Bettys because they shoot into the air when they explode. There are thousands of them.

Alisa can’t even handle watching it, but soon Matt is dragging her away, because the Telar released something into the air, she’s not wearing her gas mask, and if it gets into the mine, it will kill the humans. Alisa feels an unbearable itch. She cant’ stop scratching and the more she scratches, the more she bleeds.

Matt believes this is what Haru’s going to use to kill humanity.

As they approach the mine, Alisa hears three Telar hidden nearby. She doesn’t want her and Matt to take a virus into the mine; Matt thinks it feels more like an external agent, not something that has infected them, but she’s not convinced. She thinks the three hidden Telar released it, so they should know what it is and might even know a way to treat it.

They argue a bit, but Alisa leaves him to guard the mine and goes to get the Telar. Alisa explodes two of the three and attacks the third, a guy, trying to get him to tell her about what he released. She gets him to talk by threatening to turn him into a vampire, which is a smart thing to do considering how the Telar feel about vampires.

It is both a virus and a toxin, and it’s extremely contagious. When you inhale it, it multiplies. The woman who released it, now dead, carries both a vaccine and more of the pathogen in her back. You can treat 50 people with one small vial of the vaccine and infect a million people with the same size vial of the pathogen. Cooooooool.

He’s a scientist who helped test the virus/toxin, X6X6, though he didn’t think it would ever be used. Right, sure you didn’t. That’s exactly what you told yourself so you wouldn’t feel guilty about doing this work. Alisa takes him with her back down to the entrance to the mine. Matt’s glad to see her, but not Charlie, the Telar scientist.

Alisa gives Matt the vaccine, Charlie freaks out because he’s facing the Abomination, and Matt takes Charlie deeper into the mine while Alisa sets the grenade to close it off.

Inside, Charlie says he never worked on the vaccine, which was another line of research, so he’s probably not going to be much help with making more. Still, he believes he can break it down into its component parts because of his scientific experience, and Alisa and Matt agree to keep him alive for awhile.

They catch up with their friends, give them the vaccine, too, and just in time because even underground, they were infected, and then hike underground toward the other exit where the helicopter waits. They get to it hours later and take off; Alisa wants them to ditch it quickly, but Matt wants to go on to Denver because he has plans there.

Sure enough, an hour later, an alarm sounds because someone is trying to acquire them on a radar. Should have listened to Alisa, asshole.  Matt believes it is another helicopter flying at about the same altitude, and it is a radar to lock on weapons. Seriously, maybe listen to Alisa, cool?

At least he admits she was right.

Alisa has Matt pull the same trick she did waaaaaay back in the desert with Joel, which is to get some cover and jump down into a lake. Matt is going to keep flying the helicopter until the weapons lock on and then jump out himself at the last minute.

Charlie can’t swim, so this is literally Alisa throwing him into the deep end to learn, which made me laugh out loud when I realised it. Alisa and Shanti jump together; hitting the ice is like hitting a brick wall, and Alisa takes the blow for Shanti and yet somehow Seymour and Teri are going to come through this okay? Sure, Pike.

Seymour managed to land where Alisa broke the ice, which I very much doubt, but Teri hit the ice and shattered her right leg. She’s bleeding hard enough that Alisa worries she’ll bleed to death shortly. Ooooh, is it vampire time?

Charlie manages not to drown and points them into a cave where they can take shelter, then offers to collect driftwood and join them in a minute. Alisa takes him up on this. I would not be so trusting, myself.

Alisa tries to use her blood to fix the artery problems Teri is having, but some of her body rejects it while some accepts it, which is weird even to Alisa.

Dude, Shanti and Charlie actually return carrying driftwood. Charlie, I am shocked at you. Alisa then sends him out to help Seymour who is struggling. Alisa can’t reach Matt on his super protected, super secure cell phones, but she’s not willing to accept he’s dead. She assumes he’s alive, no matter what kind of beating he took, and is heading toward their rendezvous spot in Evanston.

Alisa sends Charlie and Shanti to hike toward Evanston, which is about 20 miles east of their position. Charlie swears allegiance to them, and Alisa trusts this, though again, I’m not sure I would. I guess she doesn’t have much choice.

Teri wakes up long enough to tell Alisa not to turn her, that she can’t be like her, that she should let Teri die. Then she passes out again, and Alisa is still torn on what to do. Alisa watches and waits and knows that if Teri dies, Alisa will never love again and she’ll have no reason to live. That — seems a bit much, considering how many other people you claim to love at this moment.

And now we’ve hit an epilogue and a Seymour point of view chapter. UGH NO. Alisa or bust. (Though thank god we’re almost to the end holy shit.) Seymour hates funerals and this one is going to be worse than most. Paula and John are there, but it isn’t helping the way he hoped. (He’s also feeling guilty because he has a private number to call John even though Alisa does not have any way to contact them now.)

There’s some grossness about fat people and India.

They eat together, and Seymour notices some dark blisters on her face. He has some on his leg. This could mean the end of the world, but he tries not to think about it.

Charlie is at the funeral, too, wearing a brand-new Armani suit, because that’s certainly important during this whole potential end of the world thing going on. (He’s also doing everything he can to be accepted by the family, which is both adorable and worrying, because I still don’t trust him.) Lisa is there, too, standing with Matt and “a certain blond woman everyone knew but no one was talking to. It was kind of strange to be carrying a prejudice to a funeral…it was not really a prejudice–it was more a fear.”

Oh lord.

It is, of course, Teri.

Flashback to when Seymour woke up three days before, and he found Teri asleep next to him, alive but silent. Matt and Alisa are outside together, fighting. Matt is furious at her, but Alisa is furious at him, too, and they both blame each other for putting Teri in danger. Matt is certain that Teri did not want Alisa to save her like this; Alisa is broken over the idea that she could not let her die. Matt knows she’s lying to him, though.

They fight more, they cry together, they talk about life and death and how people change and how at least she’ll be there to change. And on the one hand, I get it, but on the other hand, she fucking asked you to let her die. Respect her goddamn wishes.

Then the Array kicks in and turns Matt on Alisa. He speaks in ways that he would not when on his own, about blood whores and Teri not leaving his bed to suck on other men. Alisa tries to use Teri’s name to stop Matt, but it is the wrong thing to do.

Seymour tries to stop Matt, Matt shoots at him, Alisa leaps between them. The laser beam melts a chunk of her heart but doesn’t make her explode. Her blood pours out, “blood that turned to red dust the instant it touched the air. Dust that in turn changed to gold flakes, as a sweet-smelling breeze suddenly swept the area.”

Alisa whispers Krishna’s name and she falls.

Alisa, last of the vampires, was no more.

That is not where the epilogue ends, though it would have been a gut punch of an ending. Instead we’re back to the funeral and they all talk about how they loved her, how she helped them — everyone but Teri and John. John rests his head on the sweet-smelling maple coffin and stays there for many long minutes. Then he goes to Teri, holds her hands, then lets her go.

Seymour stays when the others leave and thinks about how Alisa being able to say Krishna’s name means that she’s now one with him. Seymour hopes this is true, because she, of all people, deserves to find peace.

After some time, Teri comes up to him. She talks about feeling confused the first few days. And now she’s the last vampire. She says that’s true, nothing has changed. Then she says she’s not Matt’s girl. Nothing’s changed.

Aaaaand it’s Alisa in Teri’s body.

Yeah, that ending is nowhere near as powerful as ending it a few pages before. Poor choice, Pike.

Final Thoughts

Oh my god thank fuck that is done. Which is probably not how I should be feeling, but it is. There’s a lot going on in this, but for all the action, it doesn’t seem like the book needed to be this many pages. It’s not exactly a slow build, but it kind of is at the same time. It’s not that I would have cut out any particular plot point, but the whole thing feels bloated.

Still, it’s a lot of fun, and Alisa continues to be ridiculous and over-confident and selfish and strong and wonderful. I love her so much.

… oh god, next month is another 500 pages I am going to die.

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