Title: Last Vampire #5: Evil Thirst by Christopher Pike
Summary: Alisa’s daughter, Kalika, a bloodthirsty monster with powers far beyond Alisa’s, is gone. It is Alisa’s task to track her down and destroy her.
Yet Alisa still has trouble believing her daughter is totally evil. She still hopes to save Kalika, even if it means risking her own life—and perhaps the lives of everyone in the world.
Tagline: She had the power of a demon.
I’ve been thinking about it, and I could have sworn I’ve read this one, too, but again, I have no recollection of what happened or where this is going. Also, I’m about to do some travelling and so have been writing a bunch of recaps so I can schedule them before I go; if I sound weird in this one, that’s probably why. Finally, I hope I don’t have to type that title too often, because I’ve already typoed it as Evil Thirsty. Twice.
Again, that cover looks super familiar, so if I haven’t read it, I must have owned it, but if I owned it, I would have read it — my brain my brain my brain.
We open with Alisa telling the reader that she’s a vampire, and that for centuries she thought she was the last vampire on earth; she survived the vampires that came for her (first Yaksha, her creator, and then Eddie who had stolen Yaksha’s blood), only to then give birth to a daughter “of unfathomable power and incomprehensible persuasion — Kalika, Kali Ma, the Dark Mother, the Supreme Goddess of Destruction.”
So that’s how we’re kicking this off then. Cool.
Alissa has three “small” problems:
- She doesn’t know where Kalika is.
- She knows she must destroy Kalika.
- She loves Kalika.
…STEPHENIE MEYER, YOU GOT YOUR INSPIRATION HERE DIDN’T YOU, LIAAAAAAR.
Oh, and there’s another child, the son of Alisa’s friend Paula Ramirez, who was born to rival Kalika and who brought Alisa’s closest friend, Seymour Dorsten, back from the dead. Alisa doesn’t know where they are, and she doesn’t know if they’re with Kalika, but she does know that if they are with Kalika, they’re probably dead.
Alisa drags Seymour to the Unity Church in Santa Monica. It’s been three months since that last confrontation with Kalika, and Seymour has no idea that the other baby’s blood brought him back to life. He still wants to become a vampire and have sex with Alisa, because god forbid they be friends without the pressure for sex between them.
Seymore is not thrilled that Alisa has brought him to a New Age lecture: The Birth of Christ — an Egyptian Prophecy Fulfilled by Dr Donald Seter, founder of the Suzama Society. Alisa wants to see this talk because on a radio show, Dr Seter said that Chris has been reborn, and on the exact day that Paula’s son was born, and he claims to possess an ancient Egyptian scripture that gives details of the rebirth.
Alisa would have discounted that part except for the whole Paula’s baby thing and because she knew the original Suzama nearly 5000 years ago; Suzama was her teacher at one point, of course, because Alisa knows literally everyone who will ever be useful, past or present. Alisa knows that Suzama was actually clairvoyant, but she’s never heard of this scripture before.
Seymour argues that he’s bored by the whole Christian thing because they’ve been waiting 2000 years for him to show up; if he was coming, he would have arrived already. Alisa, though, still believes Krishna’s promise that he would return and that he would not be recognised.
Alisa knows she has to let Seymour know something or he won’t attend with her, but she worries because the more she brings him into her life, the more danger he’s in. She tries to remember that it’s his decision to stay, even after seeing what Kalika can do.
She’s also worried because Paula hasn’t called the number Alisa told her to call, even though she should have done so two months ago. Maybe Kalika got to her first, but Alisa has no way to know for sure. She thinks she’ll get some sort of clue of their location from Dr Seter, even though that makes absolutely no sense.
Alisa tells Seymour about studying with Suzama, a priestess of the Church of Isis, a high adept in ancient Egypt. Oh god, here we go with more White Woman Alisa. (I’m reading My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due right now as a wonderful counter to the cultural appropriation and ALL WHITE ALL THE TIME of these books.)
Suzama taught Alisa to “bring the white light above her head into her heart” — basically, esoteric forms of meditation. She promises to tell him more about Suzama later, and they head into the lecture. Dr Seter has followers, all dressed alike in navy blue clothes with shiny faces, but she’s hesitant to call it a cult, and even if he’s formed one, she doesn’t really care so long as he knows what he’s talking about.
One of the followers, James Seter, is greeting people, and he asks how Alisa heard about it; she heard that radio interview on KEXT. James is, of course, Dr Seter’s son, and he is, also of course, already showing signs of being attracted to Alisa. He tells them a little bit about the Suzama scripture and how it predicted Christ’s coming the first time very accurately, and how it will do the same for the next coming — or rather, has done the same.
Though the place is crowded, Alisa and Seymour squeeze in near the front, because god forbid Alisa ever have to sit farther back from what she wants.
Dr Seter is a man of maybe seventy, though he looks sixty; his vitality and bright gray eyes make him seem younger than he really is, but he is not as handsome as James, and Alisa figures out that James is adopted. Dr Seter has Ph.D.s in theology and archaeology and has published numerous papers and three books.
Dr Seter is fairly charming. He says that if he’d been attending a lecture like that 10 years ago, he wouldn’t have made it through the introduction, because with his rigorous academic background, he’d never given much thought to Christ or the second coming, despite that doctorate in theology, which was purely academic.
He goes on to talk about the Suzama scripture coming from the culture of ancient Egypt; carbon dating and hieroglyphic analysis places it as approximately 5000 years old, which is commonly called THE TIME OF SITA — I mean, pre-dynastic Egypt. He found it in western Europe, but won’t reveal the specific country, because he stole the goddamn Suzama scripture so he could study it, without the permission of the country where he found it. Which is shitty but also raises the question, does he really think that the country where he found it asked permission of Egypt before taking it?
(He claims that as long as he refuses to name the country, he cannot be legally prosecuted, which sounds false, but I’m going to roll with it.)
Even though basic scientific credo is that nothing should be hidden away and kept secret (again, that sounds false, but I’m going to roll with it, too), he’s hidden the scripture because he thinks the information in it would be dangerous if publicly revealed, dangerous to the infant Christ and to the public as a whole. Suzama, who was a powerful clairvoyant (confirmed by Alisa to us, though not to Dr Seter yet, though he believes), included information that might allow someone to find Christ before it’s time. It also has information on powerful forms of meditation that are dangerous for the inexperienced.
ALISA TO THE RESCUE.
Dr Seter has experimented with the instructions and almost died, so he thinks it is the ultimate irresponsibility to throw the material out to the world. The ultimate in egotism to keep it hidden after stealing what was already stolen, too, but cool.
In her scripture, Suzama talks about how Christ has actually come at least four times in history: Lord Krishna of India; Adi Shankara of India; and Christ. That is … that is not four times unless you’re counting the current time, which was not what you were talking about.
Anyway, it also predicts that the same infinite soul was born within the last three months, last March 15 in California.
He talks a little about subjective exploration of Suzama’s teachings and how she’s very concrete with dates, and then answers questions: a dream led him to the scripture; Christ was reborn into a poor broken family; reborn Christ is brown skinned (WHICH HE WOULD HAVE BEEN AS JESUS CHRIST TOO); he did not have to translate the dates from the lunar calendar that Suzama must have used, because the dates were expressed in the solar one that is presently used (Alisa’s question, and this answer disappoints her); he believes her using the solar calendar only gives support to her profound intuition; she mentioned other avatars than the three he mentioned, but she said they were of a different line (also Alisa’s question, and he hesitates on the answer); and she mentions Isis (yet another Alisa question, and one he never talked about in his books); and the baby is in danger, the forces of darkness will bend even the will of the righteous to find the child and destroy him, and it is the duty of the old and powerful to help locate the child and protect him. GEE. WONDER TO WHOM SHE REFERS.
When Alisa asks if Suzama described the form the darkness will take, he tells his first lie and says no, which intrigues her; she also has gone to the same place I did, because who on the planet is older and more powerful than her? Oh, Alisa, I love you.
(She does make a point to tell Seymour that though Dr Seter hasn’t said something before that which he thinks is a lie, that doesn’t mean what he’s saying is actually true, just that he believes in what he says, which is a nice point.)
Alisa sends Seymour away because she plans to flirt with James to get to his father so she can talk to him further. She uses her suggestion on him, but he does not jump to follow it right away, and she is impressed by his strong will and loath to push him too hard for fear of damaging him in some way.
So instead she lies, and says that she also has a Suzama scripture, one she thinks is different that Dr Seter’s, and she would be happy to trade information with his father. Alisa arranges a meeting at a nearby coffee shop, the same one where she went after she shot those two men who tried to rape her, the one where Ray returned to her (you know, as a phantom). Even Alisa agrees it is a perverse desire to return there, but it’s what she wants.
Dr Seter and James do meet her there 30 minutes later, and she’s a little surprised that they came at all, but pleased. When Dr Seter calls her a student of archaeology, she corrects him: she is a student of Suzama. To prove herself, she translates a portion of the scripture that is copied in his book, something that maybe 24 people on Earth could read at a glance: The secret of the Goddess is in the sixteenth digit of the moon. Not the moon in the sky, but the moon in the high center. It is here the ambrosia of bliss is milked by the sincere seeker. It is only there the knowledge of the soul is revealed.
Dr Seter is, of course, shocked, because he did not translate that line in the text. James is more skeptical, though, because she could have had someone translate it for her before even coming to the lecture. She says that she can give them information from her “scripture” that they’ve kept hidden in theirs and haven’t published. The four-word mantra to invoke the white light above the head, for example.
She says the reason she thinks their scriptures are different is that his speaks of a danger to the new master and hers does not; she also calls him on his lie earlier about the specific danger. James says she can’t have that information, because only the inner members of their group are told. Gee, a hidden secret group studying a hidden secret scripture? I see no way that this could go terribly wrong.
Alisa calls them on how presumptuous it is for them to believe they, of all people, can protect the messiah and that the messiah even needs their protection in the first place. Dr Seter, for all his intelligence, is having a hard time keeping up with Alisa’s logic (why? it’s not hard to follow at all — Pike’s certainly not writing him as very smart; in fact, most characters come across as at best oblivious in a lot of ways in order to make Alisa look smarter, rather than writing her in a way that makes her seem actually smarter), but does tell her that the scripture itself says the child needs protection.
James warns his father not to tell Alisa too much, but Dr Seter says it is obvious that she knows as much about Suzama as they do; Alisa corrects him, because she knows different things since she’s working from a different source material. Alisa really wants to know more about how they plan to protect the child, but Dr Seter says they don’t divulge to outsiders because the government is scrutinizing every spiritual group searching for the next “crazy cult.” Fuck you too.
Alisa continues to push that she will share hers if he shows her his scripture first and promises not to harm it. James continues to be skeptical and reluctant, but Dr Seter agrees. James wants to know how they can be sure she’s not with the FBI, which is to laugh, though he doesn’t know it.
Dr Seter tells her that the scripture is in Palm Springs, which Alisa finds a grand coincidence (in a way that isn’t really a coincidence at all) because it’s on the way to Joshua Tree National Monument, where Paula believes she was visited by a higher power that made her pregnant and consequently where Alisa has been meaning to visit.
Dr Seter suggests that James show it to her in the morning because it is so late, but Alisa pushes for it to happen that night. Dr Seter asks how old she is, because she is strangely bold, and she twists it by saying that Suzama was not very old when she wrote the scripture. But he did not know that, and he wants to know how old she was. Alisa admits she’s not sure exactly, but she knows that Suzama died before her twentieth birthday.
Just like Alisa.
Alisa goes to Palm Springs on her own, but leaves a message for Seymour, just in case. (Also, Alisa feels, deep inside, that Kalika has not found the baby yet, and that Alisa will see her again soon.)
Alisa drives 50 feet behind them, off to their right in the fast lane (…is the fast lane really on the right on the way to Palm Springs? Because that is unusual, and I don’t remember it being like that at all, though it’s been a long time since I went to Palm Springs from Los Angeles); that’s close enough she can hear them talk. Good god, Alisa.
They don’t speak for the first hour, but then talk about why they are doing what they are doing and how they should wait to investigate her background before they show her anything. James is the leery one; Dr Seter believes she can’t possibly do anything without many hours of work, including translating the hieroglyphics, despite what she’s already showed them.
James believes Alisa is far older than she looks, and they both wonder if she has mastered Suzama’s practices and reversed her age. James wants full security when they show her the scripture, and has, in fact, arranged for the entire group to be there. He’s done this both because he doesn’t trust her but also because he wonders if she has direct knowledge about the child.
… and he wonders if she already knows about the Dark Mother.
Alisa nearly wrecks the car at that, because they’re talking about Kalika, and it’s quite possible that Suzama branded Alisa’s daughter as evil 5000 years ago.
James also suggests that Alisa may be working for the Black Mother. Dr Seter doubts this, but James points out that she looks 20 but knows things that would require decades of studying, she can catch their eyes and say things they have trouble resisting, etc. James is really fucking observant.
Dr Seter fully believes they have been chosen to defend the child and that is why he’s bought so many automatic weapons. That — is not going to go as well as you think, sir. Also, white dudes stockpiling weapons but never getting flagged for being terrorists when they use them. Fucking America.
Dr Seter is actually more worried that Alisa is from the government than the Dark Mother, but he still doesn’t think she can cause any harm by briefly seeing it. She won’t be able to translate anything in that time, and she won’t see anything in the center that would interest the government.
Also, James calls Alisa incredibly beautiful, and Dr Seter has noticed.
Alisa, too, has concerns about the automatic weapons, because while they might come in handy with Kalika, “guns in the hands of true believers seldom get pointed in the right direction at the right time.”
She wonders at James’ excellent intuition and wonders if it’s a result of Suzama’s meditation practices; she’s also curious as to whether they’ve been reversing their ages.
There are maybe 24 people inside, all wearing those navy blue suits, all young and attractive. Alisa does not understand the uniform thing, especially because Dr Seter seems so laid back and James seems far from a fanatic.
One of the young women, Alisa, introduces herself and asks about Alisa’s ability to read hieroglyphics; Alisa jokes that hieroglyphics and comic books have always been her favourites. I love you, Alisa!
Six of them, including James and Dr Seter, take Alisa down into the basement and into a room that is sealed against dust and dampness in order to protect the scripture. There is a fault at the far end of the basement, and the basement itself is equipped with a large white table, brilliant overhead lights, and a double ocular over-size microscope at one end, and magnifying glasses and loupes spread around. Alisa listens while one of them dials the combination to the vault and memorises it.
Alisa has a rush of excitement when they bring out the scripture, which is one foot across and two feet long and smells of ancient Egypt. The hieratic writing is tiny, carefully crafted, and definitely Suzama’s cursive. UMM. Cursive? Really?
Alisa bends to look at it, sure that Dr Seter doesn’t know how fast she can translate it, but James stares at her eyes. There’s a lot of talk about how the lord of creation is inside and outside everything, male and female and neither all at once. It lays out the three births that we’ve already discussed, and that piece ends there. The rest is in the vault, and they’ve decided not to show it to her just yet.
She tells them that she believes it is authentic and that it is actually almost identical to hers. They want to see hers before they show her more of theirs, and she asks for a couple days to deliver it to them, which Dr Seter grants. Alisa asks him to delay the east coast part of his tour so he can see what she has, but he doesn’t really want to do that. She promises to have proof to him before he leaves for the east coast, and will bring it to him in San Francisco, his next tour stop.
James walks her out to her car, though they’re all surprised she’s leaving so quickly, and she gives him a little bit of information and tells him that she found her “material” in Sri Nagar, in India, and that she was there because of her own dreams. He wants to know what she practices, and she says she’ll tell him if he tells her. Alisa touches his chest, and feels a soothing warmth for him and for his father; she suddenly wants James as she has not wanted a man since Ray.
Alisa drives on out to the Joshua Tree National Monument and arrives when the moon is high. She walks out into the desert though she doesn’t know exactly where Paula was that fateful night. She starts to feel light again as she walks, like that night with the nuclear explosion, and then her skin starts to glow with that same milky white radiance.
She recognises the right place in the desert immediately. When she stands on the bluff, she cries out for Suzama and begs to be shown what Suzama saw. White light pours into Alisa and she is lost to memories of the nights of wonder and terror at the feet of the tender clairvoyant.
Alisa arrived in Egypt 50 years after the death of Lord Krishna, 50 years into the dark age, the Kali Yuga. She was relieved to be out of India where Yaksha was in the midst of a bloody rampage to destroy every living vampire as part of the vow he made to Krishna, and she is, of course, not going to make another vampire because of her vow.
Suzama was one of the first people she met and was far from a high priestess, only 16 and a slave collecting water from the Nile. She’d already had many vision of Alisa’s coming, and the second Alisa looked at her, she knew her face was one that she’d never forget awake or asleep. Suzama was both saintly and sensual, beautiful and marked by acceptance of pain that transcended mortal acceptance, she made you feel kissed when she smiled, and Alisa loved her on sight as she had done no one else but Krishna.
Alisa actually gave Suzama her real name, Sita, and Suzama says she knows her and knows she has great power. Suzama knew things from inside herself, not from the outside, as if the entire world was a dream though it caused her intense pain. Alisa legit sounds in love with her, too.
When she took my hand and led me in the direction of her family, I felt I had been touched by an angel. Yet I did not know that for the next three and a half years, I would hardly ever leave her sight. Her mystical mission had not yet begun, but soon it would hit like a bolt of lightning. And I would be her thunder.
I SHIP IT SO HARD, Y’ALL.
When Alisa gets home the next morning, she’s inside the house for about three seconds before the phone rings. It is Kalika, who admits that she’s not found the baby yet, but she will find him and Alisa will help her. She also says that Alisa thinks too much and that she is not going to harm the child and Alisa should believe her because Kalika is her daughter.
Kalika saw her at the meeting the night before, saw her talking to those people. This is not good news, and Alisa knows that she has put them in danger. She hates that she loves someone who causes her so much grief, but though she is frightened by Kalika’s call, she’s grateful for it as well.
Kalika talks about how James is a handsome devil and tells Alisa that nothing is as it seems, that black can appear white when the light is blinding but white loses all luster at the faintest sign of darkness. She wants to know why Alisa trusts them but not her; Alisa calls her a cold-blooded murderer, which is fucking rich coming from Alisa.
(At one point when they talk about Seymour, Kalika says she can be merciful and that she is a mother as well, which seems kind of literal but Alisa ignores it. I suppose Mother of Darkness fills this, maybe?)
Kalika turns talk to Suzama, and tells Alisa that she doesn’t know what destroyed Suzama. Alisa claims different, because she died in a big earthquake with the Setians; Kalika points out that Alisa looked the Setians straight in the eye and did not know recognise them. Alisa knew they were evil, in the end, but too late to save Suzama and Kalika mocks her for this.
Alisa tells Kalika to come for her and when Kalika pauses before she responds, Alisa listens to the background noises and figures out Kalika is standing near a window and there is a pool far below her, a large pool with serious swimmers and little kids playing. There aren’t many big pools in Los Angeles, so it shouldn’t be hard to find her.
Kalika finally says that she does not want to harm Alisa, but if Alisa stands in her way to the child, she can’t promise that Alisa or Seymour will live. It is not a threat, she says, just an observation. Kalika says that she called to hear Alisa’s voice, which holds special meaning to her, but Alisa doesn’t believe her. Kalika won’t tell her any other reason she called, though, because it will spoil all the fun.
Kalika wants to know if there’s anything she can do for Alisa, but can’t promise to leave Dr Seter and his people alone. Alisa goes on to say that over the years, she learned only to kill when necessary, and she wants Kalika to learn that, too. Kalika agrees, but warns that Kalika’s list of who can live and who must die is much different than Alisa’s. Also, Alisa is clinging to her mayas, her illusions. The phantom Ray was one of them, as is her desire to have her child Lalita reborn. Anyone who looks through the veil of a maya cannot fathom divine will.
Before she hangs up, Kalika says that Alisa shouldn’t think too hard about what she’s said because it will only confuse her more; instead, she should have faith in her “darling daughter,” and that faith is the only thing that can save her from even more pain.
Over the breakfast Alisa makes him, she catches Seymour up on what happened. They try to come up with something substantial that she can give Dr Seter’s people so they will let her see the rest of the scripture. Seymour is terrified when he learns that Kalika called there at the house, though he doesn’t remember everything she did to him.
Alisa decides it’s time to tell Seymour some truths, one of which is her belief that Paula’s child could be the child mentioned in the scripture. Despite the fact that Seymour believes in vampires and the evil of Kalika, he refuses to believe in a reborn Christ. Really, Seymour. Really?
Alisa tells him what happened that night that Kalika killed him, and that scares him even more. At first he refuses to believe that, either, but eventually comes around. Alisa breaks down because she has finally admitted to him that she can’t let Kalika get to Paula or her son, which means Alisa will have to kill her daughter and it breaks her heart.
(Also, you’ve done a pretty shit job of stopping her so far.)
Seymour wants to know if Kalika was mentioned in the scripture, and Alisa tells him that she was, though not in the part Alisa got to read, she just overheard Dr Seter and James talking about it, and that they call her the Dark Mother. Not once has Alisa thought it might apply to someone else. Someone else who may have given birth to something dark. Someone else who has been evil.
Seymour points out that if Kalika let Alisa know so many clues about her location, she’s probably turned it into a trap. He is not nearly as relieved that Kalika has promised she won’t kill unless it is necessary. They argue over whether it is a good idea to bring Dr Seter’s people in on it, because it is truly dangerous.
Finally, they decide to track down Kalika on their own and if they find her and live, they’ll go talk to Dr Seter.
They find where they think she’s staying and find a car that smells of her in the underground parking garage. They go across the street to a high-rise office building so they can stake out Kalika’s building and when she leaves, Alisa will break in and search her condo. They get an empty office on the 36th floor.
After an hour or so, Alisa thinks she sees Kalika get her car from the valet and leave, and Alisa rushes over to her condo, and Seymour joins her, though he’s terrified. Alisa picks the lock because she doesn’t want Kalika to know she was there, but considering Alisa smelled Kalika in her car, are you sure Kalika won’t be able to smell Alisa in her condo?
Alisa finds maps, mostly of places of California along with travel guides that focus on personal accounts of those places. They have moly been New Age retreats for the last few decades.
They take the stairs instead of the elevator, at least for awhile, until someone far below enters the stairs, and then they go to the elevator. They go down into the underground garage, because that is the last place Kalika will look for them if she suspects that they’ve found her, and sure enough, they find no sign of her there.
They fly up to San Francisco to meet with Dr Seter and James, and Alisa brings newspaper clippings for proof. When they meet up, Alisa flat out tells them that she knows where the Dark Mother is and needs their help to kill her.
Well goddamn, that’s abrupt. I love it.
Alisa lays out clippings about all the things she’s done lately, the brutal murders in L.A. last December, the shootout between police and “a gang of terrorists” in L.A. which downed three helicopters and killed dozens of police; the FBI problems; the Nevada nuclear explosion; and the Eric Hawkins kidnapping and murder.
Dr Seter says that he doesn’t see what that has to do with the Dark Mother, but it’s clear he’s lying, and Alisa thinks they’ve been collecting similar clippings. Alisa goes on to tell them that the Dark Mother is vampiric in nature. Alisa knows her name. She knows where she lives. They need to strike that night.
When Alisa gives them her name, Kalika, Kali Ma, this dark age of Kali Yuga named after her, they react in a way that confirms Kalika is mentioned in Suzama’s scripture. This breaks her heart, because is there really no hope for her daughter? I love how Alisa loves her despite everything.
(I still think Alisa is being terribly one track mind on this, but at the same time, I love it. She is obsessed with her daughter, and it makes sense that she interprets what’s happening through her own lens, even though she’s seen that same thing fail her in the very recent past.)
Dr Seter asks how can they know that Alisa herself isn’t the Dark Mother, and Alisa says that sometimes she feels like she is, and if she is, that’s even more reason to heed her warning. Dr Seter and James take a moment to speak alone, but of course Alisa can hear them from the distance. This time, Dr Seter is reluctant to trust her, but James is convinced because of all the things she knows. He finally talks his father around, and they are set to attack Kalika.
Back in the commercial building across the street from the condo tower, right before the attack will begin, Alisa knows that something is very strange; Dr Seter’s people is much more than 20 people with guns, and it does not reassure her that they are better prepared than she imagined, and she puzzles over why.
This time, they are 18 stories above Kalika’s windows; Alisa is there with Seymour, Dr Seter, James, and two sharpshooters. Dr Seter and James have basically put together a highly trained commando unit, and Alisa is staggered (her word) for how they go about surrounding Kalika (who is definitely home); they are far more coordinated that the LAPD and FBI attack on Alisa and Joel.
There are two units, Alpha Top and Alpha Bottom (dirty); Alpha Top is on the roof of Kalika’s building and Alpha Bottom is on Kalika’s floor, the security guards all unconscious. There are 10 people in each unit, all dressed in black, and they have night goggles, gas grenades, and grenade launchers. Well goddamn.
Alpha Top will lower themselves onto the balconies before they attack, and the attack won’t come until everyone is in position. Better do that quick or people are going to die. They’ll probably die anyway.
Alisa points out that Kalika will hear them on the balcony; James says they’re pretty sure she’s asleep, but Seymour warns them not to count on that. Dr Seter wants to give her a chance to cooperate, and James says she’ll get every chance she deserves. Ominous there, James.
Alisa feels sick as she watches them all converge on Kalika. I’d still be more worried about them than Kalika, but I do love how Alisa loves her, despite everything. Alisa knows she will never surrender. (My guess: she won’t need to surrender.)
Alpha Top hits the balconies and confirms it over the radio; Alisa tells James that they shouldn’t be talking, should, in fact, be ready to start shooting, but he ignores her. Of course he ignores her. God forbid she know what she’s talking about or you’re trusting her on this entire thing.
The balconies are each on either side of a corner, so the two groups can’t see each other. Alisa and I both think this is a major weakness. James gives the signal for Alpha Top to head toward the door, and again ignores Alisa when she says they will get crowded when they come down the hallway.
Alisa tells him there is no point in talking to Kalika, she will never surrender, and finally James starts listening to her. He counts down the attach, but only hits one, two, and three before the screaming begins.
Kalika, hair loose over her white robe, stands on one of the balconies, the three people on that balcony now falling to their deaths. The few feet of pool water isn’t enough to absorb their falls, not at this height.
Alisa demands that James call off the attack, but he refuses and tells them ot open fire instead.
Kalika takes out the second balcony in mere seconds, breaking one woman’s neck and shooting the other two in the face. She takes one of their automatic weapons and goes for the Alpha Bottom group next. They die too, torn flesh, splattering blood, broken bones; Alisa et al can only hear this, but that is bad enough, especially as Kalika laughs.
Seymour was right. This is a trap.
James tries to call in the remaining four members of Alpha Top who are on the roof, but they refuse. Alisa grabs the radio from James and tells them to get off the roof — but they squander the last of their time arguing with each other and Kalika, her white robe soaked red, comes for them.
The sharpshooters start shooting when James slaps one of them on the head, but they can’t hit her and stop firing as soon as she takes one of the Alpha Top men as a shield. Alisa takes one of the sniper rifles and manages to get a bead on the center of Kalika’s forehead — but she makes the mistake of looking into Kalika’s eyes, Kalika mouths the word “mother,” and Alisa loses her concentration for a second. Kalika finishes the remaining fighters until all she has left is Lisa, that woman Alisa met before. Lisa backs right off the roof, but Kalika grabs her and does not let her fall.
Alisa puts down the gun and says she can’t kill Lisa, because now Kalika is holding Lisa over the edge, and Kalika pulls Lisa back in with her, out of sight.
Alisa heads over to talk to her, because of course she does. She can hear sirens coming in the distance, and it has been less than seven minutes since the start of the attack. Alisa arms herself with an automatic rifle on her way up the stairs in Kalika’s building and finds Kalika waiting in the center of her living room. The entire room is now splattered with blood.
Lisa, though, is still alive in Kalika’s arms.
Kalika tells her to put down her weapon, but Alisa refuses and tells her to show mercy, to let Lisa go. Kalika says that she can’t let Alisa shoot her because she still has a mission to perform — to protect the righteous and destroy the wicked.
Kalika cuts into Lisa’s throat and threatens to kill her the way she killed Eric, which upset Alisa so. Alisa begs her to let Lisa go, for the love of god, and Kalika asks how she can say that after looking into Kalika’s eyes, doesn’t she know that Kalika does everything for the love of god? Considering how many terrible things are done in the name of god(s) across religions (including Christianity), I would believe her.
Kalika slits Lisa’s throat completely and throws the body at Alisa hard enough to knock her over and send the gun flying. Kalika picks up her gun and asks her what suite her friends are in. When Alisa refuses to tell, she asks if Alisa knows how to swim, which she does; Kalika then asks if she knows how to fly.
Alisa: trick question, child.
Kalika drags her out to the balcony and asks if she can survive the fall, and she actually sounds concerned; Alisa tells the truth, which is that she doesn’t know. Kalika pets her hair and says that Krishna loves her, even as she holds her so tight Alisa struggles to breathe. Then Kalika throws her over the side of the balcony.
The moon is out and very bright, but there’s no time for it to fill her body and float her to safety. Alisa spreads her arms and legs wide, hoping that will help her break her fall before she hits the bottom, but she knows she’ll break something else when she does hit the bottom of the pool.
For a moment, she falls into oblivion, but it goes away fast and she wakes at the bottom of the pool. She broke the plaster and half the bones in her body.
My nose seems to have been obliterated, my face is a pancake of gross tissue. Inside my torn mouth I feel a lump of crumbled teeth. My chest feels as if ribs poke through my lungs and my shirt, pouring more blood into the pool.
Well, that is brutal and disgusting. I love it.
Alisa starts to lose consciousness again, and she knows if she does, she’ll never wake up again, not so broken under nine feet of water. She begs Krishna for one more chance, one more chance to stop Kalika, to save the child.
She finally understands that Kalika can’t be defeated by guns and bullets, but she will never understand how she can be so cruel.
Alisa can feel her supernatural body try to knit itself back together, new teeth growing from her mangled gums, her sternum growing back into place, her legs and ankles popping back into place.
She forces herself to the surface, because if she doesn’t breathe soon, her chest will explode. People scream when they see her climbing out of the pool, but a cop helps her. He wants her to sit because she might have broken bones; he also knows she was thrown off that balcony. If you know that, you know she should be dead. Look at all the other bodies in the pool.
She’s too fast and heads back to the other building; she can’t take the stairs in her condition, so she takes the elevator up to the 36th floor. The door to the suite is pulverized and there is blood everywhere. Seymour is taking care of Dr Seter and the sharpshooters are dead, their chests kicked in so hard she ruptured their hearts. Alisa’s old favourite move.
And James is missing.
But Kalika did not take him from the building; he went after Alisa right after she left.
Kalika demanded that Dr Seter tell her where the scripture is, and he did. He tried to resist, but he couldn’t. He’s worried for his sun, but James turns up them, unharmed.
Alisa hints around as to whether he saw her be thrown off the balcony and survive, but he doesn’t seem to have done so. (LIAR.) He’s calm, now, though he was rattled earlier. Alisa tells him that he has to show her the remainder of the scripture, if it is still there.
On their way down to the compound, James asks why Kalika spared Dr Seter and Seymour, but Alisa has no idea unless she thinks one of them will find the child. He wants to know if they’re being followed (Alisa says no, not at that moment) and whether Dr Seter and Seymour will be safe at Alisa’s house, and not just from Kalika, but from the government, because they are all fugitives now (Alisa says for now).
She asks if he’s adopted, and he says yes, his parents were killed in a car accident when he was sixteen. Dr Seter and his father were colleagues at Stanford and Dr Seter took him in. James called him Dad at first as a joke, but eventually became closer to him than his birth father. “Real father” he says, but fuck that.
He also admits that Dr Seter really found the scripture in Jerusalem. Alisa says that’s where she found hers, too, and that she doesn’t know if Kalika destroyed hers or not, just that she took it. Liar liar.
Someone has definitely been in the vault and some of the scripture sheets are missing and others are torn to pieces. Alisa shoos him away to keep watch so she can read what’s left. There’s a bit about the child (the one “born at the end of that time’s millennium will manifest the greatest divinity to the world. He will have the playfulness of Sri Krishna, the wisdom of Adi Shankara, and the compassion of Jesus of Nazareth. He will be these divine beings, but something more, something that humanity has never seen before”), and how “dark angels” will force him and his mother to flee to the “mirror in the sky, where shoes move without feet and the emerald circle is seen in the morning light.”
This goes on for awhile, actually, but basically, a powerful angel will save him but lose him again, a safe place will be defiled by red stars, only the innocent will see the blue light of heaven, the war between the Setians and the Old Ones never ends. As she writes the scripture, the mother of an angel burns under Setian stars and her pain is Suzama’s pain.
Another piece, torn in two, talks of Kalika: the Dark Mother, all consuming and not to be trusted. Brings the light of the red stars and a wave of red death. Scourge of the child, not its protector as she claims. She is Kali Ma and all who know her will fear her.
Alisa is confused, because the Setians were destroyed when Suzama was destroyed, in a great earthquake of ancient Egypt, and the war is over as far as Alisa is concerned. UMM. You know she can see the future. Why do you keep questioning?!
Apparently Suzama promised to wait for her and be there when she returned, but no one was there when Alisa returned.
Alisa sends James back to her house and returns to Joshua Tree, to that spot where Paula’s child was conceived and remembers Suzama.
About a month after Alisa started living with Suzama, Suzama followed her one night and saw what she did to people. They talk about it and what happened to Alisa to make her what she’d become. Suzama then tells her that she’s seen Krishna in many visions and calls Alisa a very special kind of monster to receive his grace.
Shortly after, Suzama starts to heal people, at first with innocent herbs and then with meditation and then she healed a crippled man by blessing him. People lined up outside her house from then on. She couldn’t heal everyone, because for some of them it was their karma to be ill (that’s a dangerous, fucked up belief right there), and she preferred teaching meditation and foretelling the future to healing.
She saw special meditation techniques in visions, all related to the worship of Isis, the White Goddess who shone in each soul above the head. Alisa was both her first and last student.
Eventually, Suzama’s powers reached the rulers of the land. King Namok was firmly behind the powerful priest caste, the Setians who supposedly gained divine insight from the ancient past and from beings in the sky; they worshiped angry reptilian deities and did not approve of Isis worship.
Queen Delar summoned Suzama to the Great Pyramid to decipher a dream; Alisa went with her. So … the belief here is that they lived inside the pyramids? Because that’s what it sounds like you’re saying, Pike. (Egypt also had more wealth then than it had in the supposed golden ages of latter years; even the floor is made of gold.)
Both the king and queen are there, along with Ory, the king’s advisor. Ory watches Alisa as if he’s seen her before or someone has told him to look for her, and she wonders if the Setian initiates, dreaded and with eyes like snakes, have noticed her nocturnal ways.
Suzama introduces Alisa to Queen Delar as an Aryan, which is why she’s so much lighter than everyone else, and Suzama’s friend and confidante. (Lover.)
Queen Delar says that if they can decipher her dream, their reward will be great; Suzama asks if she had it at the last full moon, and Queen Delar is impressed by this before she even starts deciphering the dream. (Dreams under the full moon are auspicious.)
Queen Delar dreamt that she stood in a wide field at night but the sky was bright with more stars than they can normally see and many of them were blue. There was a great ship in the distance and — you know what, we’ve seen Alisa have this dream numerous times, no need to repeat it here.
Suzama hears her out and then asks Alisa, in an aside, whether she’s had dreams like that, too. Alisa tells her the man was Krishna and he often taught in riddles because he was mischievous. Suzama then tells the queen that the lord himself came to give the queen instructions before she was born into this world, about how to follow the laws of life, how to be fair. He did this by pointing his finger, because when you point your finger at someone, often in judgment, three fingers point back at yourself, so she must be very careful with her judgments. If she decides fairly, she gains three times the merit, but if she judges poorly, she gets three times the debt, and that is the law of life, whether one is a queen or a slave. Good comes back threefold, harm comes back threefold.
Queen Delar: impressed.
King Namok: unsure.
Alisa does not head straight back to her home in L.A., but she does call to make sure they’re safe. Alisa promises to be home soon, but instead returns to Mrs Hawkins’ house; Eric’s mother, he of the murder by Kalika last book.
Alisa smells illness in the house and she has come to ask why Eric took a year off from college when he was trying hard to become a doctor. Eric, you see, had lymphoma, and he had less than three months to live. Alisa is stunned, because Kalika had implied that an illness was one of the reasons she killed him so he would have a better birth in his next life. Also, Mrs Hawkins has not heard of anyone finding the bodies of two dead cops around the same time as finding Eric’s body.
Alisa is starting to wonder if she’s worrying about all the wrong things, because it seems like Kalika really may have been telling her the truth.
Alisa thinks back on that conversation with an old homeless man the night she got Yaksha’s blood from the ice cream truck so she could become a vampire again. (Sometimes I look at the things I summarise and I cannot believe this series exists at all. It is ridiculous and kind of wonderful at the same time.)
Alisa goes looking for the man again and finds him sitting near the spot where the truck was parked. The truck is gone, but the man remains unchanged. He’s even drinking a carton of milk just like last time. He’s been waiting for her. He asks her to play a game of 21 with him. She introduces herself as Sita and he is Mike. He is from lots of places, and his tone is bittersweet. She says she’s from India, and she’s telling this man a lot of truths tonight.
Alisa bets $300 cash and she asks him to bet a few friendly hints. Though she plays by the book, and the published rules say she should win about half the hands, he wins all the rounds up to the ninth. On the ninth, he deals her a natural blackjack. He offers her back a $20, the amount she bet on that round, and she tells him he was to give her a tip. He says that she won, fate favoured her, she didn’t have to do anything. When a winning hand is coming around, it’s coming around no matter what.
He says that if they were in a casino and he had a shoe, he could deal as many as six decks without shuffling, and then she knows: Lake Tahoe was called the mirror in the sky by the original Native American tribe who lived in the area, there is a small cove in the lake called Emerald Bay, and there are casinos nearby that have special shoes for playing 21, shoes that move without feet.
And Kalika had a book on Lake Tahoe.
She hugs Mike good-bye and feels like she’s hugging a family member, but eventually she has to go, no matter how painful it is to leave him. She asks him to be there for her again, and he says he will see what he can do.
Back in Egypt, Queen Delar became one of Suzama’s students and was privately initiated into the Isis worship. Six months later, King Namok dies and Queen Delar goes public about her spiritual path using Isis techniques. She opens Suzama’s teaching to anyone who wants to learn it, but knew better than to make it a state order because Suzama would not teach the unwilling.
Suzama advises the queen not to banish the Setians, which even Alisa doubts, but Suzama feels so strongly about freedom that she would protect even an evil group. Alisa is certain she doesn’t know how many assassins Ory sent to dispose of them; Alisa killed every single one. She never drank their blood, though, because even the smell of it filled her with bad feelings. She starts to pay more attention to their rumoured contacts with that ancient reptilian race which they achieved through a mind meld process that used identical twins as catalysts oh my god what is even happening right now?! Alisa knows the Setians get there power from somewhere else, maybe even that reptilian race that had moved on to other words circling other suns. God, I can’t wait to recap a certain book later this year, because this is giving me those vibes.
The Setians easily subdued weaker wills with the strength of their eyes and they manage to turn the masses on Suzama far too often. Suzama manages to shield Queen Delar from Ory and his cult, though. Alisa thinks of Ory as a snake, but a very different snake from Yaksha, who loved Krishna above all things, and believes the Setians’ influence over wills is different than hers; their influence sowed seeds of consciousness that did not belong.
Alisa meets Ory alone in the desert, knowing that he’s going to try to kill her as surely as she plans to kill him. She tells Suzama of her plans and interrupts Suzama’s writing to do so. GEE WONDER WHAT SHE WAS WRITING. Suzama tells her that killing Ory is not her will and that she should cancel the meeting. Even believing all the things Suzama has seen, Alisa refuses to listen, even when Suzama warns her that Ory has changed, too, he is a real Setian just as Alisa is no longer human.
The stars above are arranged as they were the night Alisa was made a vampire, and this night, like that one, will be a time of transformation for her.
Suzama promises to wait for her, to be there when she returns.
Ory wants to meet her at the Bowl of Flies, a place 20 miles from the city, deep in the desert, where during the spring, flies would be so thick in the spot it was hard to breathe without inhaling them (I just got a little choked up, that’s so gross), but at night they vanished completely; also, animals frequently dropped dead there.
Ory appears on a camel without her hearing him coming. She also came on a camel, but send her beast away because she can easily run 20 miles in the desert, and she wants to carry Ory’s head with her on the way home.
They talk about spiritual power and many kingdoms for them to rule and how he can grant her safe passage if she joins him, because he’s watched her closely and he knows she is one of them.
Ory proclaims that he will not share the world with another, not her and not Suzama, and she can either join them and swear a sacred vow or die. She tells him to draw his sword and fight her, but instead he invokes power; he changes the night sky, making fresh constellations lay over the old ones, brilliant red stars that pulse like hearts. He melts her sword with the flash of life and burns her hand black. The Setians control the elements; he’s burned her with fire and kicks, hard, to show her earth. He’s stronger than she is and the sand cracks on both sides as he sends an earthquake around her.
He tells her that he knows how quickly her wounds can heal, but even she can’t heal around a poisoned dagger shoved somewhere in her barren womb. Really? Barren womb? You’ve got to use that to hurt her, too? Good lord.
As he leaves, he tells her that he will bury the Temple of Isis in another earthquake and her precious Suzama along with it. Alisa swears it is not over and she will see him again someday.
She lies dying under the flies and the sun and she prays to die and curses Krishna. At the sun’s highest point, it is red, and the earthquake comes. It frees her from the frozen sand, but the ground moves like an ocean so she can’t stand up.
When she makes it out of the Bowl of Flies, the desert is perfectly flat and she does not recognise it, but still manages to make it back to the city. Somehow, Ory either lost control of his element or Suzama seized control at the last minute, because the pyramid and all the other temples are gone, along with most of the people. Alisa searched for Suzama, but never found her, and left Egypt shortly after.
Alisa, Seymour, James, and Dr Seter fly to San Francisco and then drive to Lake Tahoe, but not before she steals two shotguns and several rounds of ammunition. Really? Shotguns? Interesting choice.
Dr Seter is not looking good, and Alisa wonders if he had a mild heart attack the previous night.
Alisa refuses to tell them any information about Mike even though James presses a little for his name. Alisa pushes the Lexus sports coupe to its limit, but she can still smell Kalika when they come over the rim of the mountain and see the lake. Alisa doesn’t think she beat them, though, but that she’s following them through some psychic tracking.
Alisa does know that she may be endangering the child the most by trying to find it to protect it and yet she keeps going. If she can smell Kalika, Kalika can see them and follow them, but Alisa can’t trust her theories, all she knows is that if she can find Paula and the child, she can take them someplace safe. Really? Where? How? You’ve not had much success over the past few books in general, much less against Kalika herself.
Alisa follows her sense of smell to a house and reaches it in 30 seconds, but Kalika clocked which way her nose turned and beat her to it. Paula stands staring out a window at the bay, and Kalika has already taken the child onto a small boat heading away from them.
Alisa runs along the edge of the bay leaping up sides of sheer stone. She beats Kalika to the isthmus by seconds; Kalika is dressed in a long white coat and the baby is wrapped in a white blanket. Kalika is not surprised as Alisa shoots out the bow of her boat.
Still, Alisa does not take the shot when Kalika presents her with her back as she turns and heads for the miniature island at the center of the bay. She takes the baby up to a small abandoned house at the top of the island, and Alisa swims across the lake in less than a minute.
She reloads the shotgun and hopes that it will fire. If not, she will die.
Alisa tells Kalika to set the baby down, but Kalika says the floor is cold and he might get sick. She tells Alisa that she thinks Paula named him John, and that’s what she’s been calling him. She then bewilders Alisa by talking about Mike.
Kalika warns Alisa that they won’t be alone for long and Alisa tries to talk and threaten her into putting down the baby — right up until James puts a blade at Alisa’s throat. Alisa promises she’s not going to shoot the baby, but he still wants the gun and he calls her Sita.
They have met before, he says, but she does not remember him; Kalika stands and says that Alisa remembers.
He threatens to shoot Kalika if she doesn’t put down the child, but that doesn’t bother her; what convinces her to act is him threatening to slit Alisa’s throat and make her watch her mother die.
Kalika does turn to set down the baby, but at the last second tries to run; James is just as fast, though, and shoots her in the lower back. Alisa tries to stop him from taking another shot even though he still has that knife at her throat, but he’s ready and he slits her throat and she can do nothing to stop him from shooting Kalika in the back right behind her heart. He shoots her a third time in the shoulder but manages to continue to protect the child.
Alisa finally recognises the knife as Ory’s knife and feels the poison that is Ory’s poison and recognises Ory’s voice when James speaks again.
Holy shit, will anyone from her past not show up to try to kill her? Good lord.
Kalika finally hands over the child when he says if she does not, the child will have no more chances. He starts to walk away and then shoots Kalika in the heart, twice, making her chest literally explode. Goddamn.
James monologues at Alisa a little, about how he’s never left, just tried different forms, which is a small trick for a Setian. It’s a pity Kalika destroyed all his new apprentices, but there will be more. He tells her she doesn’t want to know what he’ll do to the child now that she’s led him to the baby, stabs her in the middle of her back, and leaves the blade inside. She’s too weak to pull it out, to even find it.
He walks away and the baby finally begins to cry.
(I fully expected that to be the cliffhanger book ending and was all set to talk about how, for all I joke about Stine and his Needlessly Dramatic Cliffhanger Chapter Endings, Pike is nearly as bad, but nope! Not the end of the book.)
Alisa floats in “a place of pain and judgment where [her] soul floats above the boiling cauldron [she is] sure is waiting for [her] on the other side.”
Then she tastes something like blood on her lips, something so sweet and potent it is like nothing she’s ever encountered before. She drinks and drinks and finally wakes to Kalika feeding her blood. For a moment, Alisa hopes that means she’s healed, but Kalika’s wounds have not changed at all. There is only enough blood and healing for one of them, and Kalika gives it to Alisa.
She tells Alisa that she is the only hope, removes the knife, opens and vein, and forces Alisa to feed so that it kills the poison still inside her.
Kalika is dying (DUDE AFTER TWO CHEST SHOTS PLUS ALL THE OTHER SHOTS, SHE’S FUCKING DEAD ALREADY IF SHE’S GOING TO DIE), and Alisa cannot bear this death. Kalika came into the world to protect the child from the Setians, she confirms, but she says she also came to be Alisa’s daughter.
Alisa confirms that she never hurt the police and only killed Eric because his suffering would have been so much worse with his illness. Alisa wants to know why she didn’t tell her, and Kalika says Alisa only hears what she wishes. She is more human than she knows, but that is her greatest strength because Krishna loves all humanity as his children.
The baby is, like Kalika, the essence of all things and a name, a title, cannot describe him. Alisa will help the child, because that is what she was born to do. Alisa sobs as she finally recognises that Kalika never lied to her; Kalika said she did, once, when she said she would not let Alisa stand between her and the child, because she could never hurt her. UGH this is actually pretty heartbreaking.
Alisa wants to know how to stop Ory, and Kalika confirms that her weapons, strength, and cunning can’t do it, only faith is stronger than stone. She’s quoting Suzama’s scripture, and it’s true that Suzama wrote parts, but parts Ory added to make it look like Suzama’s writing, the parts about her. Kalika says she cannot believe everything she reads, which is true to this day.
Kalika, with the last of her strength, tells Kalika that words can’t inspired faith, only love can destroy the maya, can see through the illusion. Alisa is no illusion to her, and Kalika is really her daughter. Her last words are I love you, the first time she’s ever said that to Alisa, and returns to the abyss from which she came.
Back at Paula’s house, Dr Seter is dying, too, from a major heart attack she assumes was brought on by James’ revelations. Dr Seter weeps for his foolishness and arrogance and knows now that James led him to the scripture. She promises to get the child back, which comforts him, and he dies in peace.
Paula turns up behind Alisa wearing a blue scarf with gold threads running through it in a wonderful design that Alisa does not take the time to pay much attention to, calling her Sita. (I didn’t describe it earlier, but it matches a cloth Suzama wore that last night.
She’s come to tell Alisa that Seymour has been shot and is also dying. Alisa asks Paula to fetch her daughter’s body as Alisa goes to help Seymour. The only way she can save him now is to grant him his wish and make him a vampire; she does it out of love for him and she knows that Krishna will forgive her.
If she can find the child again and give him the chance to grow old enough to understand her, she will ask him to take away her vow. Oh, Sita.
As she gives Seymour her blood, she tells him that just because he’s a vampire doesn’t mean they’ll automatically have sex, they have to date first.
Alisa returns to that spot where the child was conceived, carrying the dagger that James used on her. She knows James will not simply murder the child because divine blood is as important to a demon as it is a saint. He will have to bring the child to that spot, and she will wait for him.
The sun sets. The stars come out. The moon has not risen, but Alisa prays to the stars for help and then, in a flash, recognises the scarf Paula wore last night as the same as the scarf Suzama wore the night Alisa faced Ory.
The stars above her start to grow bright and she is in the vision that Paul described to her once. Alisa screams in blissful terror and finds herself floating high above the desert in a glistening blue body with none of the burdens of the physical realm.
Red light starts to descend, reminding her who she is and she can see James with the baby far below. The red energy starts to look like a flying saucer, and Alisa has a choice: she can enter the saucer in her blue body and stop the Setians or she can float and be happy. Of course, if she goes into the ship, she has to go into a demon, and her very soul could be trapped.
The thought of Kalika’s sacrifice makes up her mind and she floats into the ship, a ship of serpents. She sinks into the body of the largest, a true Setian, a genuine demon. He has been sent to bring back the human avatar so they can consume the child’s energy. His name is Croka.
Being in Croka’s mind is as painful as watching Kalika die, but she refuses to let Kalika’s sacrifice be in vain. The ship lands, James offers the Setians the child, the Setians poke at John for awhile, but still he doesn’t cry out.
When Alisa makes Croka’s body look into John’s eyes, he realises she is inside him and rises up, but she’s already protected by the armour of the avatar. Alisa stabs Croka’s blade into James’ left eye, and then suddenly she’s back in her own vampiric body and she’s alone with James and the child — the Setians are gone, but she’s stabbed his knife into his eye and quickly takes out the other one, too. In his pain, he drops the child, and Alisa catches John before he hits the ground.
Alisa taunts him a little and then stabs him behind his heart just where he shot Kalika. He tells her she doesn’t know what that moment means to the galaxy and she can’t interfere; she mocks him because his lizard friends don’t have a physical body, they have to work through agents like him, and he can’t do anything for them as he is.
He begs her not to kill him because he has not completed his mission and he will not be allowed to transfer into another body. This begging, this screaming, that is the divine sweetness of total revenge.
He says he doesn’t want to die and we get a glimpse of old Alisa (…you know, from months ago before she had the magically growing baby and turned into moonlight and became a lizard demon, etc.) when she tells him he should not have been born.
She slits his throat, there’s a flash of red light as the Setians leave in a hurry, and Alisa laughs as she carries John back to the road.
She thinks he likes her, and that he’s so cute.
So that kid is totally evil, right?
Now that I’ve finished this book, I know I’ve either really never read it before or so perfectly blocked it out that I might as well have never read it, because all of that came from nowhere for me. Good god. Lizard demons and alternate planes of being and another enemy from the past and and and and and — this series has gone waaaaaaaaay past weird. I don’t even have the words to describe how strange and ridiculous and wonderful it is now.
I continue to love Alisa to no end, and, I mean — what the fuck am I even reading at this point? God, I cannot wait for next month.