Summary: Believing that she and her partner, Ray, are the last remaining vampires, five-thousand-year-old Alisa is stunned when she learns about a series of brutal murders in the United States that can only be the work of their own kind.
Tagline: The wave of death spread like a plague…
I know I’ve read this one before, but I have no memory of what happens. Apparently, my memory, like the last book, ends in that cliffhanger of whether Alisa will live or die. I mean, I’m assuming she lives, considering there’s still a number of books to go, but I suppose Ray could be the new last vampire. But I doubt it.
Reminder: Last book ended with Sita: breaking her vow to Krishna and making another vampire; blowing up Yaksha, her creator; accidentally getting impaled by a piece of wood; and potentially dying in true peace because she realises she didn’t actually break her vow to Krishna.
ALISA I’M BETTER THAN ALL Y’ALL PERNE ROUND TWO.
Let’s do this.
Well, that cliffhanger from book one was resolved quickly (though I suppose not if you were reading these as they were published): Sita is alive and walking the “dark and dangerous streets of L.A. gangland.” Welp, here we go. I’m sure there will be no classism and racism in here, nope.
Requisite bit about how strong and powerful and unafraid she is (I tease about all this, but I love Alisa), and how she’s 5000 years old and one of the last of two vampires. So this entire book series needs a new title, then.
Except she’s no longer sure there are only two of them left, because there’s been a string of brutal murders that make her think vampires may be involved; the victims have been ripped open, decapitated, and sometimes drained of blood, which is what brought her to L.A., hunting monsters under a full moon. UMM YES WHERE IS MY AU FIC OF ALISA THE VAMPIRE SLAYER AND/OR WEREWOLVES AND/OR SOME COMBINATION OF BOTH.
Three men threaten Alisa, and she stays to fight them, even though she’s after bigger game, because she doesn’t like to run from any fight, even one that is basically a gnat’s worth of trouble for her, and she’s thirsty.
That one I’ll give her.
There’s some blustering from the guys and manipulation from her and a bit about how they can prowl the streets because it is a jungle and they are predators and only the strong survive. I could get into a discussion here about how we’re supposed to have moved beyond that but clearly have not, but I’m tired, so I’ll leave it at that. We’re supposed to have evolved emotionally and culturally and yet, beneath it all, some of us are predators and they make others prey.
Alisa is still wounded from that stake that impaled her the night Yaksha died. The wound won’t heal, and she’s been in pain for the entire six weeks. Sometimes it is bad enough it makes her sick. This makes her wonder if she truly had Krishna’s love when she turned Ray into a vampire. Are we going to go back and forth on this for the rest of the series? Because it was interesting in one book, but it’s already getting old, fast.
She ends up not killing Paul, the leader of the guys, and not feeding, either, because she’s distracted from her pain by the sound of another vampire nearby. She chases after them across the rooftops and finally catches a glimpse of him: he’s a heavily muscled African-American young man. Alisa takes a moment to explain that vampire strength doesn’t come from muscles, but from the purity of the blood (ummm, are you sure you want to go down that path AGAIN, Pike, what with your whole blonde haired, blue eyed white girl being the monstrous hero of India), the intensity of the soul, and the length of their life.
(We also learn that vampires smell a little like snake venom and it is intoxicating to mortals. But — why? Not why would vampires have an intoxicating scent, that makes sense for the predators they are, but why snake venom? That doesn’t sound intoxicating at all as a scent.)
(I suppose they could smell like freesia.)
The vampire knows Alisa is following him, but he doesn’t turn back to attack her, he keeps running, and she can tell he’s afraid. Her pain has faded, but she’s thirsty still and anxious for the hunt. Vampire blood can be a rare special treat to other vampires.
She clocks an ice cream truck nearby, and points out it is weird to hear it in the middle of the night. Probably could have figured that out without you flat telling me, Stine, but it does fit Alisa’s cockiness.
(Ray is having a hard time adjusting to vampiredom, and he won’t feed unless Alisa is there to make him.)
Alisa follows him to the Coliseum (where the 1984 Olympics were held), and though she does wonder exactly how many vampires might be inside (she can handle five or six, but not a dozen or more), she rushes in headlong, because she’s ALISA GODDAMN PERNE and she knows nothing else. (I LOVE HER.)
Inside the Coliseum, she’s hunted by four vampires who try to surround her. She goes out onto the field and lets them come for her. She wants the time to see if they’re armed, because a bullet to the brain or a knife to the heart might kill her even though the stake did not.
The leader is a white guy who was turned in his thirties, and he sets the other three on her while he holds back. She arms herself with a javelin, sad that she let her knife go with that guy earlier (hasty, hasty, Alisa), and tells them she just wants to talk. The younger three don’t seem to be armed, but the leader has a knife and he carries it like he knows how to use it.
Alisa kills the one she followed, launching the javelin into his heart, rupturing it. He dies, but as he does, the leader throws the blade at Alisa. She has deeply underestimated his skill, and though she manages to avoid having it hit her heart, she does end up with the knife buried in her right shoulder up to the hilt.
Only when she tries to pull it out does she realise it’s her knife. He took the time to watch her earlier and fetch her knife. She’s not sure she can take on all three of the others as wounded as she is, both the new knife wound and the old one that just won’t heal.
She manages to kill one by throwing the knife into his head, but she’s too weak to doge and his dead body falls on top of her. She nearly passes out, but manages to escape just in time to stop the third one from stomping her face. She breaks his leg with one kick and then demands he tell her who his leader is. He won’t answer, and she breaks his neck. The leader keeps coming for her as she retrieves her knife and flings it as his heart. She knows she will not miss.
And kind of she doesn’t. Her aim is true. But he catches the knife in midair, by the handle, which is something Alisa herself can’t do.
There’s … there’s something ALISA I’M GODDAMN BETTER THAN YOU PERNE can’t do? I don’t believe it!
She realises he has the power of Yaksha, and she runs.
Alisa expects to die with every step, and is terrified, because she does cherish her life above all things (even Ray?), and she’s worried that if she dies before this vampire does, he will do very bad things to the world.
He doesn’t cut her down, but he does chase her, and she swears he will not drink her blood the way he wants.
She can’t outrun him, but she hopes she doesn’t have to. All of the vampires, including Alisa, were cocky enough to leave the security guard’s revolver on his body. It is her last hope.
He figures out her plan right before she gets the gun, and he throws the knife at her again. She leaps, trying to dodge it, but he’s seen that coming and the knife hits her anyway, near her belly button.
She shoots him at least five times, but he stays on his feet despite it. They stare at each other a moment, both of them bleeding out, and then he leaves her where she is. She writhes for awhile, but after about twenty minutes, she knows she will survive. Before the stake, though, her wounds would have healed in two minutes.
The vampires are gone, but she can hear police coming. She cleans up as best she can, takes a quick moment to crack open the skulls of the three vampires, just in case they, too, managed to survive, and makes it out to the parking lot before a cruiser pulls up on her. She spins a story about looking for her car and being chased by boys who threw water balloons at her, and she uses her gaze to make her story believable to him.
The FBI agent in charge, Joel Drake, doesn’t believe her, though. He’s very handsome, and he makes her feel like she’s an actor in a tv series. She doesn’t want to break his will, but she can’t let him take her in for questioning, so she walks a fine line of making him believe her without tearing apart his brain. I like this quite a bit.
She doesn’t take him to her real car, of course, because even following her suggestions, he still has quite a bit of his will showing through, and she knows he’d use her license plate to track her. Instead, she has him park near a car she claims is hers and casually breaks into it by flat out tearing the door open and breaking the ignition switch with two fingers before hotwiring it.
You guys, I love the hell out of ALISA I CAN DO ANYTHING PERNE.
Once she’s free of the FBI, she gets her own car, goes to the airport, and flies in her fucking personal Learjet back to Oregon. Goddamn it, Alisa, have some concern for the environment, would you. You, of all people, have seen what we’re doing to the world.
She and Ray have a new mansion near the old one, with all sorts of great things, including heavy drapes to block out the sun, because Ray is the most sun-sensitive vampire she’s ever known.
Ray is not adjusting well, as we learned earlier. He misses his old life, including his school friends and his girlfriend, but especially his father. All Alisa can give him is her love, and she thought that would be enough.
Perhaps it is not.
She finds him sitting on Pat McQueen’s porch. Pat is, of course, Ray’s old girlfriend, who was pretty great what little we saw of her in book one, and really deserved better than having her boyfriend seduced by a woman around 5000 years his elder.
(God, vampire relationships are weird if you think about them too much. Or for a half an eye to the ages.)
He’s grieving, and he’s short with her, and I can’t blame him one single bit. My heart aches for him, and, honestly, for Alisa, too, who forsook all the promises she made to Krishna in order to save Ray’s life, though this is not the life he wants. It’s all such a painful mess.
They talk about whether there are vampires on other planets, and Ray says that if there was a planet of only vampires, it would not survive long, because all they do is destroy each other. Harsh, Ray. (But true.)
Alisa (who he calls Sita) takes him to the spot in the woods where she buried his father. She gives him space to feel his emotions, mostly because she’s too weak to deal with them, or maybe too guilty. She’s not sure which.
Instead, she thinks about the dream she had while she was unconscious after the stake. She and Ray were in a starship flying to the Pleiades star cluster (the Seven Sisters), and they were filled with excitement throughout the long trip. (Pike. Is this going to get even weirder than the first book? I think it will.) They’re excited because they’re going home to where they belonged; on that planet, they weren’t vampires but angels of light who lived on the radiance of the stars.
YUP. I WAS RIGHT. IT GETS WEIRD.
Once they head home, Alisa wants to rest, but knows she can’t, not until she has a plan to deal with the “black plague” spreading down in L.A. She knows that vampire will make more vampires to replace the ones she killed, and they will make their own, and on and on. UMM. Considering what a process it was for you to make Ray, I’m not sure most of them will be patient enough for it, but he certainly will be.
Alisa gives Ray one drink of her blood, which drains her even more, but still she doesn’t sleep. Instead, she goes to see Seymour Dorsten. HEY SEYMOUR. Seymour is the teenager she cured of AIDS by giving him a few drops of her blood.
He’s also her personal biographer and they have a psychic bond, so he writes her story.
(God, Pike is weird, and I love it.)
She tells him everything, and they try to figure out where the vampire came from and what he’s doing. Seymour points out that to be as strong as he is, he could only have come from Yaksha. She points out that not only is he dead, but he spent 5000 years destroying all the vampires he had previous made (and all the ones they made) because of his vow to Krishna.
Seymour gets a little sarcastic then and asks if they should consider whether another yakshini was accidentally invoked into the corpse of a pregnant woman which is a pretty shitty thing to bring up to her, even all these thousands of years later.
They pick at each other in a kind of adorable ways, but then settle down to try to solve the paradox: Yaksha would not have turned him, but he is the only one who could have done so.
Seymour can’t answer that for her, but he does know where to start looking: at her old house, where she blew up Yaksha — if she can find his remains, maybe she can learn where this new vampire came from. This explanation had better be good.
They talk a little more about how terrible this situation is, and Seymour tells her that he has such strong confidence in her because she saved him when he was as good as dead, and she’s the hero of his story.
Alisa spends some time trying to figure out how to foster a contact with the local police so she can get to Yaksha’s remains if any were recovered. She knows she has to go through the proper channels to get them. But why? You have so many resources and such strength, why can’t you just go fetch them? You can burn this identity and move on after.
As she’s trying to figure this out, that FBI agent, Joel, calls her. She decides to take this as a sign from Krishna, though she also claims she still doesn’t believe in signs. She tempts him to come to her in Portland by promising him a strong lead on who killed those people last night and admits that she failed to bring up some things when they talked. She also gives him details of the three vampires who were killed (well, he believes them to be men), and promises him that he can be a big hero.
He says he doesn’t want to be a hero, he just wants to stop the killings. And that is how she finally gets him to come to Portland.
She takes 90 minutes to rest with Ray before she leaves for Portland, because even Alisa can’t go forever, at least not wounded. But she picks Joel up right on time, and drives him toward her home. They listen to a tape of her playing the piano for awhile, and she actually admits that it is her.
She gives him little pieces of information and tells him that she needs him to get the remains of the man she believes is tied to the killer. She also considers seducing him, as long as Ray doesn’t know about it. She’s had 10k lovers, and she doesn’t share illusions of fidelity. Considering he hooked up with you while he had a girlfriend, not sure he feels much fidelity anyway.
Even with all this, she realises that he knows too much about her already and will only learn more; she is going to have to kill him.
He tells her about his past, why he became an FBI agent (inspired by watching a tv show), how he was in white collar for awhile, but solved his landlady’s murder and got put into criminal work.
During their conversation, she manages to convince him to do what she wants, mostly without using her vampire powers on him. Though now that she’s decided to kill him, I’m not sure why she’s so reluctant to break his will.
Anyway, we learn that they recovered a body from her old house, not just pieces of flesh, and she’s surprised and wants to know how his form survived the blast. The body was sent to a morgue in Seaside, where she fought the people Yaksha sent after her that one time. Joel gets her in there, too, but the body is missing.
TITLE DROP! “Seymour can have all the confidence in the world in me, but I will not be able to stop my creator if he is bent on spreading our black blood.”
The coroner tells them they think the body was stolen, but they don’t have a ton of information. (And Alisa tells us that she hates morticians and coroners and doesn’t understand how they can work with corpses all day, despite, you know, her not only being a vampire but making corpses pretty regularly.)
When Alisa implies that the body maybe wasn’t all the way dead, the coroner assures her that the body was dead. Both his legs were blown off and he was in the freezer the entire time. A freezer, you say. You know what else has a freezer? An ice cream truck. What else was randomly hanging out in L.A. last night? AN ICE CREAM TRUCK. I’VE BROKEN THIS CASE WIDE OPEN.
(I still don’t remember anything about reading this book, and I might have missed this little bit had Pike not flat out pointed it out to the readers.)
They do have a suspect, though, a former employee, Eddie Fender, who disappeared the same time as the body and took off without collecting his paycheck. Joel and the coroner go check his files for the job application and other paperwork, leaving Alisa, who is now posing as an agent, in the morgue.
She easily finds the freezer locker where Yaksha was held, because his venom smell lingers, but it is different than he smelled six weeks or 5000 years ago; his blood smells polluted. This makes her feel even worse about the entire situation.
Alisa takes the time to talk to the secretary, Sally, who tells her that Eddie was in love with Yaksha’s corpse, and that she would have rather shot herself in the head than had sex with Eddie. Sally goes on to tell her about Eddie flirting with a temp they hired, who actually went on a date with him. He took her to McDonalds for dinner, ate only plain hamburgers (meat + bun), and took her walking in a cemetery, where he was all giddy and wanted to make out on top of a grave. She was actually pretty charmed by all of this, but then he pulled out snuff films when he took her back to his apartment. That was a deal breaker. I mean, of course it was.
When she tried to leave, he tied her up in his bedroom closet while she wore his high school jacket and nothing else, and he made her suck on Popsicles all night. He would tickle her if she stopped.
Now, while I’m totally down for there not to be rape in this story, this is still sexual assault, but it is also strangely lighthearted sexual assault. Like we’re supposed to laugh at it despite it being, you know, fucking assault.
The temp not only didn’t turn him in for the snuff films or the assault, but wanted to go out with him again. Oh my god, woman. OH. MY. GOD. And then Sally tells her that Eddie might have killed her cat. WE GET IT. HE’S TERRIBLE.
Anyway, apparently Eddie was always fooling with Yaksha’s body, and Alisa wonders if he was also messing with Yaksha’s blood.
OH LOOK AT THAT, SURPRISE VAMPIRE IS EDDIE.
Alisa takes Joel to Water Cove Pier, where Yaksha sent those people to fetch her that one time in book one. (I do like the callbacks to the last book. Continuity, what? I don’t know what to do with that!)
(Alisa used to drink shark blood sometimes. Goddamn, Alisa Perne, I love you.)
She’s taken Joel there because she doesn’t want to kill him, she wants to talk him into being quiet. But to convince him to keep his mouth shut, she has to tell him more, which means she has even more reasons to kill him.
Joel flat out asks if she comes to Seaside often, because there were violent murders there right around the time her house blew up. Goddamn, Joel is on top of shit. Considering how the police work in most of the books we recap here, I’m even more impressed.
She admits she was there, and says that her friend sent those people to kill her. She also tells him that Eddie is their man and she needs to take care of him, not Joel, because he doesn’t know what he’s up against. She even gives him her real name, Sita, which she only gives to those who she cares about. Well, that was damn fast.
She tries hard to scare him into going home and never talking about her, leaving Eddie to her, because they are similar and she can end his cruelty, which unlike hers, is not tempered by any kindness.
Ray insists on joining Alisa in L.A., because of course he does. He thinks of vampires as all evil, and his horror hurts her, though she doesn’t disagree. She takes him with her, but makes him feed as soon as they arrive in L.A.
(But of course, Alisa makes a Count Dracula reference and then says she met Vlad the Impaler, the real man Dracula was based on, because god forbid you have a vampire story where the vampire doesn’t know all sorts of famous people, as if vampires can never just live their lives.)
(There’s also a bit about how Alisa is sensitive to the “life vibration” of the people she drinks from, and a rapper once gave her a headache for a week. No, really, Pike, with everything else, maybe stay away from this kind of shit.)
Alisa and Ray fight over feeding, both in doing it at all and in how it needs to be done. Ray is really struggling, which makes sense, but is, honestly, kind of annoying to read about.
After a somewhat failed feeding (they both get blood, but Alisa accidentally kills and Ray is hurting), she takes him to the fancy house that his dad first talked about when confronting her. It’s where she keeps a stockpile of weapons, from Uzis to grenade launchers, sniper rifles to pistols.
I do love a vampire who loves weapons.
Alisa goes to talk to Eddie’s mother, and learns that he’s been drinking her blood. She also learns that the woman is a pedophile and that she likes the incestuous blood drinking that Eddie does for her.
She gets directions to where Eddie works from the mother, and then wipes her memory clean of not only Alisa’s visit, but of anything she might know about her son’s recent whereabouts, because Alisa is trying to keep Joel and the rest of the FBI off Eddie’s scent.
As she leaves, she feels a cold draft from the back rooms and the vibration of an electric motor and smells coolant. There’s a large freezer by one of the bedrooms. She almost goes back to check it, but she doesn’t want to upset the illusion she cast, and she thinks her first goal is to find Eddie.
Dear god, Alisa, for someone who is so, so smart, you are making terrible decisions. LOGIC IT OUT, WOMAN. LOGIC. IT. OUT.
Ray asks Alisa to tell him about her husband and daughter from when she was human, Rama and Lalita. She talks about how she met Rama, the son of a merchant (and Alisa talks about how her white people invented kites, not the Chinese, because of course she does, COME THE FUCK ON, PIKE), and how she fell in love with him immediately, and also how he was named after the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and Lord Rama married Goddess Sita. Meant to be, clearly.
Lalita, meanwhile, was named “she who plays,” and she was mischievous from the moment she was born and constantly kept Sita on edge.
Alisa and Ray have a long talk about reincarnation and what that means if it is true, if they are evolving toward God or if they are stuck because they’re afraid to die. Alisa has no answers for him, except that she does not fear death for herself, just for him.
Ray never dreams of blood. Alisa does, often, but lies to him that she doesn’t. Oh, Alisa.
Finally, the plot continues, and they get to the warehouse, which stinks of vampires and decaying bodies. There are at least a dozen vampires inside, and Alisa knows that the police and the FBI are seriously underestimating the crime wave.
Alisa’s plan is to burn the building down with them inside, so they have to steal a couple gasoline trucks from a nearby refinery. No big deal. The hardest part for them will be trying to get the trucks on either side of the building, because they have to cut the fence and kill the dogs silently (because of course they do) and then get the trucks in place to light them. And they have to do it after dawn, when they’re all inside and sleepy, including Eddie.
Though Alisa pretends to be confident, she is really worried. Eddie seemed shrewd when she met him, and she thinks this has all gone too easy.
Fifteen minutes after sunrise, Alisa sets out to kill the dogs. I won’t talk about it much, except to say that these are exceptional killing shots: she has to hit each one cleanly in the head by shooting between the holes in the wire. OH AND THEY ARE VAMPIRE DOGS. So.
There are twenty-one vampires inside, including Eddie. They are fleeing the sun. Ray also wants to flee the sun, but is holding strong. If he can, why can’t they?
(Also, Alisa tells Ray that vampire dogs aren’t so bad. What if he’d made vampire fish, swimming through the ocean. They’d never find them all. I am star-eyed over vampire fish and what that implies. By which I mean, VAMPIRE OCTOPUS.)
They talk about going fishing to relax after all of this is done, because they both fished with their fathers growing up (5000 years apart). This turns Alisa’s thoughts to where Yaksha’s body is being kept. I can’t imagine there’s any place with a freezer that might be hiding a vampire body. Not a single location comes to mind. Not one.
Alisa’s plan goes well, at least at first. After she parks her truck, she notices an ice cream truck parked down the block. She does not find this strange, even though it is early morning and this is an abandoned warehouse district and also this is at least the second time she’s been aware of one where it didn’t belong.
Pike tells us how smart and clever and experienced she is, but then things like this happen.
Alisa ignores it and waits for Ray to light his fuse. When he doesn’t after too long, she comes up with a plan so she can go check on him, though she doesn’t want to leave her tanker alone. She lets the gas run out of her tanker, and since her side is higher than Ray’s, the gasoline runs down ahead of her and it ties their bombs together.
There are twenty-one vampires sleeping peacefully in the warehouse, she hears, and two vampires behind the truck, one calm, the other gasping and struggling.
Immediately, Alisa realises this is Eddie’s trap, and she made the one mistake she swore she wouldn’t make: she underestimated her enemy.
And then she does it again, assuming that though he’s stronger than she is (and how is that possible?), his senses cannot possibly be as keen. Really? Because you certainly thought he couldn’t be as strong and as a fast as you, either.
Alisa leaps over the truck to attack him from above, but as she clears the truck, neither Eddie nor Ray are there. She lands badly, and that gives Eddie time to come out from the front of the truck, using Ray as a shield. Once again, he’s not only faster than she is (and she’s underestimated him), but he is anticipating her moves.
He greets her as Sita, and she thinks Yaksha must have told him about her, but also can’t believe that Yaksha would betray her to Eddie the monster. Another paradox.
They argue back and forth, trying to negotiate and control and trick each other, until finally he offers to tell her where Yaksha is if she will let him go. Right. Instead she plans to shoot him through Ray, and she will not hesitate. (I think that’s a lie, though, even if she’s certain she believes it.)
Oh, damn, she actually does shoot through Ray. Eddie doesn’t act as she expects, though; instead of continuing to use Ray as a shield, he throws Ray at her, knocking her off balance, and then attacks her before she can get off another shot. Goddamn.
He then beats the shit out of her in a hand to hand fight, after he bends the barrel of her rifle. Alisa struggles to keep Eddie busy long enough for Ray to light the tankers. As Alisa grapples Eddie, the smell of his foul breath makes her think that he doesn’t just drink his victims dry, but eats their flesh as well.
Ray punches a hole in the tanker, spilling gas and, worse, fumes, and lights a match, though despite the fumes, he doesn’t catch fire (yet). He tells Sita to run and return to fight Eddie another day, and that she will win because she has Krishna’s grace.
And then he drops the match.
She tries to get to Ray before the match hits the fuel, but even she’s not faster than gravity. Ray lights up like a human torch, and for a moment, she sees his eyes as blue, shining with the light of stars she’s never seen or can’t remember.
The truck explodes, disintegrating Ray and throwing Alisa through a wall so hard that every bone in her body breaks. Her clothes are also on fire, but she can feel nothing.
And then someone throws a sport coat over her, and she knows nothing else.
We get a dream, or a hallucination, then, of Alisa standing in a huge grass field under a hundred blazing blue stars, each in a river of nebulous clouds. Krishna is with her, and she asks when she will see him again. He tells her that when she remembers him, he is there immediately. She will forget him for a long time, though, and he tells her a story of a god with three wives. Two of them asked for great gifts. He gave one all the jewels in his ocean and the second all the coral and seashells. The third wife asked for nothing, and he gave her the salt, which she spread into the ocean and used to hide all the jewels and the coral and the seashells.
He adds that the treasures are not evil, though, and the goddesses not simply vain.
She is like the earth, he says, unique, and she will not come and go many times, from this place where they are to the earth (reincarnation, I assume), but she will stay there from the beginning of one age, when she is born, and will not leave until the next age comes. She will see him early in life, and, perhaps, one more time before she leaves earth.
Sita wants to be like him, but he is both angel and demon, both good and evil, and above all those things, too. He tells her to dive deep into the ocean and learn that the greatest treasures she finds are the illusions she leaves behind.
He plays her the seven notes of humanity, and she loses him and the light of the stars and everything. Her sorrow is immense, but she also wonders if she lost the song because she became it, became a lover who hates, a saint who sins, an angel who kills.
She wakes up in a cheap motel, from paradise to hell, no transition in between. She is, of course, with Joel, that FBI agent, and Ray is dead. Joel has been following her, and after the explosion, he started to take her to the hospital, until he saw her start to heal right in front of him. Joel confirms that Ray is dead, but that Eddie got away.
Joel calls her Sita one too many times, and she snaps that Sita died a long time ago, and Alisa is this bloody thing that she has become. Then as she prepares to leave, she tells him he can call her Sita if she wishes. He wants to help her, and he doesn’t want her to get killed. He has more to offer than a gun, and he does not want her to go alone.
Eventually, she talks him into staying, without even using her power to manipulate him, and they say good-bye.
And then Alisa goes hunting.
(God, I love her so, so damn much.)
Alisa returns to the warehouse and watches all the emergency services there, thinking. And finally FUCKING FINALLY she starts to put some things together: Eddie making that temp suck popsicles all night, the ice cream truck in the area twice, the large freezer in the Fender house … she finally thinks these things might be important.
Eddie would have had to keep Yaksha in a weakened state to control him. Alisa thinks there are only two ways to do that: one is to keep him impaled on sharp objects that he cannot heal around, and the other is to keep him cold, because vampires, much like snakes, are cold blooded and cannot handle the cold.
Alisa calls Sally (from the morgue) and confirms that Eddie and his mom used to own a small ice cream truck business in L.A.
She then calls Pat, Ray’s human girlfriend, and though things are strange and awkward between them, it is a good conversation, too. Alisa tells her a little about how Ray has existed a long time, early in Sita’s life, and now, and far in the future.
Finally, she calls Seymour to tell him what happened to Ray and to talk about what’s happening. He agrees that Yaksha is probably in the ice cream truck, but finding him will not necessarily help her much. She doubts that his legs will grow back or that he will otherwise heal fast enough to be much help.
She knows she can’t beat Eddie by force, she must outsmart him, and she needs Seymour to do that. But why? He’s a kid, barely more than an infant, if that, against her long experience. Why does she need these teenage boys to make things work for her?
Seymour’s plan (which Alisa has already thought of, so come the fuck on): get Yaksha away from Eddie, see if Yaksha has the secret of stopping Eddie, and then take Eddie’s mother hostage to make him come to her.
The ice cream truck is still near the warehouse, and getting to it is the easiest part. She can smell venom and rot and sees an aura of pain; of course Yaksha is in the ice cream truck.
She calls for him as she opens the door, and he asks what flavour she would like, which warms Alisa and made me snort. She asks for ten minutes to get him away, and he says she can take all the way up to fifteen, still teasing her. Damn, Yaksha. I don’t want to end up liking you in this book, but I think I do.
Alisa goes to pick a fight with some cops, and is surprised when they pull a gun on her, because she looks like a high school kid. I mean, white girl, yeah, but cops certainly don’t worry about pulling guns on some high school kids.
It’s the same two cops from outside the colosseum, and Alisa fucks with them some, then has one of them lie down and sleep and forget about her. The other, though, she torments for awhile, but she lets him live after she drinks from him — she is tired of killing.
Alisa takes Yaksha, or what is left of him, just a ruined torso in an oily canvas sack that is sewn to his fucking flesh, oh my god Eddie, with steel stakes driven into him everywhere, to the sea. He won’t let her remove the stakes, because he does not want her to see him as he is now.
He tells her what happened the night of the explosion. He went to the window to see the ocean because it reminds him of Krishna. He was thrown into the woods in two pieces, on fire when he landed, but he did not die. While he floated in darkness, Eddie started poking at him, asking questions, and Yaksha told him quite a bit more than he would have otherwise.
They talk about Krishna and how he gives Sita everything she wants and how love and hate are so deeply entwined. About how Krishna may have returned, but that no one recognises him.
Yaksha saw Krishna right before Krishna left the earth and Kali Yuga began (the age of vice, the last of four ages in a cycle). Krishna seemed more gentle then, more angel than god, and their past battle was forgotten, everything was fine between them. Krishna told him a story, and for all those long centuries, he did not know why, until this moment with Alisa:
A demon, Mahisha, tried to gain the favor of Lord Shiva (who is no different from Krishna because there can only be one god). Mahisha did this by meditating on Shiva and his mantra for 5000 years. (UMM. Sita, is that you?) When that didn’t work, Mahisha burned everything he had, clothes, jewels, weapons, and 50 wives. Finally, he cut his body to pieces to put it into the fire because it was all he had left. Shiva was horrified by this, and appeared just before Mahisha cut out his own heart. When he came, Mahisha asked for two boons, one that he would be unkillable and two that whoever he touched on the top of the head would be killed. Shiva tried to talk him out of it, but in the end, he granted it because he was bound by his word. He killed people, he killed gods, he caused destruction everywhere he went. Indra, the king of paradise, did his own long meditation on Krishna, and he meditated for another 5000 years before Krishna came to him. Krishna knew what was happening in heaven and on earth, but would not intervene until there had been great suffering, because that is is way and he will not (or cannot) answer why. Indra asked him to kill the unkillable Mahisha, which is an interesting problem. Because Krishna and Shiva are the same, Krishna cannot undo a boon he freely granted, but Krishna is also beyond all pairs of opposites, all paradoxes, and comes up with a plan. He appears before Mahisha as a beautiful goddess, and Mahisha immediately forgets about all others and chases her (“who was really he, if the Lord can be said to have a particular sex” WTF). Krishna teases him until Mahisha becomes like Krishna, because that is what happens when someone becomes totally fixed on one person. Mahisha started matching her dance steps, and I’m sure you can see where this is going. Slowly, the dance changes until one hand touched the head, and in that moment, Mahisha kills himself.
Yaksha cannot help her stop Eddie, because his wounds are too deep. Alisa does not understand how this story will be useful to her, until Yaksha points out that Eddie is obsessed with her blood. Alisa is somewhat broken now, because Ray is dead, and her old mentor is dying (let’s just forget about that whole trying to kill him throughout the last book, I guess), and also her god takes 5000 years to respond to a prayer. Good times in Alisa’s life, clearly.
All that time that Yaksha was trapped, he did not pray to Krishna to save him, just that Krishna would give Yaksha faith in him, until Yaksha realised he already had all that faith. Yaksha knew that Alisa would save him, and he knows that Alisa will destroy Eddie now that she has heard Krishna’s story.
Though she does not want to kill him, Alisa drinks Yaksha dry, and as she does, she vows to kill the enemy, vows it to both him and to Krishna.
God, this is so emotional. As much as I am sometimes put off by how Pike uses religion here (and his glorious white saviour), I love Alisa, and I hurt for her, and this is truly a heartbreaking, terrible time for her.
Alisa goes next to Eddie’s house. He is not there, and she does not understand why he’s left his mother wide open to be taken hostage. She still has no plan other than take his mother hostage and try to shoot him when he comes for her. She does not have faith, and she does not know what Krishna’s story meant.
She sits with the mother, and she waits, and the mother is sharp and not nearly afraid enough. When the phone rings, though, it is Joel, and she realises that he must have gone back to Eddie’s house, and Eddie, of course abducted him.
They threaten each other’s human hostage, trying to one up each other, but in the end, Alisa wins that and Eddie comes to her.
While she waits, we get another story from her past, this one a thousand years ago, when she lived in the Scottish Highlands and had a royal lover, Harold the Thane of Welson. It was cold enough there that it made her dream of Hawaiian vacations, though Hawaii had not yet been discovered. PRETTY SURE THE POLYNESIAN VOYAGERS HAD FOUND IT BY THEN, ACTUALLY.
Harold was a great artist, and a painting of Alisa hangs in the Louvre, attributed to an artist who never existed. BECAUSE OF COURSE.
Anyway, Lord Tensley was an arrogant authority figure in the area, and Alisa was the greatest object of his desire. Alisa did not like his cruelty, even though she was going through one of her reckless periods, when she did not deeply hide what she was and got the reputation of being a witch. In fact, Harold knew that she was a vampire.
Lord Tensley decides it is his duty to have her tried and burned at the stake. He sends a contingent of soldiers to fetch her, and she sends their heads back to Lord Tensley, because she is both overly dramatic and amazing.
Lord Tensley then kidnapped Harold, which is the logical next step. She knows that storming his heavily fortified castle would be hard even for her, so she tricked Lord Tensley into bringing Harold to her. Alisa tries to talk Lord Tensley into letting Harold go when they have the standoff at Harold’s castle, but she takes too long, and he stabs Harold, a dangerous wound in those days.
(Alisa thinks she invented the phrase “take a hike.” Oh my god, just when I love her most, Pike does something bullshit like that. She doesn’t have to be the most super special to ever special.)
Once Harold is free and has run, Alisa gives Lord Tensley’s son a direct order to kill his father who is really the witch, and he shoves his sword into his father’s stomach. Lord Tensley is dead before he hits the ground, half the knights run off, Alisa kills the others easily, but Harold is already dead when she reaches him. She missed him for a long time and still has never returned to Scotland.
The lesson she learned was that she cannot argue with evil men because they are too unpredictable. She expects Eddie to do something strange. But still, she does not know the moral of Krishna’s story.
They each tear open a human’s throat, and Alisa tries to talk Eddie into letting the humans go and simply fighting each other. (Well, having a gunfight with each other, I guess.) Joel is not afraid to die, and in fact, because Eddie has opened his jugular, he has about three minutes to live.
Eddie stays calm(ish), but Alisa begins to panic. After all this time, her unchanging nature seems to be changing, and she can’t stand by and watch Joel die, even if it is what is best for all of humanity.
Alisa whispers Krishna’s name and lets the mother go. She stumbles to Eddie, who promptly kills her. Good times. Alisa surrenders her gun, Joel is dropped onto the couch, unable to do anything even when Eddie allows Alisa to stop Joel’s bleeding (mostly, she thinks, to learn how it is done).
Eddie is truly obsessed with her blood, and he has exactly what he needs to bleed her dry. Even as her blood leaves her and she gets dizzy and lost, she thinks of Krishna and the story he told Yaksha, and starts to feel a duality of consciousness, the dream and the story. Her thoughts twist and turn, to the seven notes of humanity, to the song Krishna played on his flute in that long ago contest with Yaksha, when he used his music to make Yaksha feel love, hate, and fear, in that order, and it is the last emotion that defeated Yaksha, because a serpent only strikes when it senses fear.
Alisa remembers the song, and begins to whistle. Eddie ignores her as he drinks a third glass of her blood. Her fear is in her blood, and Eddie drinks her blood; her body is the instrument through which the song of life and death plays. Her song is killing Joel, but it is irritating Eddie, until he threatens to shoot her. She changes the note, then, though it is not one that Krishna played as he dueled Yaksha, it is one she knows from her dream of Krishna. This note is the sex note, intense creativity when it goes up, intense lust when it goes down. She has become the enchantress of Krishna’s story.
He kisses her, and Alisa tells him that she likes it cold, tempting him to the freezer. Once inside, in the dark, Alisa has a bit of an upper hand. She can see him, vaguely, and he cannot see her at all. Unfortunately, the cold is getting to both of them. The cold also breaks him free of her spell.
Alisa gets the ax that must be in the large freezer so that people can chop their way free in case they get locked inside. (I have no idea if that is really how things are handled, and for once I’m not going to take the time to look it up.)
Then she snarks at him about his favourite flavour (ah, Yaksha’s joke gets its moment) and cuts off his head.
She asks Joel if he wants to become like her, and he says no, even though he will die. She believes she can save Joel. She feels like it is her duty. But she doesn’t know if she loves him, and it is only in her love of Ray that she thinks she remained in Krishna’s grace even after she made him a vampire.
Alisa turns Joel anyway, and thinks that even if he hates her, even if he kills her, it is the right thing to do. “Let him carry on the story, I think. Let him be the last vampire.”
Odds of Joel actually being the last vampire? SLIM. I can’t believe we have basically the same goddamn cliffhanger book ending two books in a row. I know I complain a lot about Stine’s unnecessarily dramatic cliffhanger chapter endings, but oh. my. god. this is almost worse.
I am looking forward to Red Dice next month, though. I know I’ve read it, but I don’t remember a damn thing about it, either.