She ran, away from the bloody heap that had been her brother and the grotesque corpse of the wolfman who had killed him, towards the city centre. The sound of fighting drifted through the empty streets, the sharp ping of bullets and the screams and howls of the wounded men and…the other things. Adam had wanted to join in, would have done if the creature had not attacked him.
She slowed down then stopped in the shadow of a tenement doorway. It wasn’t just fear of the evil things that had crept into the city while she and Adam had been in hiding, but fear of whose side they were on. If the Elders had invoked them, would the resistance be strong enough to fight them off? She doubted it somehow. Adam had never been able to find out anything about this elusive resistance movement, if it even existed.
Adam. The sobbing, once it started was uncontrollable. She was cold, shivering and her whole body screamed with the ache of loss. Adam was dead. Their parents had been taken away by the Pure Ones: they had been as good as dead from the moment the street was blocked off and the sinister tread of boots rang out in the silence of the night.
She clutched the knife hard, took a deep breath and jogged down the middle of the street. She had done with hiding. If anyone, even a tiny handful of partisans, were defying the Elders, she would join them. She had nothing to lose.
She ran, gritting her teeth in determination, and turned into the boulevard that led to the main square. The noise was louder. She could pick out the voices of soldiers shouting orders and the snarling of animals. Loudest of all was the wailing and screaming of women and the jabbering of terrified men. The reek of burning hung like a pall in the air, and her heart pounded with fear. She almost turned back.
Round the last corner her eyes widened with terror that swiftly turned to amazement. Smoke curled up to the crystal dome overhead and billowed out from the door of the great temple, obscuring the fighters. But she hardly noticed the killing; her eyes were fixed on the being that soared through the filthy air on broad, immaculately white wings. He shone with a fierce light that pierced the clouds of sand beyond the dome and scattered the twisted, leaping shapes below.
An angel. In Providence. Nothing, not all the evil the Protector and the Elders could summon, would stop it now. Freedom was being born in the smoke and the spilt blood. Her eyes filled with tears and she sank to her knees in the dust, weeping for all those who would never see it.