Jonas had never been so far up in all his life. The sidewalks he was used to had no railings because it was only twenty centimetres to the street, not hectametres. He walked more carefully, one hand against the reassuring wall. The air was clearer up here, and the early morning light was almost blue after thousands of yellow and grey-green mornings below. He looked again at the address as a tungsten-yellow Phœnix Valkyrie roared past, freely sharing bullets with the DPD at close range. Jonas pulled his coat around himself, thanked the OneTrueGod for a day out of the factory, and prayed for Clara's safety.
Kriever didn’t like public trans, and insisted on driving his old Sting Ray everywhere. He glanced over to the passenger seat, where she sat with his coat still over her shoulders. “Which way, doll?” he asked. The rain had eased up, for now...
“I didn't like the way you treated Sam just now,” she said when he reached her table. “Sam was begging for it.” She was wearing something much too short, but Kriever was too busy to be impressed. “Put on a coat and take me uptown, doll,” he said.
The asthmatic death rattle of the air-scrubber was a comfortable sound, a beacon home in the crushing waves of the street. It had guided him home every night now for eight years to the same drafty building and the same putrid stairs, and the same motherless little girl at the top who made it all worthwhile. Clara was eleven and all that came with it. Her father would give his life to save hers.
“What's the word, Feng,” he asked the alien as it hovered back and forth, stirring this pot...mixing that... “I just told the blue boy I ain't seen nothing,” he mumbled. “You eating tonight?”
We pushed our way through the shattered city. All around us were the signs of a race without hope, an entire nation devoid of both love and life. "Is this what they saw at Pompeii?" I wondered. Men and women both, dead before they died.
"My friends, guests, neighbors, jokebrunts, et cetera, et cetera, I have asked you to come because Things are Happening," said the satyr.
"Now, here are my maps, all very incomplete, of course—a little hobby of mine. Folks from all over come in here, mostly gnomes, of course, but a few dwarves not too proud to duck a bit sometimes. The Father has blessed all his children, and I feel my blessing is to share in hospitality."
Were those footsteps? He hid himself behind a massive oak—greater than any he had seen in Europe. The trunk was more than five feet in diameter, and smelled musty—very musty. He could almost smell the centuries of age in the bark. But there were the footsteps again! This time he was sure of it. He peered out around the trunk...
Then a roar like the fall of a second Atlantis tore the jungle behind us. The great pillar stood shuddering, and then it fell, smashing branches and saplings on its way. It shook the ground when it fell, and the treetops parted ...
"I'm wondering if there isn't a connection between this Viking’s appearance and our man's disappearance." "Yes, but I still don't know. It's all...so...well, I don't know. So unusual..."
Tigers walk here, where Maharajahs rode, with jackals as their grooms and serving men. There lies the ancient, ruined city. There lies Delwaar San.
"Good reflexes," Hazard thought: "just the sort Sarge appreciated when the brain behind them could keep up."
He checked his Kruger in its holster. It felt good in his grip. 'No', he told himself. 'Not just yet. Not yet.'
A brilliant light threw their shadows against the far wall and vanished. The office and its contents were gone.