Nellie sat at the table writing. She looked up as Lucy entered.
“How many rats do you think you could summon?” Nellie asked Lucy.
“I cannot give you a number because I have not taken a census of the rat population, but I can assure you there will be many. Rats, bats, and all manner of creatures that will heed my call.”
Dr. Paine entered the small kitchen with the vampire Rhiannon. The vampire knelt in front of Lucy, her head touching the floor.
“What brings you here, daughter?” Lucy said.
“My Queen, I am here to beg your forgiveness,” she said.
“What for, my daughter?”
“I – I lost faith in you, My Queen,” Rhiannon said. “I was weak.”
“You have returned,” Lucy said. “You are forgiven.”
“I will not fail you again,” she said.
“We should strike quickly,” Dr. Paine said.
“Yes,” Lucy said. “Tell us who is there with them.”
At the table, they held a brief war council. Rhiannon spoke quickly. Even with her joining Lucy, they were still outnumbered by the vampires with The Scarlet Lord and his and Nyarlathotep’s mortal followers.
Nellie called Ian into the kitchen. “Take this message to Wade,” she said. “Find a cab. We’ll need all the vehicles. If all else fails, you two need to explain to London what happened. Perhaps they’ll be able to succeed where we didn’t.”
“You’re just sending me out of harm’s way,” he said.
Nellie’s laughter sounded harsh. “Do you really think I care that much about your life?” she asked. “This is important otherwise I wouldn’t spare a single gun. Go and don’t get caught. There could be anything out there hunting for us.”
“You’re lucky I found you and not one of the others,” Rhiannon said.
Reassured he had an important role to play, Ian left.
There was silence for a moment until they heard the front door close.
“You just wanted him out of harm’s way,” Beau said.
“He’d just get himself killed or worst, as green as he is, he’d shoot one of us by accident,” Nellie said.
Then she quickly explained her plan.
“It’s not much, but it’s the best I could come up with so quickly,” Nellie said. “Most likely it will be up to Wade and Ian to fill in the Chief what happened to the rest of us. Maybe the Chief will be able to put together another team in time to thwart Nyarlathotep’s plan.”
Lucy rose and Rhiannon and Grace bowed and followed her out the house. Lucy called out to the ghouls and spoke to them in an unknown language. With much bowing, they listened and one of them ran to the gate and departed into the darkness. As she spoke, Beau and the others loaded themselves up with weapons and ammunition.
Two of the ghouls got into the back of the shot-up car with Dr. Paine, Nellie and Rhiannon squeezing into the front. Two others got into the back of another car driven by Seth Adams. Beau and Lucy sat together in the front seat of the sedan stolen from The Scarlet Lord’s dead followers. Grace sat in the back of their car.
Lucy leaned close to Beau. “I liked the Mercedes,” she said. “What happened to it?”
“The Scarlet Lord’s people machine gunned it,” he explained, and then he did a double-take. Lucy’s appearance had begun to change, from a very pale, blonde-haired woman, to a dark-haired woman with short, sharp horns in her forehead and a face that looked different as well. While Lucy was a beautiful woman, she now had an unearthly beauty, like a goddess, or, he thought, a demon.
“Beau, watch your driving,” she said.
Beau swerved back on the road narrowly avoiding a parked car. “Your physical change caught me off-guard,” he said.
“What do you mean?” Lucy asked, turning the rear view mirror towards her. “I didn’t even notice,” she said to herself. “I would – that is Lilith would – take on this appearance before battle in the past. I assumed it subconsciously. You do know I can change my appearance at will? Does this form displease you?”
“No,” he said. “I think I understand.”
“Then tell me,” she said.
“This is a rebellion by your subjects instigated by a vampire who has a history with Lilith,” Beau said. “That is in the back of your mind.”
“I trusted him,” she said. “He loved me once.”
“I’m a demon,” she said. “I had no understanding of love. I suppose I thought I did. I took pleasure in being with him. I thought I knew him. Yet I did not know what love is until Lucy. After Lucy destroyed my body and drew my essence into her, I could read her thoughts. You could not understand what it was like to experience love for the first time even though I did it vicariously through her. I found it terrifying, thrilling, and intoxicating. When her husband was killed during the war in France, I experienced the grief she felt. It was horrific. As a demon, I had never experienced such pain. I could not believe there was no physical injury to her, but it was the bleakest agony. It made me consider my past actions in a new light.”
“This is the longest I’ve heard you speaking as Lilith,” Beau said. “Usually you refer to Lilith in the third person.”
“Interesting,” she said. “I wonder if it is related to my subconscious change of appearance.”
“Just don’t forget to approach Nellie and Dr. Paine as Lucy or they won’t recognize you.”
Lucy stared out the window lost in her thoughts. Beau did not interrupt her. He pulled into an alley not far from The Scarlet Lord’s temple.
“Be careful, Beau,” Lucy said without turning around. “I’m rather fond of you.”
Beau swallowed. She had never said she loved him and he did not expect it of her though he loved her deeply. He understood her better now and he thought he knew why she would never love him and he accepted it. He felt sad that he might be dead soon and not see her again or worse something might happen to her. He wanted to pull her to him to kiss her, but feared he would not let go. Then she turned back to him and their lips met softly and quickly and she was gone.