“Oh mein Gott! Der ist der Junge vom Pier!”
Wil wheeled as a woman screamed behind her; Pendergast’s breath was ghosting at her shoulder. He was out of breath, not from running, but... what had he been doing when they’d first seen the streets fill with hysterical faces? She wasn’t sure she knew. But he was breathing hard now, his eyes shining like an arctic wolf’s in the gleam of dusk washing everything in golds and reds and looming purples.
“I’m compartmentalizing certain irrelevant areas of my mind, Miss Beinert,” he murmured, almost on cue as they rounded a stony corner shop filled with dark shelves of baskets and butterkäse wrapped in parti-colored cellophane.
A tourist trap. The dock area was always full of tourists. Today had been no exception.
“Were you able to ascertain the thing’s objective from our last vantage, Agent?”
Wil was in no mood for evasion; there was a goal to accomplish. They had to get to those docks. Whoever it was causing all the trouble -who was she kidding? It had to be the Doctor-was going to answer for the disappearances of those twenty-six people. The victims had been her friends, her fellow Germans.
“By the way, what else were you doing? Mind tricks? You’re thoroughly winded. I’ve never seen you like this.”
Aloysius Pendergast stopped running, took a deep breath and looked up at Wil, his pale, narrow lips curving in a wintry, utterly ambiguous smile that might have, under different circumstances, been a point of local gossip for decades to come.
“I could hardly take the title of mentalist without the Doctor’s intervention, Miss Beinert.”
His face softened briefly, and Wil found herself wondering about the circumstances of their last meeting.
“I was analyzing the note the Doctor left for us. It was a passage from Exodus... ”
"And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever." (Exodus 21:5-6)
Furrowing her brows at the agent’s admission, Wil grabbed a fleeing, balding man by the hem of his faded tan jumper.
“... der Junge vom Pier? Was?”
But the man’s deep eyes were filled with something Wil could not name. He stared at her staring at him, and his fat mouth shivered with the effort of speech.
“Der Dämon… he' s gegessen allen Engeln! Gott speichern uns alle!”
His body clenched involuntarily and then he staggered away to join the fleeing throngs. More people took up the cry, and soon it rang wildly through the streets of Berlin’s rural outskirts like the aftermath of an Italian Mass.
“What was that? I’m not fluent,” Pendergast asked her, and she answered him, careful to keep one eye on the madding crowds as they darted through the waves of flesh toward the water’s edge.
“The demon... he’s eaten all the angels. It doesn’t make sense to me... ”
Then they reached the pier.
Twenty six pale, winged bodies lay in piles before them, pooled like refuse in the streets. Twenty six aliens, discarded like dolls. Like food. And in the middle of them all, standing like a pillar among the carcasses, stood a young man with brown hair, wearing black dress pants and a white shirt opened to the breeze. His bare feet were stained in blood, and a lake of the red stuff circled his feet, still moving, only to roll to a stop on steep banks forged of dead Angelform Chronovores. Agent Pendergast had briefly spoken of them with someone on the telephone when he’d thought her asleep one night, but, seeing them now, Wil found she had trouble breathing. It was bad enough with all that blood, and as the air caught in her lungs and throat, she held to Pendergast’s hand more tightly.
Almost instantly, Pendergast put his other hand on the firearm he kept in his jacket pocket, his custom Les Baer. There was no sense in concealing its sleek silver length any longer, especially with lives at stake.
Wil saw this, and shrank back mentally from the tell-tale tightening of his fingers on the grip. “You’re going to fire that? At him? What if that’s-”
He never blinked when he spoke, as though he’d used a gun in every possible situation.
“The eventual discharge of my weapon is a high probability, at this point,” the agent added softly, giving her a slight smile as he gently pushed her down behind him.
Then, his skinny, lithe body a tall, protective wall of white and black, FBI Special Agent Aloysius X. Leng Pendergast dropped to one knee and took aim at the young man standing alone in the sea of red.