The twin sons of the Necroscope find new adventures as Nestor becomes a Vamphyri Lord and Nathan is trapped on Earth, trying to return to his own world to battle his evil twin. 20,000 first printing. $20,000 ad/promo.
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Brian Lumley is the author of the bestselling Necroscope series of vampire novels. The first Necroscope, Harry Keogh, also appears in a collection of Lumley's short fiction, Harry Keogh and Other Weird Heroes, along Titus Crow and Henri Laurent de Marigny, from Titus Crow, Volumes One, Two, and Three, and David Hero and Eldin the Wanderer, from the Dreamlands series.
An acknowledged master of Lovecraft-style horror, Brian Lumley has won the British Fantasy Award and been named a Grand Master of Horror. His works have been published in more than a dozen countries and have inspired comic books, role-playing games, and sculpture, and been adapted for television.
When not writing, Lumley can often be found spear-fishing in the Greek islands, gambling in Las Vegas, or attending a convention somewhere in the US. Lumley and his wife live in England.
The Last Aerie
PART ONE:E-BRANCH1Harry's PassingTo the members of E-Branch, bad dreams were an occupational hazard; it was generally accepted that nightmares went with the work. Ben Trask, current head of the Branch, had always had his share of bad dreams. Indeed, since the Yulian Bodescu affair twelve years ago, he'd had more than his share. And only half of them when he was asleep. The sleeping ones were of the harmless variety: they frightened but couldn't kill you. They were engendered of the waking sort, which were very different: sometimes they could kill and worse. Because they were real.As for this one: it wasn't so much a bad as a weird dream. And weirder because Trask was wide awake, having driven his car through the wee small hours of a rainy night into the heart of London, and parked it opposite E-Branch HQ ... without knowing why. And Trask was fussy about things like that; he generally liked to be responsible for his actions.It was a Sunday in mid-February of 1990, one of those rare days when Trask could get away from his work and switch off, or rather switch on. To the normal world which existed outside the Branch. It should have been one of those days, anyway. But here he was, at E-Branch HQ in the middle of the sleeping city, and in the eye of his mind this weird dream which wouldn't go away, this daydream repeating over and over, like flickering frames from an old monochrome movie projected onto a window, so that he could see right through it. A ghost film: if he blinked his eyes rapidly it would vanish, however momentarily, and return just as soon as he relaxed:A corpse, smouldering, with its fire-blackened arms flung wide; steaming head thrown back as in the final agony of death; tumbling end over end into a black void shot through with thin neon bars or ribbons of blue, green, and red light.It was a tortured thing, yes, but dead now from all of its torments and no longer suffering; unknown and unknowable as the weird waking dream which it was. And yet there was something morbidly familiar about it; so that watching it, Trask's face was grey and his lips drawn back in a silent snarl from his strong, slightly yellow teeth. If only the corpsewould stop tumbling for a moment and come into focus, give him a clearer shot of the blistered, silently screaming face ...Trask got out of his car into a sudden squall of leaden raindrops, as if some Invisible One had dipped his hands in water and scooped it into Trask's face. Muttering a curse as he turned up the collar of his overcoat, he glanced at the building across the street, craning his neck to peer up at the high windows of E-Branch. Up there he expected to see a light--just one, burning in a window set central in the length of the entire upper story which was the Branch--lighting the room which housed the duty officer through his lonely night vigil. Well, he saw the duty officer's light, right enough, and keeping it company, three or four more which he hadn't expected. But he saw more than the lights, for even the rain couldn't wash away the tortured, monotonously tumbling figure from the screen of his mind.Trask knew that if he were someone or thing other than who and what he was--head of a top-secret, in more than one way esoteric security organization--then the experience must surely scare the hell out of him. Except, well, he'd been scared by experts. Or he might believe he was going mad. But there again, E-Branch was ... E-Branch. This thing he was experiencing, it must be in his mind, he supposed. It had to be, for there was no physical mechanism to account for it. Or was there?Hallucination? Well, possibly. Someone could have got to him, fed him drugs, brainwashed him ... but to what end? Why bring him here in the dead of night? And why bring these other people here? (The extra lights up there, the shiny black MG Metro pulling into the curb, and the bloke across the road--an E-Branch agent, surely?--even now running through the rain toward the Branch's back door entrance.) Why were they here?"Sir?" A girl struggled stiffly, awkwardly out of the Metro. She was Anna Marie English, a Branch esper. English by name but never an English rose--nor any sort of rose by any other name--she was enervated, pallid, dowdy, a stray cat drowning in the rain. It was her talent, Trask knew, and he felt sorry for her. She was "ecologically aware"; or as she herself was wont to put it, she was "as one with the Earth." When water tables declined and deserts expanded, so her skin dried out, became desiccated. When acid rains ate into Scandinavian forests, her dandruff fell like snow. In her dreams she heard whale species singing sadly of their decline and inevitable extinction, and she knew from her aching bones when the Japanese were slaughtering the dolphins. A human lodestone, she tracked illicit nuclear waste, monitored pollution, shrank from yawning holes in the ozone as a coral polyp from a diver's probing spearpoint. Yes, she was an "ecopath": she felt for the Earth and suffered all of its sicknesses, and unlike the rest of us knew that she, too, was dying from them.Trask looked at her: she was twenty-four and looked fifty. Despite his pity, perhaps paradoxically, he thought of her in harsh, disassociated, almost disapproving terms--thick-lensed spectacles, liver spots, hearing aid, straggle-haired, crumpled blouse, splay-legged-and knew he disliked her because she mirrored the decline of the world. And that was his talent at work. Ben Trask was a human lie detector: he recognized a lie when he saw, felt, heard, or otherwise perceived one as other men recognize a slap in the face; so that, conversely, in the absence of falsehood he must acknowledge truth. Except Anna Marie English's truth was unbearable. If Greenpeace had her and could make the world believe in her, they would win their case in one ... though of course it would be lost at one and the same time. For they'd suspect that they were too late. But Trask also knew that it wasn't quite like that. The world was a huge creature and had been sorely wounded, and Anna Marie English was just too small to sustain so much damage. But while she was suffering almost beyond endurance, the Earth could go on taking it for a long time yet. This was Trask's view of it, anyway. He supposed it made him an optimist, which was something of a paradox in itself."Can you see it?" he said. "Do you have any idea what it's all about?"She looked at him and saw a mousy-haired, green-eyed man in his late thirties. Trask was about five feet ten, a little overweight and slope-shouldered, and wore what could only be described as a lugubrious expression. Perhaps it had to do with his talent: in a world where the plain truth was increasingly hard to find, it was no easy thing being a lie detector. White lies, half-truths, and downright fables came at Trask from all directions, until sometimes he felt he didn't want to look anymore.But Anna Marie English had her own problems. Finally she nodded her bedraggled mop of a head. "I see it, yes, but don't ask me what it's all about. I woke up, saw it, and knew I had to come here. That's all. But I've a hunch the world's a loser yet again." Her voice was a coughing rasp."A hunch?""This thing isn't specific to me." She frowned. "This time I'm just ... an onlooker? It isn't hurting me. I feel for him, yes, but his fate doesn't seem to have made much impression on the world in general. Yet at the same time, somehow I think it makes the world less.""Do you know him?""I feel that I should know him, certainly," she answered, simultaneously shaking her head. And ruefully: "I know that I was watching him when I should have been watching the road. I went through two red lights at least!"Trask nodded, took her by the elbow, and guided her across the street."Let's join them and see if anyone else has a clue." In fact he already had more than a clue but was unwilling to give it voice. If he was right, then just like the ecopath he could scarcely view this phenomenon as Earth-damaging. In fact it might even be a relief.With Whitehall no more than a ten-minute walk away, the torn front page from a discarded Pravda seemed strangely out of place where it spun slowly in the current of the flooded gutter, inching soggily and perhaps prophetically towards the iron-barred throat of a gurgling sump. But as if in defiance of the stinging rain, the night, and all other distractions, the phantom hologram continued to display itself wherever the glances of Trask and Anna Marie English happened to fall. It was there in the tiny unmanned foyer, playing on the neutral grey doors of the elevator as if projected there from their eyeballs; and when the doors hissed open to admit them, they took it with them into the cage to be carried up to the top-floor offices of E-Branch HQ.The rest of the building was a well-known hotel; bright lights at the front, and a uniformed doorman from the Corps of Commissionaires sheltering from the rain under his striped plastic canopy, or more likely inside taking a coffee with the night clerk now that all the guests were abed. But up here on the top floor ...This was a different world. And a weird one.E-Branch: Ben Trask felt much the same about it now as he had fourteen years ago when he was first recruited, and as every Branch esper before and since. Alec Kyle, an old friend and ex-head of Branch, was dead and gone now (was he? And his body, too? Was that what this was all about?), but he had come closest to it when he'd used to say, "E-Branch? A funny bloody outfit, Ben! Science and sorcery--telemetry and telepathy--computerized probability patterns and precognition--gadgets and ghosts. We have access to all of these things ... now."That "now" had qualified it. For at the time, Kyle had been talking about Harry Keogh. And later he had become Harry Keogh; Keogh's mind in Kyle's body, anyway ...The cage jerked to a halt; its doors hissed open; Trask and the unnaturally aged "girl," and the hologram, got out.Hologram or phantom? Trask wondered. Gadget ... or ghost? When he was a kid he'd believed in ghosts. Then for a time he hadn't. Now he worked for E-Branch and ... sometimes he wished he were a kid again. For then it was all in the imagination.Ian Goodly, the night duty officer, was waiting for them in the corridor. Very tall, skeletally thin, and gangly, he was a prognosticator or "hunchman." Grey and mainly gaunt-featured, Goodly's expression was usually grave; he rarely smiled; only his eyes--large, brown, warm and totally disarming--belied what must otherwise constitute a ratherunfortunate first impression, that of a cadaverous mortician. "Anna." He offered the girl a polite nod. "Ben?"Trask returned the unspecified query with: "Do you see it, too?""We all do," Goodly answered, his voice high-pitched and a little shrill, but not unusually so. And before Trask could say anything else: "I guessed you'd be in. I've told them to wait for you in the ops room.""How many of them?"Goodly shrugged. "Everyone within a thirty-mile radius."Trask nodded. "Thanks, Ian. I'll go and speak to them. And you'd better go back to keeping watch."Again Goodly's shrug. "Very well, but apart from this it's going to be a quiet night. This thing is happening, and soon it will be finished. And then we'll see what we'll see." He began to turn away.Trask caught his arm and stopped him. "Any ideas?"Goodly sighed. "I could give you ... an 'educated guess'? But I suspect you'd prefer to let it play itself out, right?" Like all hunchmen, he was cautious about being too specific. The future didn't like being pinned down.Someone had called the elevator; its doors closed and the indicator signaled its descent. As Goodly made to return to his watch, Trask uttered a belated "Right," then turned left along the corridor and headed for the ops room. And Anna Marie English limped along behind him.In the ops room they found their colleagues waiting for them. In front of the briefing podium an area had been cleared of chairs where eleven espers formed an inwards-facing circle. Trask and the girl made thirteen. A witch's dozen, he thought wryly. We complete the coven.As the circle opened up and its members adjusted their positions the better to accommodate the latecomers, Trask saw the point of the formation. The combined awareness of the espers added to the hologram's authentication: to experience the thing as a group was to focus it, lend it definition. And the hitherto nebulous mental projection expanded in a moment from a 3-D picture in Trask's mind's eye to a seemingly physical, apparently solid figure right there in front of him! But only apparently solid, for obviously it wasn't real.The ring formed by the espers was maybe fifteen to eighteen feet in diameter; the location of the smouldering corpse where it tumbled backwards, head over heels, free of the floor, as on some invisible spit, was no more than ten feet away from any individual viewer. If it were solid--if it were "here" at all--then the figure would have to be that of a child or a dwarf. But its proportions were those of a normal, adult human being. And so the apparition was some kind of hologram, viewed as from a considerably greater distance than was apparent. It was like a scene in a crystal ball: they were seeing something which had happened, or which was even now in enactment, somewhere else. Andmore than ever Trask believed he knew this ... victim? And more than ever he suspected that this was a scene from another world, even another universe.On entering the room, the head of Branch had noted the identities of the eleven. There was Millicent Cleary, a pretty little telepath whose talent was still developing. There seemed little doubt but that one day she would be a power in her own right, but right now she was vulnerable--telepathy could do that to a person--and Trask thought of her as the kid sister he'd never had. Then there was David Chung, a hugely talented locator and scryer. He was slight, wiry, slant-eyed, and yellow as they come. But he was British from birth, a Londoner, and fiercely loyal to the Branch. All of them were loyal, else the Branch must fail. Chung tracked Soviet stealth subs, IRA units in the field, drug runners--especially the latter. Addiction had killed his parents, which was where his talent had its genesis. And it was still growing.The precog Guy Teale stood to the left of Trask. Like Ian Goodly, he was "gifted" in reading the future, a suspect talent at best. The future didn't like being read and had kicked back more than once. Teale was small, thin, jumpy. Easily startled, he lived on his nerves. His sometime partner Frank Robinson, a spotter who infallibly recognized other espers, stood next to him. Robinson was blond as Teale was dark; boyish and freckled, he looked only nineteen or thereabouts, which was seven years short of the mark. The pair had worked with Trask on the Keogh job some six or seven months ago; they'd helped him corner the Necroscope in his house near Edinburgh and burn the place to the ground. That had caused Harry to escape right out of this world to a place on the other side of the Perchorsk Gate. Since when everyone who knew the score had prayed that he wouldn't be back. And he hadn't been ...Until now? Trask wondered. Is this--im...
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Descripción Roc, 1993. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Never used!. Nº de ref. de la librería P110140169946