37. Saipan

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I had likened the drowning airplane to a whale. I couldn't have been more wrong.

That aircraft had been nothing but a hull, a vessel of death.

But a whale was life. And if anything deserved to be likened to a whale, it was the island before me.

Saipan was gigantic, with trees abundant along its mighty, curved back and houses studding its sides. It was teaming with life, vibrant, and forceful.

It was nothing like the tiny, dry island that had been my home for more than two weeks. Guguan was its name, Napo had explained, a natural reserve of the Northern Mariana Islands.

I turned the wheel of The Indomitable, Napo's ship, and operated the throttle to awake the engine, just like he had taught me. I pointed the prow at a green stretch of coastline devoid of the signs of civilization.

It would be best to avoid the official ports and the authorities that were bound to ask questions. I had to slip back into civilization with stealth. The Syndicate, those who had ordered the killing back on Guguan, must not be aware of my existence.

Napo had been understanding, even helpful, when I had told him that I had reason to avoid the officials. He had given me two addresses on Saipan, specialists in documents and identities, obviously a blooming trade on this island in the middle of the Pacific.

He had fed me coconut titiyas and given me some spare clothes.

Then, I had fed on him.

Killing him.

It was no more than a memory now; a slur of the tide; a reverie, or the sound of a key, turning.

And that memory was locked deeply into the most secret crannies of my brain. I knew it was there, but I didn't seek it out. The only vestiges of my deed I allowed to linger were the irresistible urge that had made me do it and the taste of human blood—so much more potent than the poor, red sap of the birds.

Its innate power had been the catalyst turning me into a being different from my former self. It had filled me with three things:

Life, purpose, and being.

Life was the sheer power of my blood throbbing hotly in my veins, of my muscles working smoothly under my skin, and of my senses sharp enough to cut.

Purpose was the downfall of the Syndicate. I had decided to destroy them in revenge of those who had died: the six companions I lost on the island, Farid among them; and those who were killed in the plane, most of all Adriana, the flight attendant, whose drowning gaze would be a reminder to the end of my days. The memory stick in my pocket was my weapon, waiting for me to wield it.

Being was what defined me. It was the craving. The craving for the blood that kept us all alive.

The blood that kept some more alive than others.


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