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An old Pagham skipping rhyme was drumming through Mercy's head. She had sung it herself, skipping with her friends on the school yard, just one of those things that everybody knew. 

Jump to the left, jump to the right

The Hunters are coming out tonight

Don't know who they're hunting so skip one-two

Get caught out and they'll be after you!

She knotted her fingers together in her lap. The Hunters had always scared her, in the same way some children are always uneasy around police in uniform. Hunters never came for Resurrectionists as a rule, so her community had very few collective personal reasons to be wary; but there were other groups, even kids she had gone to school with, who had far more to be concerned about. Werewolves feared the flash of silver hidden in the dark. Vampires stalked the rooftops, tensely prepared to dodge a silent stake. There had been a time when ghouls went everywhere in groups of three. People unfortunate enough to have a traditional surname at one time, when Mercy had been a little girl, could expect a midnight knock on the door for no other reason than that. 

       Carrie had never heard of the Hunters, and Mercy envied her that for a moment, Then she started to worry. They had a reputation that the recent years of reform weren't going to shift in a hurry. They weren't detectives - they were enforcers. Only now, with the Mother Superior in charge, were they training Hunters to be more than glorified thugs and legalised contract killers. The Hunters killed people for money. They were relentless. They were usually good at it.

        Carrie was silent, staring out of the taxi window with a distant, grim expression. Mercy wished Jazz was with them. She hoped Jazz would be at The Crows, waiting - or that he was with Dr Monday, or anywhere, but as long as he was safe. 

          Colonel Curtis was out there somewhere, but Mercy hoped the Hunters would find him before he found them. Mr Oir must have used up all his remaining energy in the last disappearance - she hoped he had made it to the mausoleum and given a report. She hoped the report was being taken seriously. She hoped - and her fingers knotted tighter in her lap - that they would be assigned someone shrewd, someone who would know exactly how to handle the situation. She hoped they would be assigned someone who knew what to do with men like Colonel Curtis. 

           The Crows came into view, and Mercy almost missed it. Carrie sat up straight, one hand clutching the handle of the taxi door. Mercy was afraid she would leap out while the taxi was still bowling along at thirty miles an hour, but to Mercy's relief, she didn't. 

"It's still standing," Carrie said. She didn't sound like herself. 

"Perhaps it hasn't spread," Mercy suggested, "Maybe Jack got there in time..."

"Oh, god, Jack..." Carrie was growing paler by the second, and Mercy started praying for the Fire Brigade to show up, for the scream of sirens, for something

By the time the taxi turned in and crunched up the drive, Carrie was a quivering coil of nerves and tension. She yanked open the door before the taxi stopped, causing the driver to slam his brakes on with a curse, and half fell, half jumped out of the car to pound around the side of the house. Smoke was billowing from the back in thick choking clouds. Flames were licking at the curtains in the living room, and the heat caught Mercy unawares when she got out to follow suit. Her first thought was that Carrie would run into the burning building. She was so consumed with this idea that she didn't notice the flames were licking the curtains, but not climbing them. Running around the side of the house, she was relieved to see Carrie standing in the garden, arms hanging limply by her sides, staring at the kitchen. 

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