Gary flew with the undead pigeons on First Avenue. Through their eyes he watched as they fell, whole flocks at a time, tumbling through the air, their wingtips spinning lifelessly. Gary was a man of his word - if Dekalb wanted to take him up on his generous offer the way to the UN building would be clear. Gary wasn't so much afraid of Dekalb as concerned. While the weapons inspector and his team of Somali killers could hardly make a dent in Gary's defenses, they could conceivably do something so random it would endanger Gary's breeding stock. If they were to fire missiles at the broch, for instance, Gary would almost certainly survive but Marisol's people could be hurt in the ensuing chaos and debris. A thousand such scenarios had gone through Gary's mind and he didn't relish any of them. Getting Dekalb out of New York as quickly as possible was just good common sense.
Gary sucked the life out of the birds until only one remained, banking unconcernedly over the great piles of its former wingmates, the greasy iridescent blue feathered masses of them clogging the streets. Gary spilled air across a pair of fluttering wings and wheeled toward the river and Long Island. He dug deep with the bird's pinions and soared until he could see Jamaica Bay burnished by the sun, until he thought he could see the earth curving away beneath him but... enough. He gave the bird a hard squeeze and its vision dimmed. A barely-noticeable spark of dark energy flowed into Gary's being.
In a soft and shadowed place he shifted in his king-sized bathtub and fluid seeped into the hollow of his collarbone. He reared up, the briny liquid falling away from him in torrents, and grabbed his bathrobe. There was work to be done.
Marisol vomited noisily across the brick floor. "Morning sickness?" Gary asked, lifting the living woman to her feet by one elbow.
She shook him away. "I'm suffocating in here. What is that stuff, pickle juice?"
"Formalin," Gary responded, looking down at the pool of straw-colored liquid he'd just clambered out of. "I'm preserving myself for future generations. You should be grateful. The more I protect myself from bacterial decay, the fewer of your people I have to eat. Let's go get some air if it bothers you so much."
As he lead her up the spiraling staircase hidden in the tower's double wall he summoned one of the mummies to clean up the sick. It gave him a real if petty pleasure to make Mael's former honor guard do janitorial work but honestly, somebody had to clean the broch and only the mummies retained the necessary manual dexterity. Gary's own hands acted like they were encased in fur-lined mittens - he couldn't even button his own shirt. The Ptolemies from the museum could use simple tools, at least.
"How are your people settling in?" Gary asked. The dead were still hard at work constructing the wall around the prison village but the living had already been moved into their simple houses. Gary had provided as much help as he could with books from the Public Library down on Forty-Second street and archaic tools taken from the Museum of the City of New York (known for its period rooms) but it couldn't be easy for twenty-first century people to suddenly be forced into an eighteenth century existence. Gary had no way to provide electricity or running water, much less television and online shopping. Rude survival was all that he offered. Still, it beat the alternative.
"They're scared, of course. They don't trust you."
Gary frowned. "I'm a ghoul of my word. Anyway it's in my best interest to keep them safe."
Marisol gave him something approaching a defiant smile. "They didn't trust Dekalb and he had a boat in the harbor. Jesus, do you even know what you look like these days? It's not a logic thing, okay? They see a dead guy who smells like pickles and who still has scraps of skin in his teeth, they want to run the other way. Give them a break. In time, I guess... I guess you can get used to anything but for now... They've been herded into a corral in the middle of an army of bloodthirsty monsters and now they're being lorded over by a cannibal in a bathrobe. They're scared. Most of them. A couple still think they're going to rescued."
Gary scratched himself. "Rescued? What, by Dekalb? If he wants to do the smart thing he'll leave me the fuck alone."
It was a hard walk to the top of the broch, probably too much for a pregnant woman with a bad stomach (she did seem to be panting a lot when they reached the top) but Gary took the steep stairs easily, nearly running up two steps at a time. "Of course, he won't do the smart thing," he told Marisol. Noseless and Faceless were waiting for them on the unfinished tower's ramparts. Noseless brought forward a silver tray with a dozen sticks of beef jerky fanned out for Gary's pleasure. He took one and chewed vigorously. Grudgingly Marisol took another, staring at it in her hand for a long while before biting into it, perhaps wondering if it was dried human meat. It wasn't - Gary was no savage. "Dekalb is an idealist. He'll come here, even if he has to come alone, even if it means his death."
"Maybe he'll have some help," Marisol suggested. "You haven't met my Jack yet."
Gary gestured for her to look over the park. Below them, arrayed in their thousands, stood the dead - their shoulders slumped, their bodies wasted but there were so many of them. They covered the ground like locusts, their constant movement like the waves of a sea.
He reached into the eididh, seized the throats and diaphragms of thousands of the dead in his spectral fist. The air sighed with their spasms as for the first time in weeks or months their esophagi opened and air flowed into them. Gary let it out like air spilling from the neck of a balloon.
"Hell... o..." the dead moaned. The noise was like tectonic plates shifting, like an ocean draining away through a crack in the world. A real dead-end sound, a symphony for solo apocalypse. Gary's lips split open he was smiling so hard. "Hello... Marisol..."
"I don't need any more males," Gary told her. "If they come here they'll die."