The Dinosaur Knights (The Dinosaur Lords #2) - Victor Milan

Part One

Colloquy in a Sewer

Prologue

Los Ángeles Grises, Grey Angels, Los Siete, the Seven.…—The Creators’ supernatural servitors: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Remiel, Zerachiel, and Raguel, who are charged with maintaining sacred Equilibrium on Paradise. They possess remarkable powers and mystic weapons, and when they walk out in the world, they often take on a terrifying appearance. They are not humane, and regard all things as straw dogs.

—A PRIMER TO PARADISE FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF YOUNG MINDS

Firefly Palace—The sewers far beneath.

URIEL: Before you go, my friend—a moment.

RAGUEL: You’re not going to try to change my mind again, are you?

URIEL: No. I’ll abide by the compact—until my turn arrives. I only wonder how you plan to return to Providence?

RAGUEL: Release this body back to dust and reanimate the one there. It’s waiting for me in a safe place, nice and dormant and ringed about with the strongest protections. It probably won’t even have decayed appreciably, in such a brief interval by Outerworld standards.

URIEL: But aren’t you the least bit nervous there might someday be a duplication error—and, you will forgive my saying this, cause you to undergo the True Death?

RAGUEL: The prospect does not unduly worry me.

URIEL: Don’t think it can’t happen just because it hasn’t happened yet.

RAGUEL: It hasn’t happened to any of us. Not that way.

URIEL: The prospect chills me to the core. What about her? Might Aphrodite intervene to cause such a thing?

RAGUEL: She wouldn’t dare. That would bring her the same fate.

URIEL: She dares much, though. She walks the narrowest of lines, with her meddling on behalf of the dirt people.

RAGUEL: But she’s bound no less than we, by the same terrible threat that compels us all. Anyway, given the way she always prates about it, she does take seriously her role of preserving Paradise and all its creatures. Including us.

URIEL: And therein lies the problem.

RAGUEL: The one thing that concerns me is my Providence avatar getting destroyed.

URIEL: What a shame that would be.

RAGUEL: I’m sure you’d weep bitter tears that our faction lost, and had to yield to yours. You’re not getting too eager, are you?

URIEL: Not enough to cheat. It’s your turn, you and your fellow frothing Purifiers.

RAGUEL: And I shall yield to you and your fellow Fundamentalists. If I should fail. I just won’t.

Part Two

Rebirth

Chapter 1

Chillador, Squaller, Great Strider—Gallimimus bullatus. Fast, bipedal, herbivorous dinosaurs with toothless beak. 6 meters long, 1.9 meters tall at the hips, 440 kilograms. Imported to Nuevaropa as a mount. Bred for varied plumage; distinguished by a flamboyant feather neck-ruff, usually light in color. Frequently ridden in battle by light-riders, as well as occasionally by knights and nobles too poor to afford war-hadrosaurs. Extremely truculent, with lethal beaks and kicking hind-claws.

—THE BOOK OF TRUE NAMES

Somewhere in central Francia:

Unseen, the hunter crouched in dense brush, watching with scarlet eyes.

Her belly rumbled so loudly with hunger that she feared it might give her position away. Her every instinct raged at her to strike, to rush down, snap the tailless two-legs in half, kick over their wooden shell-on-wheels, sink her teeth behind the frill of one of the hornfaces tied to it and rake its belly open with her powerful hind-talons.

But she would not. Could not.

Her mother, her lost mother for whom the longing was a constant ache, had taught her well. She must not kill two-legs, no matter how hungry she was or how tasty they were. Not unless ordered to by her mother, who wasn’t here to do so. Or unless they attacked her.

The Allosaurus was cunning, intelligent for her kind and in her fashion. That did not equip her to persuade herself that