Integra lit her cigar with the absent-mindedness of long practice, not taking her eyes from the battle above. Light flared, and she drew in a long breath of smoke.
Drops of blood seemed to fall in slow motion as the two men moved through the air, graceful as dancers, murderous as crows, evil as ravens. The fringes of their coats hung loose behind them and belled out in smooth arcs, carved into long strips by a flurry of scalpels or a shadowy claw. The aristocrat and the doctor, the agent and the transporter. Alucard and Doctor Jackal. Two monsters who looked like men.
All the others who had come for the Codex Mariae were dead now, and hadn't even died the sort of death from which they might rise again. Their bodies littered the ground; their blood soaked into the earth.
It seemed to Integra as she watched that the corpses formed an obscene love letter of sorts. They were the transcript of a greater statement, the physical shape of something that went abroad by night and breathed outside her window.
Above her, the man in black and the man in red clashed again, one jeering and mocking, the other murmuring soft words of slaughter and blood, but both of them saying the same thing to each other; don't stop now.
Their eyes were glints in the darkness. Their movements were a rising spiral of tension that never quite broke, that kept on building, where each new drop of blood or red wound on white flesh was a pulsebeat faster. She reached for the butt of her pistol with her free hand, feeling its slick weight against her palm.
She owed him this.
"Alucard!" she called. "This is an order! Release control art restriction to level zero!"
His laughter shattered the sky and his shadow filled it, seething with other shadows, with faces emerging from the darkness, but beneath it she could hear Doctor Jackal's breathing grow faster; splinters of light spun around him and surged upwards as he flung himself forward, his sword leading the way.