Nightwing

Free Nightwing by Martin Cruz Smith

Book: Nightwing by Martin Cruz Smith Read Free Book Online
Authors: Martin Cruz Smith
Empire. Keeping watch, the Hopis cut a notch in a stick for each year their Brother was late.
    There were twenty notches when de Tovar appeared on the horizon. Hastily, the Hopis prepared for this epic culmination. Fire Clan and Bear Clan priests ran down to the desert and drew a line of welcoming blue cornmeal before the horses and armored men. De Tovar looked on in confusion, and so it fell to the Catholic priest to make a decision. “Why are we here?” he yelled. “Santiago!” the troopers answered, lanced the Hopis in their way, and rushed up the mesa, quickly subduing the pueblos.
    For the greater glory of God, the Hopis were made Christians and slaves. They were sent down mines in search of gold, silver, mercury, and oil-saturated shale that burned like coal. Indians found conducting pagan rites were whipped and torched with burning turpentine. For 140 years, the Hopis endured their error about de Tovar, until the Tewa called Popay sent to them a knotted cord indicating the night of rebellion throughout the pueblos of the Southwest. At the Black Mesa, the moment of revolt was signaled by the call of a screech owl. The Castillo soldiers were slaughtered at the church doors, the priests were knifed at the altar, their steel pikes were buried and the church razed to its last stone. In all, over five hundred Spanish died during their retreat to Mexico, and although the Hopis were subsequently overrun by Spanish and Mexicans and Americans the tribe became infamous for its reluctance to convert again.
    They settled down to wait for the real, the true Pahana.
    Selwyn emerged from behind the sign zipping his fly.
    “The Bible says that Jesus went into the wilderness and there he fasted for forty days.” He shook his pants. “Sort of interesting exactly how long the Son of God could take living like a Hopi, huh?”
    “You’re a cynical bastard, Selwyn.”
    “Not compared to you. I just talk that way. Booze keeps me innocent.”
    “Except for your kidney.”
    Two cars came flashing up the road to the mesa. The first was a new Buick Le Sabre, shiny in spite of its patina of dust. As the car went by, Youngman caught sight of its driver, a square-faced Indian in a business suit talking on a car phone as he steered. A sticker on the bumper read “Dine Bizeel.” “Navajo Power.”
    “Walker Chee!” Mae looked in awe after the car of the Chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council.
    “Headpounder.” Youngman used the Hopi epithet for Navajos, earned by the Navajos’ old habit of crushing the skulls of their prisoners.
    The second car was a Cadillac. Behind the wheel was a man unknown to Youngman, a white in shirtsleeves and a tie. He glanced at the Indians on the side of the road, sunglasses making one decisive swipe.

    Inside the Land Rover, after a night of signal tracking, Paine was asleep. Sweating and dreaming in the morning heat.
    He was back in Mexico.
    He and his father were immunologists under contract to the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Pecuarias, working out of the agency’s Vampire Bat Research Station in Mexico City. The research station’s aim was to control derriengue, rabies transferred by vampire bites. The Paines’ particular mission was to find why the vampires were largely immune to the lethal virus they carried.
    Paine’s closed eyelids glistened. He was back in the Sierra Madre del Sur, near the Guatemalan border. In the cave. He and his father and Ochay were following the beams of their helmet lamps, feeling their way along a ridge two hundred feet above the cavern floor. The cavern wormed its way half a mile into the mountain. Its general shape was ovoid, the walls below the ridge smoothly curved to the floor, the walls above arched another hundred feet up to giant stalactites and the bat roosts. Paine was a team leader and point man. He was attached to a nylon rope strung through saw-toothed pitons he hammered into the limestone wall. Joe Paine and Ochay were close behind, unattached,

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