The Angelus Guns
by Max Gladstone
Three nights after Thea's brother left for the revolution in the Crystal City, she packed a bag to
She expected a fight when she confessed her plan. Instead her young mother closed her eyes, and
opened them, and asked, "Can you bring him back?" They sat together at their outpost's small
kitchen table, and drank tea, and curled their wings close about themselves, though the late
summer night was warm.
"I have to try," she said, "before the end. It won't be long now."
Her mother rocked on her stool.
Earlier that day, wandering among the primitives they'd come to this world to watch --
scavenger lizards still struggling to master fire, a few thousand years behind schedule -- they'd
seen battleships gather in the sky, and heard the rumble of the Angelus Guns returning to the
Crystal City. Rainbow machines in their blood sang a war song to call the hosts of heaven home.
"You could stay," her young mother said. "Let him live with the choice he's made. Our fighting
days are done. We are scientists now. Scholars."
"I could stay," she said, meaning, but I will not.
"I can't lose you both."
"What if he does not want to leave? Will you fight to bring him home?"
Thea did not answer that question.