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Out of the Dawn

Out of the Dawn by P.C. Cast

In the small town of Mitchell, the green mist settles. Not too long ago, Mercury, Stella and Ford were there, but Ford is dead and the body in the green mist is happy about that. Alvin Fucking Rutland lets the green mist fill him up, and as he does, shadows and earth fill him, too. A little bit later and a little bit farther away, Mercury wakes. She had been dreaming of Ford and asks her new found dog, Khaleesi, if she heard him in the cave. Soon Imani comes in and gets Mercury up and around. She informs her friend that she’s sleeping too late and yes, it’s okay to not be a morning person and it’s also okay to do some depression-sleeping, but it’s the fucking apocalypse and everyone needs to keep their shit together, or at least compartmentalized, so they can survive. Imani wants Mercury to go with her out into the Painted Hills so they can gather some colorful clay to build their adobe homes with.

The world technically only ended like a week ago, but Imani means business. While Mercury was depression-sleeping, the rest of her group (Imani, Stella, Karen, Gemma and the kids Georgie, Hayden and Cayden) have been busy building fancier latrines, fishing in the river, and making their new home in the caves livable while they prepare to build their adobe houses. Imani wants to travel to get colorful clay and also see if she can use their radio to contact Jenny and their friends they left behind at Timberline Resort. She, Mercury and Khaleesi hop into the truck, stopping to carefully cover their tracks, and make their way to a scenic overlook where they find an RV. The couple inside are dead, but they had a gun, some canned food, a few bottles of wine, and some drums and a flute. Imani and Mercury take their supplies and then set up the radio. They are able to reach Jenny who tells them that they’re having trouble with the green mist. They let her know that they’ve made it to where they will create their future home and give them vague but accurate directions and tell the group to come out to meet them as soon as possible. Before they turn off the radio, another woman frantically calls out to them, but almost refuses to tell them where she is located, which gives both Mercury and Imani a bad feeling. They head back home.

Everyone is pleased that Mercury is no longer depression-sleeping and they make a plan to travel out to some nearby towns looking for a library and other supplies. Mercury, Stella, Gemma and Khaleesi will go on this trip. Stella, with her bad-feelings foresight ability, thinks these are the only ones that need to go, even though Karen is good at reading maps, but she doesn't know if Gemma needs to go in order to use her healing abilities or not, she only knows that she needs to be there. The ladies drive on twisty side roads and pass a community in tents holding guns and looking angry, which they plan to avoid on the way back. They see a herd of goats that they think about trying to gather before they make it to the town with the library.

They search the library for important information in books like how to make goat cheese, how to build windmills, how to make bricks and other stuff, but as they search, Khaleesi alerts them to someone else in the building. They find a man with a dog, but the man is injured. Stella’s intuition lets her know that both the man, Marcus, and the dog, Badger, are safe and Gemma rushes over to help him and discovers that his leg is badly broken, but not infected. She heals him a little bit and then remembers him as the owner and cook at a cafe in town and they become fast friends. The group decides to let the man and his dog join them and plan to take them back to their safe haven where Gemma will learn how to set his broken leg. They gather a few more books, mostly medical ones, load Marcus up with some pain killers and head back with Mercury and Khaleesi in Marcus’s Jeep and everyone else in the truck. Stella has a bad feeling that they need to get moving, or actually, they needed to a little while ago.

They drive a little bit, dodging the green mist and bodies when they come upon them, but soon Gemma sees a young man shambling around in the wilderness alone. She demands they stop to help him, but Khaleesi, Stella and Mercury have a bad feeling about him. Gemma acts like a petulant teenager for entirely too long beginning now, but they stop and learn that the guy, Chad, has been bitten by a rattlesnake. That’s a tough wound to heal especially without antivenom, but Gemma is certain she can help him survive. Stella and Mercury want to heal him enough so he can care for himself and leave him behind, but Gemma insists on taking him back to their home. Stella’s intuition is telling her this isn’t a good idea and that Chad is the reason why they should have left the library sooner, but she doesn’t really know why he’s bad, so she allows him to come along. As they drive through small towns, Mercury notices a dead woman on the side of the road with plants growing from her abdomen like some sort of alien monster.

They see the goats again and think about a way to gather them, but they can't do it now, so they continue on to their home. Chad thinks it's pathetic that they are camping and not taking over an abandoned town, but no one but Gemma really cares what Chad has to say. Everyone warms to Marcus and Badger pretty much immediately and, again, no one really cares about Chad, though, as former teachers, Mercury, Stella, Karen and Imani try to give him a chance. As they sit down together to eat, Marcus asks if Chad is related to a woman he knew and discovers that he is her grandson. The women think it is curious that Chad abandoned his grandmother and so does Marcus, especially when he learned that she could grow plants with her blood, but she died when marauders came through, which, when Marcus describes them, the women recognize as the group from Madras. Everyone is safe now, though, and they all enjoy dinner and tuck the injured men in to rest.

Imani takes her usual evening walk to the cedar tree and when she returns, she has dire news. The Destroyer she mentioned just a few days ago at the end of the first book is coming. She can sense that he’s of the earth and not actually a man, but that he’s angry and out for revenge. She tells her friends that they must move their camp up to the top of the cliff and begin working on their adobe brick homes immediately. Imani mentions that there's a small pool of water fed by a small waterfall and a bit of space up there to do their planting, so everything will be fine, but she wishes it was all bigger. The teachers do what teachers do best and plan exactly what they need to do to prepare for their move, then they finally decide to go to sleep.

Mercury dreams of Ford, but he asks her if she's really dreaming or if he's actually there. Then he says he will come to her when she is really ready, but that time has not yet arrived. She reaches behind her to touch his leg and realizes that it is covered in fur then looks over and sees a cloven hoof print. Meanwhile, elsewhere, Eva and some of her goons from Madras are out scavenging. Alvin Fucking Rutland spots her and is aroused by her. When she leaves her group of goons to pee, he approaches her and offers to take her into the mist to help her develop powers like his and then he shows off his ability. Leeches attached to his body slither off and kill a rabbit. Eva is intrigued.

The next day, Gemma asks for Mercury's help in setting Marcus's leg. They get him all hopped up on painkillers and weed, which Chad whines about wanting more himself and everyone tells him no, and then, on the count of two, Mercury yanks, the bone resets, and Marcus passes out. Gemma uses her magic to heal him while he's unconscious, which works very well. He's very nearly perfectly fine when he wakes up. Chad is interested in how Gemma can heal, but the only answer he gets is the green mist. Later, they start carrying their supplies up to the cliff top and Chad doubts that Mercury is strong enough to do some heavy lifting, and while she wants to toss him over the edge, she restrains herself and again explains that they got their powers from the mist. You think he would have picked up on it by now. As they work, surprisingly Cayden and Hayden finally speak and tell Mercury she's their warrior. Yes, yes she is. Then they ask if they'll be safe on the cliff top. Yes, yes they will.

When they reach the top, Mercury is very impressed as it's the first time she's been up there, but Imani and Stella flip out. Remember how Imani wished everything would be bigger? It seems that the earth listened. The small pool is huge and filled with crystal clear water and the planting space is amazing. They all stop to wonder how that happened, but then they think of all the wonderful things they can do now and understand. It's magick. And they're thankful for it. They immediately get to work making their adobe bricks and building their sanctuary in the sky.

Al wakes Eva early the next day and takes her to a river of green mist, ready to help her evolve. She tells him that the green mist did nothing for her, only made her blood toxic to plants, but he suggests she needs to be exposed again, all the time thinking of how he's going to use her and control her and take over Madras and then the world. When Eva comes to after taking in the mist, she coughs and finds a living swarm of mosquitoes inside her body. She can also hear and see and smell much better than before. She hears a nest of squirrels and commands her swarm to devour them, then launches them at Al. She calls them off and then sexily approaches Al. He decides he's going to have her, but not right now. Now he needs to go off and leave a present for his teacher friends.

Mercury, Imani and Stella decide to make a run to Mitchell for more supplies. The large group from Timberline will be there soon and they worry that they won't have enough food for them until their gardens start to grow. Gemma wants to go with Chad to gather more colorful clay for their bricks while Karen and Marcus stay back with the children, but she's being petulant about it which makes the women uncomfortable. Marcus offers to go with them as a chaperone and everyone is sorted. Chad is being a dick the whole time, of course.

When the women arrive in Mitchell, Imani is ecstatic to find a raw wood furniture store and the lumber they find there that will help with making the bricks. There are also rocking chairs that they drool over and decide to return for later. They stop by the grocery store, the feed store and another shop and gather lots more supplies, including surplus containers of salt, olive oil, rice and other basic staples, ropes and animal feed, too, and a beautiful ballerina skirt they bring home for Karen. They also find three inflatable rafts and life jackets which they will grab when they come back for the rocking chairs. As they're about to leave for home, Imani hears a kitten yowling and rushes to find it, but it's near the green mist and covered with leeches. She rescues the kitten and it becomes her new companion, but then she is swallowed up by the mist. This is Imani’s second dose, but luckily she's okay. Meanwhile, Al Fucking Rutland winces with pain when his leech companions are killed. When he sees through their eyes, he notices it is the teachers that destroyed his leeches and knows that they'll be going back to Mitchell again soon.

After a long afternoon of carting supplies up to the cliff top, Mercury is sweaty and smelly and decides to bathe in the creek before eating a fantastic dinner of fish, rice, beans and greens prepared by Marcus. After Mercury is clean, she rests under a tree, exhausted, and falls asleep after smiling up at a beautiful eagle. She thinks she wakes when Ford snuggles in behind her, but he's dead, surely this is a dream. As they are about to dream kiss because, what the hell why not, Stella calls for her. Mercury scrambles up and sees a man with furry legs, horns and hooves bounding away. Ford. He must be alive, just… changed.

After dinner, everyone gathers while Gemma reads to the children. Chad thinks it's stupid and Gemma seems annoyed by him, which makes all the adults happy. Maybe he'll grow up a little and stop being such a dick and maybe Gemma will be more her mature self instead of a starry-eyed teenager. Marcus takes Stella on a romantic stroll which is swoony and Imani goes for her walk to the cedar tree. Mercury and Karen sit by the fire and Karen asks if, when they decide to plant their garden, Mercury will lead them in a ritual. Coming from Christian Karen, this is amazing. She explains that she's learned from her new world and that it's okay that she keeps Jesus alive in it, as long as she doesn't tear anyone else down. Mercury then asks Karen to pray and dance at the ritual, which fills her with joy, and she goes to bed.

Soon after Karen leaves, Imani returns from the cedar tree and blurts out to Mercury that she can feel the tree breathing and that it wants to tell her something, but before that could happen, she panicked and left. Mercury tells Imani that's nothing to be afraid of and that she could feel the essence of an elm tree outside her condo. She explains about her pagan beliefs and that everything has power, even rocks and trees and streams. Imani plans on reaching out to who they lovingly call Grandmother Cedar again.

Eva makes a big announcement in Madras that night. She tells all the women that they will be moved into snug houses right next to the park where they've created their garden area because her very important doctors have discovered that their blood makes plants grow, but don't worry, it's not like they're going to be taken out and bled, oh no. Nothing like that… (Yes probably exactly like that… for reference, please see Into the Mist.) Everyone in town is completely fine with what they've just been told, except for one woman, Martina, who Eva immediately plans to kill, but she is able to escape instead. It's shocking how brainwashed they all are that they're completely fine with being told where to live and what to do. Al is impressed with Eva's ability to manipulate the townsfolk, but he knows his manipulation skills are better. He's still waiting for the opportune time to take over Eva, and Madras, and then the world.

A few days later, Mercury wakes up, super sore from carrying supplies up to the top of the cliff and preparing the garden for planting, which they'll do later in the evening after she leads them in a ritual. She's decided to keep it very simple and wants Stella to paint on everyone with colorful clay, so when she wakes, they plan to gather some more rich colors from the Painted Hills overlook. While they're up there, Stella wants to contact the Timberline group to see where they are on their journey. As they drive, they talk about Marcus and how much Stella scarily likes him and then Mercury blurts out about seeing Ford and thinking he's alive and also part hairy, horned and cloven. Stella believes her friend and tells her to tell Ford she's ready to accept him, horns and hooves. They are able to get in touch with the Timberline group who are only one day away, but as they talk, the same woman from before cuts in again, asking for help, and again, they ignore her, which Stella knows in her gut is the right thing to do.

Later, Stella paints everyone with dots and moons and swirls and stripes in bright beautiful colors. Everyone but Chad, of course, shocking no one. The ritual is brief and simple, but fulfilling to everyone, again, except Chad, though he does follow Gemma with his gaze as she dances to the music played by Hayden, Cayden and Georgie. Mercury calls the elements and Karen leads them in prayer and dances wearing her ballerina skirt as a beautiful eagle soars overhead, and really, the entire thing is lovely. The women finish their ritual by slashing their palms and adding blood to the water as they plant, then they all rinse off their clay, eat dinner, and return to their campsite below to go to sleep, minus Stella and Marcus, wink. And unfortunately, also minus Chad and Gemma.

Please skip the next paragraph if you need to as there is a sensitive issue in this section of the book, but please know no details are provided in our summary.

Later, Gemma wakes Imani, crying. She has been sexually assaulted by Chad but now that she's made it to Imani, Mercury and Karen, she knows she's safe. Imani and Karen get her cleaned up while Mercury goes off in search of him. Gemma told the ladies that Chad had been secretly gathering supplies and was going to steal Marcus's jeep and together he and Gemma would run away together. Mercury is putting a stop to that plan right now. She finds Chad, who tells her Gemma was asking for what he did to her by dancing during the ritual. Nope. She knocks him out and ties him to a tree at the top of the cliff. The next morning, Mercury confers with Imani, Karen and Stella, and Marcus and Gemma too, then throws Chad off the cliff to his death. Rape is not allowed in their new world and everyone who matters agrees.

Not long after this, the group from Timberline arrives. There are more than twenty of them, mostly women including Doc Hilary and Jenny, and four men. Mercury immediately explains about Chad and the rules they have made for their new world. Basically they boil down to one important one: be compassionate and kind to one another, but Mercury, Stella, Imani and Karen will ultimately decide what is right if disagreements arise. Mercury gives the group until the morning to decide if they will stay or go and offers them provisions if they want to leave, and a recommendation to avoid Madras, and then they all unpack and enjoy a nice dinner and much needed rest. Only one man decides to leave the next day, so they set him up with some necessities and he departs.

Mercury, Stella, Imani, Karen and Gemma chat with Doc Hilary and Jenny and learn that not all the Timberline women have been exposed to the mist and there are a few who were but their blood cannot make plants grow, though, like Karen, they are enhanced in other ways. Karen admits that she can see the spirit world and Jenny says that plants grow really well for her and says another woman is a fantastic baker, another is an excellent seamstress and another is a potter. Doc Hilary can heal somewhat like Gemma, though she's better at healing the mind, which is very important. They also discuss the LGBTQIA community and Stella's gut confirms that the mist enhances people spiritually and magickly, not biologically, which is remarkable. Meanwhile, Fucking Al Rutland decides he’s going to go back to Mitchell to wait out the teachers and Eva thinks he’s obsessed, which he definitely is. She has plans to scavenge small towns and he has plans to scavenge teachers, so they’ll meet back up later.

After everyone is settled, Mercury and Stella decide to take a trip back into Mitchell to grab the rocking chairs and the rafts. Gemma wants to come, too, but she's healed Marcus's leg completely plus two of the people from Timberline, so the adults decide she needs to stay back and rest. Georgie comes up and wants to go, too, so Mercury and Stella promise a girls' trip the next time they go. Georgie is placated, Gemma is not. Gemma decides she's going to sneak off and start feeding the goats so they'll be able to gather them another time and bring them home and takes Georgie with her. They lie to Karen about going to gather more clay and drive off in a utility vehicle the group brought from Timberline. They find the goats and start feeding them, but then Eva and her cronies drive up. They try to take the girls with them back to Madras, but they both know better so they run. Unfortunately, Georgie gets kidnapped and Gemma gets knocked off the edge of a ravine and is left for dead.

In Mitchell, Stella and Mercury gather their supplies, plus more wine because they definitely need it, and plan to return later for even more good stuff, but then Stella has a bad feeling and tells Mercury they need to leave, fast. As they're driving away from Mitchell, Al Fucking Rutland shows up and chases them down in one of Eva's SUVs which is much newer and faster than Stella and Mercury's old truck, but they don't realize who it is that is after them. Just as he's gaining on them, Mercury spots a satyr-like man rush into the side of the SUV, knocking it over, then running off and turning into an eagle. She knows it's Ford and that he's just saved their lives, but what the fuck?! Stella suggests that Mercury meet with Ford and invite him to finally reveal himself. Stella knows with her intuition that everyone in their group will accept him, just not immediately. They get back to their home to find everyone freaking out looking for Gemma and Georgie, so they join in the search.

Eva and Al meet back up, Eva with Georgie and Al with a busted up SUV. They both explain what they did while they were apart, and Al also includes his murder by teacher and resurrection story. He has a brilliant idea to take Georgie back to where they found her and “let her go” so she’ll run back to their camp and Al can follow behind later to finally exact revenge on his precious teachers. In the meantime, Mercury remembers talking to Gemma about the goats and Stella knows that’s where they’ll find her, so they, plus Imani, head out there, and sure enough, they find Gemma… in Ford’s arms. He explains that she’s badly injured and that he couldn’t track Georgie because she was taken away in a vehicle. He tells the women that though Gemma is injured with a serious head wound, their other doctor will be able to save her. They rush off to Doc Hilary, but before they leave, Ford asks Mercury to meet with him later.

Doc Hilary isn’t so sure that she can save Gemma even though she has a strong mental healing ability. When Stella tells Doc Hilary that she knows she can save her, the doctor realizes she can… if she has another dose of the green mist. They work together to find some mist in a creek and Hilary holds Gemma as it washes around them. This is only the second exposure for Hilary, but the third for Gemma, though they all know she will be okay. Hilary focuses on asking the mist to wash away Gemma’s wounds and it works, and Hilary’s okay, too. As they’re heading back to their camp, Gemma tells Mercury that she thinks she’s delirious because Ford saved her and he had horns and hooves. Mercury assures Gemma that she’s perfectly fine.

When they get back to camp, not long after, Imani and one of the Timberline women drive up. They’ve found Georgie! Georgie is worried that Gemma is dead, but no, everyone’s fine. She also mentions Ford and his furryness, and is also okay with it, just like Gemma, and just like everyone else will be. Eventually. Georgie tells them about being with Eva and Al Fucking Rutland, which, uh, what? He's alive? Yes, unfortunately, and Ford told Imani that he was following Georgie but that he would do his best to distract him so they could all get back to their camp safely. Georgie said Al wasn't furry like Ford is, and that he looked like a normal guy, which is interesting considering the last time they saw him he was disgusting and full of bullets. Why is he back? And how? Imani answers that one. He's The Destroyer. Oh shit. Speaking of, Al is pissed, and so are his leeches. He's not surprised that Ford survived since he did, and he's pleased when he realizes that when he kills Ford, and he will, the teachers and the rest of the women will crumple without him because they're just that pathetic.

Mercury meets with Ford later that night and, while she's a little nervous, she knows Ford and isn't afraid of him. They talk about how and why he came back and the same about Al Fucking Rutland. Ford explains he is the personification of The Green Man, the protector of the earth, and Al is his balance, the exact opposite. Ford and Mercury and all their friends chose good while Al and Eva chose evil. They know that Al is coming for them soon so they will move everyone up to the top of the cliff, but Ford promises to keep Al away as long as he can. They kiss then, but don't do anything else, though Mercury kind of wants to but she also kind of needs more time, too. Ford, a perfect if furry gentleman, respects her decision.

The next day, everyone begins moving everything up to the cliff top and Imani starts building the adobe houses while Ford flies around keeping watch in his eagle form. It's exhausting work but it all has to be done. As night draws in, Mercury, Stella, Gemma, Karen and Janet, a Timberline transfer and probably Karen's new bff, rest in the original camp and not up top. Before Mercury goes to see Ford, she checks on Gemma's recovery from her near death experience and her third mist exposure. She's feeling fine and realized she can do something new, which is pretty amazing. Her blood now has the power to return dead plants to life and she wants to test it on a person if someone gets hurt, but you know, no one wants that. Mercury leaves the group then to go see Ford, who tells her not to worry about Al Fucking Rutland for that moment because he's not coming yet and when he does, he will keep her safe. They spend the night enjoying each other's company. Wink.

Unfortunately, Ford accidentally showed Al where they were by flying around the area in his eagle form and then he tracked them to their exact location. He takes a few of Eva's goons to attack. Mercury wakes the next morning, enjoys some coffee and breakfast with her friends, and then Ford rushes up to alert her that Al and his goons with guns are only a few minutes away. There’s no way everyone can get up the clifftop quickly enough, but Stella, Imani, Georgie, Hayden and Cayden rush up there with Khaleesi and Dandy, Imani’s kitten, while Mercury, Gemma, Karen and Janet go to the river and use the rafts. Ford pops two of the rafts and starts loading everyone in when Stella, Imani, the children and the animals join them, unable to take the path to the top of the cliff because of the mist.

Everyone piles into the raft, minus Stella, Mercury and Imani who wear life jackets and float alongside it. Ford pushes them into the river and uses his powers to keep the mist at bay, but then Al and his cronies start shooting at them and Gemma and several of the people who are at the top of the cliff shoot back. It’s a harrowing journey that scares Imani’s kitten who jumps into the river. Imani goes after it and saves it, but gets drawn into the mist again. Ford transforms into a giant salmon and pushes Imani through the mist and back to the raft. He swims away and transforms back into his eagle form. He uses his immense wings to waft the green mist at Al and his men who are dodging bullets that are still coming from the top of the cliff. Al is able to get away but the men are not, but the only way he’s able to escape is by shooting Ford in the wing. Al leaves the puddles of Eva’s goons behind, but instead of returning to Madras and Eva, he goes to collect his scraggly men that he had with him in book one.

Gemma uses her new bleed-on powers on Ford’s arm after he transforms out of eagle form and it works, then the group begins their walk back to their home. They arrive in the evening and Ford is welcomed warmly by everyone. Doc Hilary and Jenny were able to move most of the rest of the important supplies up to the cliff top, so they all head up there to safety. Stella’s intuition tells her that Al won’t be back for a couple of days, so they eat and rest and celebrate their survival. Imani leaves the group to go to her tree like she always does, and when she returns, she has something to share. Her third exposure to the mist has given her a greater ability to connect with nature, and she tells the others that Grandmother Cedar took her in, like, her consciousness was inside the tree. She learned things but hasn’t quite processed everything just yet. Karen chimes in and shares that with her ability to connect with spirits, she knows that the earth is happy with them and how they’re handling the apocalypse, which is a very good thing.

Al and his scraggly men get to Madras. Eva is curious as to why Al’s precious teachers aren’t with him, but he explains everything that happened and why he brought the men he has now with him. They plan on attacking the teachers and their clifftop very soon, and want to bring Mercury and Ford back alive, but they don’t really care about anyone else. Stella and Mercury know about the impending attack, so they prepare everyone on the cliff. They begin creating barricades and move boulders to the edge of the cliff so they can hide behind them and shoot. Mercury notices that Imani is not looking so good and plans to talk to her later, and also suggests that they keep making adobe bricks. Stella confirms all this to be a good plan and lets everyone know that they should be safe because there’s only one path up to their settlement.

The attack happens at dawn the next day. Al and Eva bring around fifty men with them and they pretty much all have weapons. Mercury, Stella, Marcus, Imani and Ford stay at the cliff edge to face them while everyone else shelters behind them. Al shouts up with a bullhorn for them to surrender and Mercury shouts down with her super-strengthened voice that they won’t. Then one of Al’s goons shoots up at them with a grenade launcher. Shit, that’s not going to be good. The group makes a plan to attack, but Imani stops them with a better, but more terrifying idea.

The earth has told Imani that the only way they will win this war is if they throw down all their weapons, which they do. Al thinks they’re surrendering, but of course they are not. Imani, Mercury, Stella, Karen and Gemma gather buckets with water from their pool and knives and move to the edge. Everyone else stands behind them, hands held, and they all begin to chant, the air the fire the water the earth awake, awake, awake, awake, while the twin boys play the drums. The women slice their wrists and plunge them into their water buckets, claim their gifts from the earth, Mercury her warrior gifts, Stella her sight, Imani the mystic, Gemma her healing and Karen her spirit, then pour the water off the edge of the cliff. As the men below begin to shoot at them, thorny vines burst from the ground and impale them and the mist swoops in and washes over any men who try to run away.

Though all their men are dead, Al and Eva refuse to give up. Eva unhinges her jaw and lets loose a huge cloud of mosquitoes that swarm to her and carry her up to the top of the cliff while Al and his leeches slither up the side. Eva’s swarm begins to attack everyone, but Stella tells Mercury to go to their garden and gather up all their citronella, lavender and marigolds. Mercury returns and opens her wound, spilling blood on the insect-repelling plants. She tackles Eva, drops the bloody plants on her and commands them to grow. The plants kill the swarm and drag Eva’s lifeless body underground. Al meanwhile has slithered up the side and has unleashed his leeches on them. Imani runs off while her friends are attacked, but she returns shortly with a giant bag of salt. She commands Ford hold Al down and Mercury hold his mouth open, which they do, all while being attacked. Imani then pours the salt into Al’s maw, killing him and all his leeches. When he dies, it begins to rain, and everyone who was attacked by Al is healed.

The next morning, the core four, Mercury, Stella, Imani and Karen take in their new world and thank Grandmother Cedar and the earth for caring for them. They promise to protect their new world and do better than mankind that came before them. They then move over to study the wall of thorns that surrounds them. Imani tests a theory that she has, that anyone who means no harm will be able to pass safely through the barrier, and she’s right, which is good because Martina, the woman who escaped from Madras, arrives then. She tells the women that she was somehow drawn to them and they invite her to walk through the thorns and join them. She and her horse walk right through and Karen takes them off to show them around. The rest of the women believe that more people will be drawn to them, and they will let them in. More bad guys will come, but they know that they will forever be safe as long as they live together in love and laughter and light.

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