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JMH last won the day on December 5 2011

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899 I Make This Look Easy


About JMH

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  1. Why do I feel like I need three keyboards whenever I write a fight/battle scene.

    1. Daddydavek


      A soldier never has enough ammo?

    2. sandrewn


      I am sneaking this in here. Wishing you a Very Happy Birthday!

  2. Final chapter of Book II of the Sole Scion Cycle is now up. I hope you've all enjoyed it so far.

  3. JMH

    Chapter Twenty: Escape

    Chapter Twenty: Escape As a result of his clandestine research Ray had learned many of NET’s most guarded secrets. He now knew the origins of Blue, how it was rediscovered, and how it was now being mass produced. He also learned that Blue was one of many substances produced by a Neo core’s… all of which were classified as being one of many animas. There was the Blue giver of great strength, the White and its soothing healing properties, the Purple, which like the Nano’s would cause the body to mutate in either in a divine or demonic fashion. Then there was the Red… the rarest of all anima. It was the giver of long life. Each had their strengths and weakness. It was the weaknesses that the NSP research division had focused almost all their resources on removing. Their first breakthrough came when they discovered that by intermarrying with the people of Earth those Neos who would have died at the age of forty could live a long and normal lifespan. There was however one problem that the NSP’s best scientist could not resolve and that was the drug was highly addictive. Limiting the mutating effects of Purple anima involved preforming a series of complex calculations where body mass, metabolism, and neural brain chemistry that resulted in formulating the exact amounts needing to be used. The benefits of the resulting formula would extend a person’s life as well as their youth and good health. There was one problem though. While the oldest records make no mention of it, those who ingested the drug would either go mad, or develop a form of blood poisoning that, while not fatal to the person who took the drug, would kill anyone else who came in contact with it. While the drug did what Ray needed it to do, the negative side effects were not worth the risk. That left Red, the rarest of all animas. Because of its extreme rarity very little research had been done on the drug itself. Instead the research division had focused their efforts on counteracting the only major negative side effect. The drug did everything Ray need to keep Daniel young and alive for as long a thousand years. The negative aspects of the drug however were considerable. First, as the drug was highly unstable, it needed to be consumed almost as soon as it was produced. Collecting it however required cutting out the core of a natural producer. He knew Daniel would never go along with something akin to human sacrifice. Ray wouldn’t love him if he did. The other negative problem with the Red was that it caused profound cases of hemophilia in those who took the drug. As Daniel was already a hemophiliac, a fact that Ray was already sick with worry about, the only known means of stopping the uncontrolled bleeding were ever increasing doses of Blue. Taking so much Blue would result in the worse sort of addiction. The person who not only need massive amounts of the drug to counter the hemophilia but also they would need to constantly take the Blue just to avoid the negative effects of withdrawal… which including body wasting, narcolepsy, and eventually ending up in a coma. There were some surviving records which described the God Emperor’s own addiction and while they all said he had found a way to be cured they said nothing on how he managed to do it. Ray was deep in his thoughts working on his research when he saw his security bracelet flash. It seemed someone wanted to meet him in private. He was to come alone and not tell anyone where he was going. Ray found the precautions amusing… so cloak and dagger. Still it got him curious. Instead of telling him exactly where to meet he was instructed to follow the directions provided by the bracelet’s internal compass. Before he left he gave Daniel a quick peck on the check. He was certain he would be back before his lover woke up so he didn’t bother leaving a note. After an hour of walking he began to wish he had. The compass sent him down to the abandoned lower levels. Usually he wouldn’t even try to enter the forbidden sectors of the complex. No one was supposed to come down here after all. The last people who had gone down to the Vault had gone to stop the person who had succeed in breaking in. It was not until he reached the very bottom that the compass went still. Ahead of him, past a thick vault-like door he could hear the sound of sparking electricity and whirling generators. Carefully he tiptoed to the door and peered inside. “Hello… anyone in there?” “We are here.” Ray had heard that voice before but he could not put a name on it. There was something artificial about. It came across as being more flat than that of the stoic Bionoids. “And exactly who are you?” “We are Logan.” Ray arched an eyebrow. “We are… and aren’t you supposed to be dead? Don’t tell me you’re his evil twin brother.” “I am one of many Logans who were built by our creators to serve the God Emperor and all those who were to follow.” “Okay…” Ray didn’t understand any what this one of many Logan’s had said. Still he was not scared. He stepped all the way inside the room. He quickly saw Logan. He was dressed in what looked like a space suit. He stood between to metallic pillars, each around ten yards high and twenty yards apart. Between them the air fluctuated and curved. Ray could only assume it had to be the legendary Gate. Wasn’t the reason the Captain had to kill Logan was to stop him from using this very device. “Uhmmm… what are you doing.” “I am calibrating the Gate so it will take me to my destination so I can complete my mission.” “Take you where and what is your mission.” “I am attempting to connect this gate to the one in the holy city of Mordel.” “Isn’t that supposed to be where the God Emperor is entomb. I thought it was nothing but a myth.” “It exists… or at least it once did. The location of the city was lost soon after the people of Ares landed on this world.” Ray removed Logan’s helmet and placed it on the ground. “How can you lose an entire city?” “Because it is hard to remember a city when you have no means of visiting,” The Logan Cybernoid replied. “You must have been able to reach it at one time or else how did it get built.” “It was not built on this world but Ares. The city disappeared thousands of years ago not on Earth but on the world you call Mars.” “I guess in the bronze age you were a little short of space ships.” Ray replied. “We were.” Logan slumped his shoulders as if the android felt defeated. Ray looked into Logan’s brown eyes trying to see if he could find the camera. “If you don’t know where the city is then how will you find its Gate?” “The answer can be found with the simple use of logic.” Logan replied. “And?” “I will not find it.” The android fell down to his knees. “I have tried every means I know and yet I have failed to find it.” For an emotionless android he sounded very depressed. “I need your help.” “I don’t know what I can do to help but I’ll try. First answer me this… why should I help you?” “Because I must fulfill my mission.” “I understand you want to get to this lost city of yours but you haven’t told me why?” Ray felt the need to point out. “I wish to ask God why.” Great an esoteric robot. I have my work cut out for me. Ray thought to himself “Why what?” “Why he has not returned to us? Why has he forsaken his people? Have we in some way angered him?” “I do not know what to say. I’m not a priest.” “Julian Lordon was our High Priest but he has long lost god’s path.” Ray couldn’t agree more. “Lordon is a power crazed madman. No one should listen to him.” “Does God listen to you?” “I can’t say he does. Back to what you want to ask him… why do you think he would be mad at you?” “Because we failed to protect his children. Some among us even took part in their killing. What father would not hate his children’s murderers?” “Are all the children dead?” “I do not know. The one you first knew as Logan believed he found one but his programing had long become corrupted.” “I guess there’s no point asking him where one is. He’s dead… or is the proper term deactivated?” Ray asked. “He is not. The one your people deactivated was a different model. He let himself be destroyed so my brothers could continue on with their mission without further interference.” Ray couldn’t help but laugh at the depressed robot. “Well you just ruined that secret. Back to what you said. You said the Logan I knew escaped. Where did he go?” “He did not escape… he was sent into exile. His programing had been irreversible corrupted. While we can self-deactivate our programing forbids us from permanently deactivating one our own kind. We therefore sent him where he could do no further harm.” “Which is where?” “We sent him to the Gate known as the Eye.” Ray’s eyes went wide. “The Eye! I’ve been there. You might as well have deactivated him because he won’t survive one minute there.” The horrors he had his father had endured why escaping from Azrael still haunted Ray. “Well it’s been nice talking to you. Good luck finding whatever you were looking for. Bye…” Android or not, Ray wanted nothing to do with the Eye. “Don’t go. Please don’t go. I don’t… I don’t want to be alone.” The sadness in the android’s voice stopped Ray in his tracks. “I see. I didn’t know an android could feel lonely.” “I was design to serve but with no one here there is no one to serve.” Ray suspected the robot was more trouble than he was worth but he couldn’t just abandon it. “You could come back with me.” “Will I be able to serve you?” “I think I can come up with a few chores you can do. But look… your malfunctioning brother did not leave a good impression. What I mean to say it that they might try to kill… I mean deactivate you.” “We have done nothing wrong. The authorities cannot hold us responsible for the actions of a malfunctioning unit.” Ray rolled his eyes. “The one you hung out to dry didn’t do so well.” “His mission was to protect the Scions. Self-preservation is a low priority objective.” “Well that’s going to change. From now on self-preservation is to be categorized as high priority. Keeping me alive is your top priority.” A red beam of light from the android’s left eye scanned Ray. “Your orders are contradictory. They are no logical. They can’t be obeyed.” Ray frowned and looked back at the Cybernoid. “Can’t be obeyed? What is illogical about keeping me alive?” “You are not alive.” “What did you say?” Ray felt his heart sink. “You are not alive. I cannot keep alive that which is not.” “I am most certainly alive!” Ray shouted as he stomped towards Logan. “You do not fit the basic requirements to be defined as a living organism,” Logan said as if what he had said about Ray not being alive was completely reasonable. “And what parts, of what I am sure is your limited narrow minded raciest definition, do I not fit.” Logan raised a finger as he went down the list. “You are neither a single cellular or multicellular organism. You do not have the ability to reproduce. You lack any genetic material, you cannot evolve. Without these things you are like me, a machine.” “You take that back!” Ray shouted. “I cannot take back that which I’ve already said. To do so would be illogical.” “Fine… if that’s how you’re going to treat me you can stay here and rot… I mean rust.” Ray headed toward the exit. “Please… please don’t leave us here alone.” “For someone who’s desperate for company you don’t know how to treat people right.” “Please.” Logan begged. “Alright… but if anyone asks if I am alive or not you will reply in the confirmative.” “That would be a lie.” “You’re telling you can’t lie.” “We can but only when it will aid in the completion of our mission.” “Then let me give you a new mission. From now on your only priority is to keep me happy and it would make me really happy if you were to tell people who ask that I am indeed alive.” “Mission accepted.” As they made their way back to the habitual levels Ray had time to text Daniel and let him know what was up. From his reply Daniel wasn’t amused but he said he would do what he could so the guards wouldn’t destroy them both on sight. Just thinking on what Daniel would do to him when Ray got back sent a shudder down Ray’s spine. “What is the matter? Are you not happy?” Logan had noticed the sour expression on Ray’s face. “I’m happy… I’ll be very happy if Daniel doesn’t beat me to a pulp. Did I tell you he’s known to do that to boyfriends who piss him off?” It wasn’t a fair statement. Poor Albert had deserved what he got. Ray didn’t think sneaking off in the middle night risking his life going down to the forbidden levels came anywhere close to what the Major did. At the very least one of them will be spending extra-long nights in the lab. Daniel and at least two platoons of security personnel met them just outside the restricted levels. The frown on his face proved his wasn’t please. When Daniel raced over to Ray and hugged him tightly, Ray became less fearful of a beating and more eager to make up scaring Daniel under the bed sheets. The arrival of another Logan was not so well received. After trying to cuff, chain, and collar the robotic giant, Ray gave the lump of titanium a list of new orders, each was preface: it would really make me happy if you…” By the time Ray convinced Logan allowed himself to be taken away Daniel looked ready to explode with the giggles. “Don’t you dare laugh?” Ray demanded even though he was already laughing himself. “I’m not laughing.” Daniel insisted thought it was clear he was already giggling. “Sorry I just find it so cute… It’s like you’re trying to teach a giant two year old proper manners.” Ray leaned against a nearby wall. “And failing miserably at it. I hope you’re not still angry about me sneaking off.” Ray let out a deep sigh. “I was not so much mad as I was upset. You had no business going down there.” “I know. Do you forgive me?” Ray fluttered his eyelashes knowing it would annoy Daniel as much as it would amuse him. Getting Daniel to focus on a less serious reason to be angry worked more times than not. “Don’t do that.” “Do this?” Ray puckered up his lips like a fish. “Don’t.” “How about this?” Ray walked ahead, swishing his hips as he held up a limp hand. Daniel might be have his moments where he would get over emotional, become oversensitive, or swoon over a hot guy he liked like a love sick teenager but outside those moments he acted no different than a college quarterback who also happened to be a brainiac. It was among Daniel’s few prejudices that he could not stand hanging around someone acting like a flaming queen. He also didn’t see the entertainment value of watching a drag queen lip sync. One of the worst brawls he and Andrew had ever gotten into was when Andrew dressed himself up in high heels, fishnet stockings, a yellow leather miniskirt, with a beehive wig and tons of makeup and told Daniel he wanted him to fuck his wet pussy. Each ended up with a black eye as a result. “I don’t see why you get so upset when I get all femininely,” Ray giggled. “Men are supposed to act like men and women… well I haven’t seen one in ages but that’s probably a good thing.” Soon after Daniel went back to live with Andrew and his father the government passed a law which required the separation of the sexes. This was supposed to help eliminate the spread of the plague but Daniel also suspected it was another means by which the NSP would increase their numbers. You sexist pig.” Ray elbowed Daniel in the ribs. “Seriously you need to open your horizons a bit. Would you have still fallen in love with me if I decided to be a woman? I can do that you know.” “Don’t you dare! I like you just the way you are.” “You like me even better with my cock up your ass.” He gave Daniel’s rear a hard slap. “Anyway it would do you some good to not get so uptight around more effeminate men. At the very least it would make getting along with the Greys easier. You do know they’re fully equipped.” Daniel could not help but laugh at that comment. “Fully equipped? I never thought of it that way. It’s not like Al let me experience that side of him.” “Don’t lie I know you did. By the way I’ve done some research…” “I take it I’m going to get an earful of your ‘research’ aren’t I?” Daniel asked. Ray wrapped an arm around Daniel’s shoulder while they continued to walk. “You need to listen. You might find it useful. What I discovered that men are far more likely to be physically violent toward other men than women among themselves. When it comes to being emotionally sadistic women are far crueler to each other in that regard. Think of it this way… men are brutal… women are, well, in the case of Al, are just cruel.” “Which is why I will take a good beating then deal with someone’s sadistic mind games any day,” Daniel replied. “Don’t say things you know nothing about.” Ray chided “I only meant it as a joke.” Daniel didn’t know what had soured Ray’s mood but he knew he had stepped on a land mine he didn’t want to set off.” “I know. Just take my word for it that I’ve seen people suffering the worst kind of abuse. It doesn’t matter what kind it is… no one should be made to endure it.” Daniel took hold of Ray’s hand and squeezed it. He didn’t know what else he could do that wouldn’t make things worse. Ray rested his head on Daniel’s shoulder. “Look, I didn’t mean to put you on the spot. It’s my fault really. I tried so hard to keep you distracted from why you might be angry with me that I ended up getting this prissy,” Ray said. “We can both deal with it when we get back in the apartment where we belong,” Daniel promised. “Top or bottom.” Ray asked excitedly. Daniel slapped Ray’s hand away from his ass. “I’m most certainly going to be the one who’s going to end up on top.” “Who am I to say no to a hot, horny and very determined ass pounder?” “When you are the one who wants to do the pounding,” Daniel said matter-of-factly. “Touché.” Ray took hold of Daniel’s hand and gave it a hard squeeze. ____________________________________________________________________________ While Daniel had tried to get Clive moved out of solitary the powers that be weren’t going to let bygones be bygones. Even after the Major tested positive for the Plague the Praetor was not going to let Daniel off the hook so easily. The arrival of another Logan android however left them no choice to move Clive out so the Logan Cybernoid could be held in the high security cell. That did not mean he was sent back to Daniel’s department. Instead they transferred him to psi-research and development department. Clive wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of being used as a test dummy while inexperience and untrained young Greys using him to hone their telepathic abilities. It could have been worse. They could have sent him to Richard ‘The Butcher’ Grey and his slaughterhouse of horror. The bastard claim that vivisecting all his specimens was necessary for him to research how to improve a Neo’s core but every section head knew the sadistic bastard enjoyed it. With the Major gone Colonel Richard Grey was next in line as Daniel’s arch-nemesis. It didn’t help that the Butcher’s outranked Daniel which allowed him to greatly interfere with Daniel’s own research. As Captain Sidney Grey, head of the psi research department, shared space with the Butcher, when Daniel learned where Clive had been sent… he nearly went into apoplectic shock. “We have to get him out of there.” He told Ray when he came back to his lab after finding out where Clive and ended up. “You could ask the Captain to sign Clive over to you.” Ray replied. He would not let himself get as panicked as Daniel. “I can ask as nicely as I can and the powers that be won’t allow it. Damn… you know Richard won’t miss an opportunity to cut him open.” ‘I think you are being overdramatic. Clive is NET’s most prized specimen. Say what you will about the Prelate but you can’t make me believe he would sit on his hands while his son’s core is ripped from him.” “If that were the case why did the Prelate allow his son become a lab rat in the first place?” Ray didn’t have a good answer for that one. “Uhmmm… probably because Clive still swears he will kill him if he ever gets the chance.” Ray saw what he had said so far had not convinced Daniel. “You might think you know Clive but I’ll bet my ass that you don’t know him as well as you think.” “And you do?” “I’m sure I know more about him than you do.” “Like what.” “Like the fact that Clive has known no other kind of life than that of a lab rat.” “He was born one?” “Pretty much. You would hate your father too if ….” Ray snapped his mouth shut. He had done it again. He had brought up Daniel’s father and suggested he was capably of hating him. Couldn’t get any worse than that. When Daniel stormed off he tried to stop him. “Look I’m sorry. I really put my foot in my mouth this time.” “It’s not your fault.” Daniel replied coldly. “Oh yes it is.” Daniel turned around and let Ray see how fast his face had turned red with rage. “No, it’s not! I’m the one who has a mental breakdown whenever anyone hints they might be talking about him. I need to toughen up and get over it.” “I love you just the way you are babe.” Ray let his hands wrap around Daniel’s narrow waist. He rocked them while he waited for Daniel to get a control of his anger.” Like always Daniel relax in the man’s arms. “I’m such a bad boyfriend.” “No you’re not… you will always be perfect for me,” Ray replied. “Now you’re poking fun.” Ray turned Daniel around and kissed him until both were short of breathe. “I mean it. Whatever happens I’ll always love you.” “You’re too good to me.” Daniel whispered. “Maybe you should remember that when you take me out on our first date.” Daniel let out a deep sigh. “Not that again.” “Come on you owe me.” “We’re a half mile underground… it is not like this is Paris. First of all where would we go?” “I’ll get back to you on that.” Ray said. Hearing someone call out his name Ray left Daniel with a questioning look on his face. Daniel shook his head he couldn’t understand why Ray was so hung up on them trying to have what would pass as a normal relationship when there was nothing normal about it. Deep down he knew he had just given himself the exact reason. Ray had never known a normal life. He had not even known what it was like to be human, let alone be in love with one until recently. Ray deserved a chance to experience some sort of normality. As nervous as he was, Daniel knew he was the only one capable of giving it to him. After checking his watch Daniel poked his head inside the main lab and said; “Look, I’m going to be out of the lab for a while. Think you can keep an eye on things while I’m gone?” One of the techs could not help but laugh. “Hon… you have us so well trained I don’t think even a nuclear reactor leak could put us behind schedule.” “Then I’ll leave it in your very capable hands.” Seeing Ray’s worried frown he gave him a quick peck on the cheek before leaving. If Ray wanted to go out on a date… a real date, then there was only one man with the authority to make that possible. As Daniel waited for the express elevator, he typed out a half dozen short text messages. He hoped the recipients took the messages seriously. From the sub-levels he rode the elevator up to the top of the mountain. As the elevator shot up the shaft he looked up at the security camera and waved. On his hand he had scribbled a short message: ‘We need to talk’. He was sure whoever was in charge of keeping an eye on him today would pass the message along to the proper person. Once out of the first elevator Daniel walked to a richly furnished waiting room and sat himself down in the only available chair. As had been the case when he lived on the Labatt Estate, the fancier the chair the more uncomfortable it was bound to be. Unfortunately they were all fancy. With his nerves already running high he ended up pacing up and down and constantly checking his wrist for the time. When his name was finally called Daniel let out a high pitched squeak that drew every eye in the room towards him. If he had one he would have put a bag over his head just so he didn’t have to see their smirks and finger pointing. What made it worse was that he stuck out like a sore thumb as he was the only person on the entire floor who did not have red hair. He could practically hear their snide comment about the stupidity of Norms. When the elevator doors that would take him to the Praetor’s office finally closed Daniel finally felt he could breathe. He was an idiot trying for coming up here. People like him… Norms… shouldn’t dare think they could ask the feared leader of NET for a personal favor. Not when he was seen as genetically inferior. They would laugh and joke about it for months… stupid monkey asks one of the most powerful man in the world permission to take his silly boyfriend out on a date. Not going to happen. Still he was inside an elevator taking him all the way to the top. Either the Praetor was actually curious about what he had to say or was planning to throw him off the top of the mountain as a lesson to others. When the elevators stopped Daniel didn’t automatically step out. He was certain he was on the wrong floor. He had only been allowed to visit the executive floors once… and that was so he could be used in a photo op to celebrate his discovery of the Nano particles that caused the Plague. As quickly as the photo was taken he was ushered out of the Praetor’s presence and back to the sub-levels where he rightly belonged. Where the elevator had stopped did not look anything like what he saw the only time he had entered the executive elevator. Instead of rows of desk and offices he found himself in what looked like the foray of one of the New York townhouse mansions his mother had dragged him to back before his stepfather had abandoned them. The floor was covered by a checker-board pattern of green and red marble tiles. In the center of the grand entry was the radiating golden sun emblem of the NSP. On the left and right sides of the x-shape chamber were more elevators. In the center of the entry was a grand staircase that one could climb to reach any of the six floors that Daniel could see above him. Feeling just as out of place as he had when his mother forced him to visit such places he kept his hands tightly behind his back and looked for an empty corner to sulk in. “Now is that any way to act when one has been invited to a man’s house.” The voice did not come from any part of the house. It was transmitted directly into Daniel’s mind. Daniel hated it when a Grey wouldn’t show him enough respect and force their thoughts on him like this. Feeling his temper rise he bit on his tongue, hoping the pain would divert his emotions away from being peeved. “Now, now Dr. Winters. We all have our foibles. The best thing to do is not let them get the better of us. Don’t you think?” From out of nowhere the Praetor shimmer into sight not even three feet from where Daniel stood in his corner. “Come… don’t’ be shy.” The Praetor offered him a guiding hand. Daniel knew better than not to take it. “That’s it… see I don’t bite.” Though Daniel was terribly nervous in the man’s presence he didn’t think he needed to be talked to like a frightened child. “But you are frightened…” Praetor had continued to read Daniel’s thoughts. “…any sensible man would be. I’ve done many terrible things for the pettiest of reasons. You however have no reason to think I will harm you. You are my brightest star.” He reached to pat Daniel on the check. It took an incredible amount of self-control for Daniel not to flinch at the man’s touch. “You really are that scared of me…” For a brief moment the Praetor frowned but quickly went back to smiling. “Come… we’ve prepared lunch.” “Lunch sir?” “You know the meal between breakfast and dinner. I am certain you know what lunch is.” “I do sir and I was most fortunate in being allowed to enjoy one regularly growing up.” Unlike most unprivileged Norms living in the New York Ark who were lucky to eat just one meal a day, Daniel had been allowed to enjoy all three meals since he had moved back in with the Labatts. Since his imprisonment however he had been allowed only two. That was still twice as many meals as most Norms got. “Times are indeed hard… the people have been forced to tighten their belts. Like you.” “Sir…” “I’ve read your file… back when you lived with your mother you were lucky to get more than dried cereal.” Daniel could not stop his back from shuddering when he was reminded of his early childhood. “I would rather not remember those days.” “You should… you need to look back on where you once were and be proud how far you’ve come.” The Praetor gave Daniel’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze. The man seems to know more about me than I thought…..probably more than is good for me. As he was led through the house Daniel tried to gather his wits. Something was very wrong about all this. The Praetor was not known for his kindheartedness. So why was he treating him with kid gloves. It didn’t make sense. The only thing Daniel was certain of was that displays unexpected kindness always came with a price. Whatever the price Daniel knew he would not be left in a position where he could avoid paying for it. The first hint of what that price would be was waiting for them at lunch. The man standing at the table was of course a Grey. He looked about five years his senior but Daniel knew age and appearance among the Grey were distant relatives. By the single stars on each shoulder the man had to be a brigadier general. Before Daniel could sit down far away from everyone else, the Grey officer pulled out a different chair and held out a hand. “I would be most honored to have you sit next to me.” Daniel felt his gut twist into double knots. So that’s what this is about. The Praetor wants me to become friendly with the good Brigadier. More than friendly. God Ray… what have I done. I don’t understand how this is happening so fast. It’s as if the Praetor knew I would ask to see him weeks before I decided I would. Daniel only needed to look at Praetor’s short wavy red hair to understand how the man knew. The idea to ask to speak with the Praetor had not been his own but had been implanted in his head by one of the Praetor’s telepathic agents. It has to be one of the people working for me in the lab. “Is everything all right?” The brigadier saw the tears building in his eye and thought he had done something to cause them. “If I’ve offended you in some way I…” The Praetor started laughing softly to himself. Don’t’ worry... he’s just not used to such kindness from our kind. Those are tears of joy are they not Lieutenant?” Daniel felt his head being forced to nod. “See he’s speechless.” Daniel could not see but he felt the general’s peevish glower on him. “I hope one day for you to become more accustomed to the finer things in life. I also hope you will become accustomed to me as well.” Daniel wanted to scream but the Praetor’s had wrapped his angry under a wet mental blanket. Seeing a servant arriving with a silver soup bowl Thomas clapped his hands excitedly. “Ah here comes the first course -truffle soup. I suggest we take the time to enjoy its rich flavor. With most of France under ice… it will not be long before wild French truffles be unobtainable.” “Can they not be farmed?” The general asked. “They can but they lack the subtle flavors one can only explore with the wild variety.” The brigadier turned his attention back on Daniel. “It is quite delicious… don’t you think dear.” How dare he? He’s already talking like we’ve been married for years. Daniel wanted to tell the man were he could stuff his truffles but the blanket’s cold hold left him only diluted how he really felt. If he could not break the Praetor’s grip with direct force he had to change tactics. “I never tasted anything like it.” “See… even a Norm is capable of enjoying the finer things in life.” The general replied. “We are not all cut from the same cloth.” Daniel said. That should please the bastard. “He most certainly isn’t,” the general agreed. Daniel felt the Brigadier slide a hand under the table and placed it on his inner thigh. The Praetor beamed at the pair. “I do not have to tell you how proud we are of him. He’s only been working for us for little over a year and he’s already found a way of hunting down the Sleepers hiding among us.” “That is quite an accomplishment. Those monsters are the greater threat to humanity than those mongrel Sino-Russians.” The Praetor lifted his wine glass up to a beam of sunlight checking its clarity. “Once we’ve removed the chafe from the wheat… we can turn our full attention on dealing with the Russians and Chinese.” He stuck his nose into the glass and took a generous sniff. “My nose tells me you will enjoy the wine as much as the truffles.’” The Brigadier nodded. “The wine is indeed excellent. But what of Mars? We cannot let the Martians continue to think they can be independent of Earth.” The Praetor lowered his glass and leaned back in the chair. “Mars is another matter. The colonial government has been spending half their tax revenue building up the Martian Fleet. We could more easily build one capable to smash it to pieces but then what? We’ll have lost who knows how many ships with twice as many too damaged to return to Earth. We could bomb the domes but the Colonies were built by the mining industry and they’ve had plenty of time to dig in deep. I hate to say it but bringing the Martians back into the fold isn’t worth the cost or effort.” The Praetor took a second sip of his wine. “But they mock us.” The general replied. “They might publically mock us but behind closed doors they fear us. They know that if we really set out minds to it we could wipe them all out. Don’t you agree Dr. Winters?” The question caught Daniel off guard. They seemed so interested in their little debate he didn’t think they would ask for him to put in his two-cents. “I would actually like to visit Mars.” “Really?” The Brigadier looked at him with new interest. “Yes. I think I could do a lot of good there.” Daniel replied with more eagerness. “How so.” Daniel saw the Praetor’s lips curl inward, leaving him with a thin flat smile. He didn’t know if that was a good sign but he didn’t think he would stop him from answering. “There is the immunity factor.” “I thought your specialty was working on Sleeper… sorry Nano research.” The Praetor corrected himself if only grudgingly. “The Nanos are nothing but machines… microscopic in size and able to self-replicate but in of themselves there’s nothing sinister about them. Given enough time and resources they could be reengineered to serve all sorts of useful purposes… such as fight off disease in people who have no immune system.” Daniel said. The idea of using the Nanos as a form of medical treatment was one of the first possibilities Daniel had been working on since his discovery of the source of the plague. It was a subject he was very excited to start exploring. “Is such a thing possible?” The general asked the Praetor. Daniel felt the telepaths hold on him weaken. Before the Praetor could reposed he said; “Yes it is. It is very possible.” “You are quite the noble thinker.” The Praetor replied with the gracious tone as if he was impressed. Instead of looking angry that Daniel had dared to cut him off he looked surprisingly pleased. “Of course dealing with the Nano infestation on Earth must come first.” “Oh yes… Earth must always come first. The general stood, raised glass in hand. “A toast… to Earth and the better future you will help create my dear doctor.” Daniel could feel the Praetor force his hand toward his wine glass. At first he fought not to take it. Sometimes the direct approach is not the best. Before he could think better of it… and before the Praetor could react. He grabbed the glass, stood and threw it right into the general’s face. “What the hell!” the general shouted. “Sorry general. Nervous tick.” Daniel said as he jumped out of his chair Whatever hold the Praetor had over him had been broken. “I seem to have offended our guest. I must excuse myself before causing further insult.” Before he could turn around the brigadier had an iron hold of his left wrist. “You aren’t going anywhere.” The Praetor stood. “Oh do calm down. I’m certain he didn’t mean anything by it. You know Norms… completely unable to act in a civilized manner.” “Then I will just have to teach him how to behave in front of his betters.” The general ripped off his belt so he could teach his would be fiancé with a harsh whipping. “You will do no such thing.” Daniel slammed his heel down on the man’s boot. The man let go, not because he had actually been hurt but because he hadn’t expected Daniel to fight back. The Praetor burst out laughing. “I told you he was a wild one.” The General wrapped his arm around Daniel’s neck and held him in a tight head lock. “Just the way I like them.” The man ran his tongue up Daniel’s face. “Be careful what you ask for,” Daniel warned. Dropping his back forward he flipped the soldier over his head and onto the table. Glass and fine antique china went flying. “Now this is getting to be too much.” It had been fun at first but the general didn’t care for how things were turning out. He attempted to roll off the table but Daniel didn’t give him the chance. With strength he never knew he possessed he flipped the entire table over hoping to trap the general beneath it long enough for him to escape. That was what Daniel had intended at least. Instead of just tipping over the entire table flew through the bay windows and out to the other side. When Daniel couldn’t find the general he went to the smashed windows and looked out. There was no balcony, no edge. There was nothing but a flat drop down a crevice that went straight down a good two hundred yards. “What… what have I done.” Daniel forced himself from the edge. He had just killed a man. The temper he had never been able to control had now cost a man his life. “What have I done?” The Praetor clapped his hands together and walked towards Daniel. “You did exactly what you needed to do.” For a man who had just witness his guest being murdered the Praetor looked quite pleased. The Praetor had never intended Daniel for that pompous lout. He had only invited the man to intentionally goad his grandson into using his abilities. He knew if he pushed hard enough Daniel’s latent psi power would manifest itself. Having achieved that Thomas could not be happier. Daniel felt his face go cold. “No I didn’t… I didn’t want this. All I wanted was to spend one day outside with the man who loves me.” “What about Andrew…has your new love caused you to forget about him?” “No… you don’t understand. You can’t understand. Ray is the only one who lets Andrew and I be together.” Daniel knew he was saying too much, putting him and everyone he cared about in reckless danger but he couldn’t stop himself. Not even when he realized it was the Praetor forcing his confession. He might have told him everything if the Chief Examiner had not chosen that exact moment to return home. “Enough!” With a mere thought he snapped a mental shield around Winters, cutting him off from the Praetor’s control. “What the hell is going on here?” “Just some light entertainment,” Thomas said. Daniel felt the Examiner probe his mind. He did not so much as read his thoughts as explore the parts where the Praetor had affected. When he was finished he shut down Daniel’s ability to hear. “You bastard. You couldn’t leave well enough alone.” Scott shouted at his lover. “He needed a little push.” The Praetor pointed to the spot where the pompous general had met his end and burst into laughter again.” “Push… well he just push the son of one of your supporters out the window!” “Bastards like the general are dime a dozen. He was not worthy of Daniel. All he saw in him was a good fuck.” “Then why did you put them in the same room?” “As I said… he needed a little push. Oh don’t look at me that way. I didn’t break any of your silly rules. None of this would have happened if you would have let me tell him the truth from the start.” “True…It is my fault. I assumed you had learned from your mistakes. I thought you would control yourself this time. I could not have been more wrong.” Thomas’s anger began to rise. “He’s my grandson, not yours. I will raise him the way I want.” “Your grandson…? If you’re his grandson then he’s my son!” “What? What nonsense is this?” The Praetor summoned the servants to reset the table. Knowing the damage had been done Scott didn’t hesitate from sharing the rest. “You never did wonder who the mother was. Did you really think he would bugger one of the tramps who followed his army? He wanted someone he could trust… someone he would feel proud of carrying his son. He wanted someone who would protect the child from you! Who do you think he picked? Who!” Thomas’s jaw dropped. “You knew he had a son and kept him from me.” “Brutus and I had a son and yes I hid him from you. That was the only thing Brutus ever asked of me… to protect our son from you!” The Praetor fled. He couldn’t endure hearing more. Scott knew Thomas would not remain shocked and unable to act for long. The Chief Examiner had to get his grandson as far as possible before his lover could think clearly enough to stop him. He removed the block on Daniel’s hearing. “Come…we don’t have much time.” He held out his hand. When Daniel didn’t automatically take it he mentally forced him to. “We don’t have time for your stubbornness. I have to get you out of here.” “What about the others. I won’t leave without them.” Daniel felt himself being dragged back to the elevators. “I already have my people getting them to safety.” “Even the infected.” “Yes even him. Is that enough for you to stop fighting me.” “Fighting you?” “Sorry… I forget I’m dealing with a novice. Take a deep breath hold it when you release it imagine you are opening the door to your mind. That’s it.” Daniel felt a wave of calmness sweep over him. He could feel the Examiner inside him changing things in ways he could not understand. When his mind cleared he was back in the elevator. The Examiner was collapsed on the floor. “Sir… sir…” He shook him but he could not wake him up. There was a ding and the doors opened. He found himself in an underground hanger. Line up on one side were what looked like Zephyrs but they were not a variation he recognized. He had barely stepped past the doors when the elevator slid shut behind him taking the Chief Examiner with it. “What am I to do now?” Daniel thought “We’re going to fly one of these buggers and get the hell out of here.” It was the Examiner’s thoughts that spoke to Daniel inside his head. “What happened? I couldn’t wake you up.” “Don’t worry about that. I’m still here to help you.” “But…” “Don’t fight me Daniel. You need to let me be in control. It’s the only way you’re going to get out before the Praetor can stop us. Now breath.” Daniel felt another wave of calmness wash over him. He let the Examiner take control. He could see him walking to the largest of the three craft. He could feel the cold steel as he climbed inside. He could hear the rumbling of the engines as they prepared to take off. Soon they were flying up, up and up, higher than Daniel had ever flown before as the Zephyr rose into space. “Take a good look at it…It might be a while before you see her again,” the Scott said as Earth shrank in the distance. Daniel looked out a side viewport. Up in space he could see for the first time the full extent of the devastation visited upon the Earth by the Azrael Meteor. He saw a world tilted so badly on its axis it had become divided between eternal night and never ending day. On the night side only the mega city lights of the Ark refuges could be seen from space. Where Azrael fell, the ocean and land was cover by pyroclastic smoke and ash from the ring of still active volcanos created by the collision. Circling the Earth around its equator Daniel thought he could see thin rings of frozen ice crystals. They had been created when over a half a million cubic miles of sea water was blasted into orbit by the collision. The world was in ruins but still not without its beauty. If he did as the Examiner suggested and left his homeworld he would miss the shining sun, cool night breezes, crashing ocean waves that out of all the planets in the Solar System only existed on Earth. “You will be back my child.” The Examiner cooed. “Will I?” “Yes… it is your destiny.” Turning forward, he could see the moon growing in the distance. They would be docking in several hours and from there… well, he would have wait and see. “Where are the others?” “They’re safe… that’s all that matters.” “Are… are you safe?” Daniel didn’t know but he was pretty sure not even the Praetor, who was world’s most powerful telepath, could transmit his thought from the Earth all the way to the Moon. “Don’t worry child… We are safe.” Daniel knew it was not as simple as the voice in his skull was making it out to be but he didn’t risk pressing the issue. He knew he wouldn’t like the answer. “Be at ease child and rest. I will let you know when we reach the space port.” Daniel hadn’t noticed until now but he was completely exhausted. Going to the back he found some bunks that had been built into the bulkhead. They looked very inviting. Soon he was laid down, his eyes closed, and fell into deep dreamless slumber. While he slept Scott used the opportunity to familiarize himself with all the nooks and crannies of his new host body. Back on Earth what was left of the Chief Examiner’s former shell was being locked away in a cold stasis cubical that might as well serve as a tomb. _______________________________________________________________________ This Ends Part II of the Sole Scion Cycle.
  4. Working on three rough drafts, two second drafts, and five final drafts and I don't know which one to take out of my to-do box first.

    1. WestcliffWriter


      What one excites you the most? :)


  5. What do you do with a 40 year old older brother who still has two year old temper tanturms over the fact I graduated from college before him?

    1. Show previous comments  3 more
    2. Timothy M.

      Timothy M.

      how about asking him if he thinks being born with a club foot or with diabetes entitles that person to be offensive or cruel for his or her whole life?

    3. Timothy M.

      Timothy M.

      when he says no, ask him very sweetly why he then thinks being born dyslexic gives him the right to behave like that?

    4. Timothy M.

      Timothy M.

      if that doesn't work tell you've always heard people with dyslexia aren't stupied, but he seems to be an exception, lol.

      Good luck, you have my sympathy.

  6. Second to last chapter of Book II of Sole Scion now posted

  7. Chapter Nineteen: Prisoner of Revenge Once pass the armored glass Ray looked back into the cell. His father and uncle were already busy doing those things with their things. He didn’t mind. His father had already gone over the birds and the bees. That did not mean Ray wasn’t in a rush to experience it for himself. Focusing, he went from being an ethereal light to possessing the mass, body, appearance, and uniform of a nondescript NET agent. As he made his way out of the Zoo he cheerfully hummed the nursery rhyme Old Mack Donald. A few of the people he passed gave him inquisitive looks but did not stop him. It took asking some questions and a few wrong turns but eventually he reached the door to Daniel’s quarters. Now that he was there he had to find a way inside. While he appeared to be wearing a security bracelet it was an organic facsimile and not functional. Waving his arm around would not open any doors. Still he was not going to give up so easily. Noticing the guard standing next to the entry he quickly came up with a solution. Still humming he went to the guard and gave him his best impersonation of his uncle’s ‘come fuck me’ look. Tickling the guard’s more primitive mind. If the man had been a Grey he might have caught Ray in the act. But then again, a Grey might find the intrusion most beguiling. What he did must have work because the guard soon had his hands on Ray ass. “Well aren’t you as cute as a button,”” The guard chuckled as he squeezed Ray’s butt. “Some say I’m even cuter naked. Care to find out?” Ray continued on his way for a few more feet then looked back and winked at the guard. The guard looked at the door he was supposed to be guarding then back at Ray, licked his lips and nodded. “We’ll have to make it quick.” “How about long slow and hard.” Ray said. That was one of his father’s favorite lines. “Whichever way you want it cutie.” “Lead on.” “Follow me… I know just the place where we won’t have to worry about being disturbed.” “Sounds lovely.” Ray was beginning to enjoy roleplaying. He followed the guard around the corner and inside an enclosed and luckily empty surveillance room. Looking at the screens Ray saw they were all focused inside Daniel’s quarters. Daniel sat in the study as far as the bed as possible while Major Albert Grey… the bastard, slept comfortably on the bed. “He’s hot.” He pointed to where Daniel sat. “Don’t I know it? Too bad he plays hard to get. One of the infected will get his hot ass before the Major does.” “Why doesn’t he leave him alone?” “What does it matter? You’re hot enough for me. Keeping his eyes on Ray the guard fumbled for the key controlling the surveillance system. With a hard counterclockwise turn he shut the entire system off. The guard grabbed the back of Ray’s ass and squeezed. “Nice round and firm… just the way I like it.” Before Ray knew it their lips were locked. He panicked and attempted to push the guard away but the man was not going to be brush off so easily. Ray wasn’t prepared. He hadn’t thought his plan through to the end result of the seduction. A part of him wanted to run, another was curious to see what having sex was all about. After all, his father seemed willing to take advantage of every opportunity to fuck that fell in his lap. As he felt his virgin cock begin to swell he made a decision. If he was to go through with it, he wanted it to be with someone he was actually attracted to... someone who would make it special. He quickly narrowed down the list to two possible candidates. By the end of the night he would have both. First however he had to deal with a sex crazed guard. Having already formed a telepathic connection to his mind, Ray decided to have a little fun. First he took over the part of the thalamus controlling sight. The guard would now see exactly what Ray wanted and what Ray wanted was them having mad passionate sex without him actually have to take part in it. To help reinforce the hallucination he played around with the sexual pleasure node of the hypothalamus. He would have to constantly focus a part of his mind on the guard to keep each part of the experience under his control but Ray was confident he could pull it off. The only negative part of his plan was that he had to provide the visual experience the guard would believe is real. Doing so could not help but make him more interested to know what it would feel like for real. He didn’t have to strip the guard to get his hands on the bracelet. The hallucination was so real that the guard pretty much ripped off his uniform himself. Once he had the bracelet he slipped from the room and went back to the entry to Daniel’s quarters. With a wave of his hand the door opened. When the light from the hallway reached his closed eyes Daniel jumped out of the chair with disastrous result. While he had slept in the chair his legs had fallen asleep on him. Therefore when he tried to stand he ended up falling on his ass. While it was quite a comical scene Ray interpreted to mean he had scared Daniel out of his wits. That was the last thing he wanted. “I’m not here to hurt you.” He raised his hands over his head to show he was unarmed. “What… is something wrong? Am I needed back at the lab?” Ray offered Daniel a hand up. “Everyone’s fine. I just wanted to make sure you were as well.” “I’m fine… but who are you? I don’t recognize you but you seem to know me.” Ray moved in close and whispered; “It’s me.” He made sure to use his true voice. “Daniel’s eyes went wide. “Ray?” “In the flesh. What do you think?” He spun around to let Daniel have a good look at him. “I hate to say it but you’re hot.” “I didn’t go out of my way to be but thanks.” Ray had indeed picked a formidable body. He towered over Daniel by a head’s length. His face was a pale, smooth, and chiseled as polished marble. His wide shoulders slimmed down to a narrow waist while his legs were knotted with muscle. Daniel was able to determine this because Ray’s uniform was skin tight. Ironically his uniform was in fact just that, a removable outer layer of his body “What now?” “Whatever you want.” Ray gave Daniel a look full of yearning. “Ray… have you lost your mind?” Daniel pointed to where the Major was asleep on the bed.” An idea popped in Ray’s head. “Leave it to me. You go hide.” Daniel slipped into the bathroom and hid himself in the stall. Through the fogged glass he saw Ray slip onto the mattress and lean over Al’s body. The Major woke with a start. “What the hell…” Ray took the Grey’s hands and let them run down his skin tight uniform. It did not take long for him to have Al’s full undivided attention. Daniel watched as the two headed out of the apartment. When Ray returned he came back alone. “All finished. You can come out now.” Daniel hesitated for a brief moment. Ray was showing him a side of him that Daniel never knew he possessed. He wasn’t sure if it was a good thing that Ray’s was showing off his hitherto unobserved sensual side. When he didn’t come back right away, Ray went to him. “Miss me?” “What the hell has gotten into you?” “I don’t know… but I’m certain it is my fault. You see…” Ray went over how he got the guard’s security bracelet. The man was still in the security room but he was no longer alone. The Major was with him, experience the same hallucination as the man he was now ravishing. “You must have quite the imagination,” was the only thing Daniel could think of to saying. “I don’t know. It’s so confusing. My thoughts are divided between them. It’s hard to think straight.” “You were too clever for your own good. It seems you have entangled yourself up in their hallucination.” “I know.” Ray had that longing look in his eyes again. “Ray, I’m flatted but…” “When was the last time a real man treated you right.” Ray’s voice deepened an octave. “Too long…” Daniel had to admit. As part of his punishment Clive had been taken back into the seclusion. With Andrew infected there was no one he found the least bit tempting… until now. “I want it to be you. I want you to be my first.” Ray said “Your first…if you’ve never done it before what are you making the two see?” “What they want to see. They have quite the imagination.” The two found themselves at the foot of the bed. “Ray…” Whatever Daniel was going to say was silenced by Ray’s lips pressing against his own. When their mouths parted both gasped for air. “No tricks… if we’re going to do this I want it to be real.” “I would not think of having it any other way.” Ray let his clothes melt into his hard flesh. Daniel felt his heart race. Ray had indeed picked quite an alluring disguise. “Neat trick… wish I could do that.” “I like you just the way you are.” Ray pulled Daniel into a deeper kiss. As they explored each other’s hot salivating mouths Ray untied the knot of Daniel’s robe and let it fall to the floor. “See that was easy.” He wrapped an arm around the middle of Daniel’s back. With his free hand lifting Daniel up by his thighs he lowered them both onto the bed. “Which way do you prefer… top or bottom?” “Daniel could feel Ray’s nine inch rod pressed against him. He also had his hands on his melon ass. He didn’t know which he wanted more. “What do you want?” “I want to try it all,” Ray said eagerly. “Suites me fine.” Daniel laughed. Ray sat himself on his knees at the bottom of Daniel’s neck. He slapped his fat cock on Daniel open mouth until there was a web of sticky strings of precum between his lips. Then, grabbing his cock at where it joined his giant balls he squeezed, the fat head of his cock swelling larger. He slid his meat down Daniel’s throat. Daniel sucked hard as the bottom of the cock slid up and down his tongue. It was beautiful… Ray was beautiful and far more skilled than any virgin should be. If he knew how often Ray had sneaked into this father’s mind while he and Neil would go at it, Daniel would be Daniel even more eager to experience firsthand the skill of the man who had taught Ray so well. Thinking about Ryan caused Daniel panic and choke. Ray quickly pulled out. “Did I do something wrong?” “No. I just have to ask… what about the plague?” “Don’t worry… I don’t have the sort which would ever harm you.” “Are you sure?” “Yes.” Daniel however wasn’t. His fear of the plague caused his cock to go limp. “How do I know you’re telling me the truth?” “Have we ever shown signs of the plague? Am I even capable of catching it?” To prove his point a purple aura began to radiate from the center of his body. “I am, as some say, a light bulb. Right now I want is to light you up like a Christmas tree.” “What will happen to me if we do this… and don’t tell me nothing.” “I don’t know… I’ve seen what happens when the Captain has sex with outsiders. They glow… they become one of us. But you aren’t like them. Zac… I’ve tried to help him but he’s not taken to the change all that well. Might have to do with him being bitten by one of the Nosferatu.” “What do you mean? Not like them?” “You came from where we came from.” “Ryan hasn’t said…” “The captain doesn’t know and he’s not the same. He only visited. We however were born there.” When Daniel stayed silent Ray doubled his effort to arouse him. When he took Daniel’s cock in his mouth he didn’t just suck he massaged it with the energy from the heart of his core. Daniel didn’t know what to think… He was his father and mother’s son. He had even been shown the baby picture. One memory however nagged him. One day his father had sat him down on his lap and told him… “Some people choose to have children. You on the other hand chose me.” It had never bothered Daniel that he left his mother out. His father had left his mother out of a lot of things. It was as if relationship between the Daniel and his father had been stronger than between husband and wife. Daniel had long known how Karl had helped destroy their marriage. He only now was starting to suspect he had been a part of it as well. Whatever happened? Whatever would happen? No event would ever affect him more than his father’s death. When Ray saw a single tear run down the side of Daniel’s head he had a good idea of why it had been shed. To get his beloved Daniel back on him he stood up on the edge of the bed, raised Daniel’s calves over his shoulder and waited for their eyes to meet. “It’s okay. All that matters is the present. Not the past or the future… just this moment. We must take what we can from it and live life like there is no tomorrow. You are me and I am you and nothing will ever change that.” Ray discarded his flesh but kept his human shape. He was now pure energy, pure emotion, pure love. With a single thrust he sent all of that deep inside Daniel’s mortal frame. He filled Daniel up, gave him his strength, and calmed his wounded heart. Not able to maintain such power forever the moment lasted only a brief moment before it ended. Ray had just enough strength left to return to human form. He didn’t understand the extent of what they had done. He didn’t know if he had caused Daniel to Awaken. He didn’t let such questions lessen the moment. When it came time for him to leave Daniel insisted on walking back with him. They held hands as they walked and while the people they passed seemed shocked by the pair none tried to stop them. At the entrance to the Zoo they were forced to go their separate way. “Will what we did become a common occurrence.” Daniel asked clearly hoping it would. “Only if you want it to be.” Ray replied. He also didn’t want what they did to be a onetime event. “I want it… except having Andrew cured and back with me I want nothing more.” “Then I’ll see you when I see you.” They shared a final kiss. It did not go witnessed… at the other end of the passage the Major stood red faced. He didn’t know if he was filled with rage out of jealousy or that Daniel had just humiliated him. He barreled down on Daniel. “You can forget that collar ever coming off.” He gave it a hard yank. Daniel didn’t flinch when the barbs drew blood. “If that is what you want so be it but you will never have me.” The Major didn’t know it but he had doomed himself. Daniel was not the only one left changed, however, Ray was not the sort to poach on anyone’s territory. As he and Daniel made love, Ray had seen to it that Andrew experienced every bit of it as well. When Andrew saw Ray approaching his cell he knocked on the glass. Ray looked for the source of the sound, saw Andrew and waved. He didn’t stop to chat. Andrew was left confused. After all he had witness why did Ray not seem interested in discussing it. Ray had changed… and deep in his gut Andrew knew both he and Daniel had as well. He didn’t know what the end result would be. He would have to wait with everyone else and see. The next man to come down the hall was the last person he wanted to see. Unlike Ray, Major Grey clearly wanted to talk. Having a good idea what he wanted to talk about Andrew refused to look in his direction. When Albert started pounding on his cell Andrew didn’t bother to look up. “Daniel’s is a two timing lying whore.” Albert spat. When Andrew didn’t take the bait Al turned on the lights to Andrew cell and shouted; “Look at me when I’m talking to you!” Al was losing it. Andrew knew all too well what the bastard had to be going through. Unlike himself, the Major was the source of his own suffering. “Didn’t get lucky last night I take it.” “Actually I did… just not with Daniel.” Albert still didn’t know how he found himself in the surveillance room mid-thrust of fucking the guard who was supposed to be making sure Daniel didn’t leave his quarters. He didn’t even know who he had seen Daniel holding hands with. But the discarded bed sheets had told him the only thing he needed to know. “It doesn’t bother you that your lover is whoring himself out to any man with a dick.” “So long as it isn’t yours… no. See, unlike you, I trust him. Unlike you I have come to accept I might live the rest of my life to never enjoy the rush of feeling myself inside him. I have let him go. Its long past you did the same.” “But he hasn’t given up on you. You two cling to the hope of finding a cure but I will see you dead before I let you hold Daniel in your arms again.” Loki jumped from Andrew’s lap and growled at the man threatening them. The Albert took out a key, and used it to unlock the metal casing protecting the emergency decontamination activator. One push and in less than the time it would take to breath the insides of the cell would go from room temp to as hot as the sun. His fist ached to smash the button. “Major! Don’t you dare hit that button!” Albert knew that voice and dared not disobey. “Yes grandfather.” Out of Andrew’s range of vision the Praetor and six of his bodyguards had their guns aimed directly at Albert’s heart. “I will deal with you and your mutt later.” Albert said as he turned to face his grandfather. “No you won’t,” the Praetor corrected. He turned to face the guards he had brought with him. “You have your orders. Lock him up. Be sure it is the same size as the surveillance room where he just fucked away his future.” “What the hell? Why are you arresting me?” Albert demanded. “I am not arresting you. I’m putting you in quarantine. How can you be such an idiot and still be of my blood? You just had to get yourself infected.” “Infected… how? There is no way I’m infected.” Albert knew screaming at his own grandfather wouldn’t help him prove his case but his jealousy over Daniel had finally driven him mad. “If you actually paid attention to something other than your dick you would have known Dr. Winters got his miracle Sleeper device working yesterday morning.” “I was very aware… I made sure he got my approval for who was to be tested. I know for a fact my name was not on that list.” “But that stupid guard you fucked was and his tests came back positive.” Albert felt as if the floor had fallen beneath him “But grandfather… you wouldn’t lock up your own grandson.” “The law is the law. You better pray Dr. Winters does come up with a cure because without it the only way you’ll ever step out of the Zoo is riding inside a body bag. “It’s a trick… it has to be. He contaminated the samples just to screw with me,” Albert insisted. “Get him out of my sight.” The Praetor turned his hateful face down on Andrew. “If I thought it would do any good I would have let him burn you to a crisp but I now need Dr. Winters full cooperation more than ever.” “The Major could be right… Contaminating the samples is the sort of thing Daniel would do. If he did the Major more than deserved it.” “He will be tested but I at least am quite certain what the results will show. I did not tell my grandson but that idiot guard Awakened while we tried to capture him. As for my grandson… I know exactly what happened in that janitor closest. The fool didn’t think that when the security cameras were turned off it would trigger a warning light to go off. I know exactly what happened.” “Glad to know you’re keeping an eye on things. Makes me feel all safe and cozy inside my cell.” “Don’t get too comfortable. While my grandson was fucking away his future Daniel was entertaining a guest of his own.” “Really?” “When the cameras were turned off we tried to turn them back on remotely. All we got was nothing.” “Then you have nothing to hold against him.” “For now… but I will. Damn it… even if I do, even if Daniel infected my grandson out of spite, there is nothing I dare do about it. His test results came back too.” “And…” “And the results were conclusive.” A tear dropped from one of the Praetor’s green eyes. “He is the Scion of my first born son… the one I loved the most. So can you now see my predicament? I’m in danger of losing both boys.” Daniel shares his blood? Then he’s part Grey. Did Daniel know and not tell me? Andrew wanted to believe his beloved friend hadn’t known. He had to remind himself that none of the past tests Daniel had been made to endure had never hinted he was a Neo, let alone Grey. He didn’t even look like one. No… I’m sure he didn’t know. He is going to be so pissed when he finds out. At least I have three inches of armored glass to protect me when he does because man is he going to be pissed. As Chief Examiner Scott had been the first to learn of Daniel’s heritage. That had left him the duty of telling his husband that Brutus had indeed left behind a son. Scott didn’t know how he should feel about that. He had always known of the long dead Scion had left behind an heir. It had been Brutus who had made Scott swear to hide his existence from his father. It had never occurred to Scott that one of his descendants would fall so easily into their laps. Like any over protective father Thomas had practically suffocated Brutus by the heavy handed manner he used to keep him safe from harm. Like any son, Brutus eventually rebelled. He sent all his father’s men away. He eventually refused to even talk to his father. He would only deal with Scott… the uncle who had fought for what little freedom his father would allowed him to enjoy. Like with the other Scions, most of the Guardians failed to obey the last of the God Emperor’s last command. He had commanded that they allow his children to make their own way in life and be allowed to live without the legacy of their father hanging over them. Varrus, Julian, Thomas all refused to let them do exactly that. Out of all of them only Scott made any attempt to obey. He should not have been surprised that he ended up being the children’s favorite. He became the only one they would tell when they made a mess of things. No one ended up in a worse mess than Brutus. Brutus had always been an idealist. When the Guardians had failed to obey his father’s final orders he took on the responsibility of seeing the God Emperor’s will was obeyed. That is why he founded the Roman Republic… he wanted to create a system of government made up of different voices, where no one man would come to dominate the lives of countless others. The God Emperor had wanted such a system. He didn’t want his sons to find themselves put on a throne and be declared gods. But that was exactly what happened when Julian Lordon turned traitor. Julian… The God Emperor’s most fervent High Priest believed that only when Earth was ruled by the Emperor’s children would the Emperor come back to his people. Seeing the Roman Republic as fertile ground to plant the seeds of a new Ares, he thought to destroy all Brutus had struggled to build and replace it with a new empire. Brutus would not let his dream die without a fight. Against Julian and Octavius and their supporters it was a hopeless war he fought. When he knew the end was near he sent for the one man he trusted, his father’s long time lover, Scott Grey. On the night of the last battle Scott came to him. He begged Brutus to come with him and escape but Brutus refused to listen. He would live his life as he wished even if it meant its end. He had summoned his uncle for one reason only and that was to carry his child. Even on the eve of his death he had not forgotten his father’s prophesy. If it was to be fulfilled then he had to leave behind an heir. Knowing how Thomas would react to his death he made Scott swear to keep the child secret. His son was to live free from the shadow of others… even that of his own. Scott gave him his oath. After the child was born Scott left him with a family with no connection to Ares. That child grew to live an ordinary life and when he died he left behind a son. And so the chain was forged. Though Scott lost track of the Brutus’s heirs during the dark days when the Black Death wiped out whole villages he never doubted the line would always survive. It seemed he had been proven right. Scott could only accredit how fate had led Daniel to him to the foresight of the God Emperor himself. Now that Scott and more importantly Thomas lover knew who and what Daniel was Scott feared he would once again have to defend the right of a Scion to live his own life. And what an unusual life Daniel had lived so far…. When Scott told Thomas the blood results he begged him not to tell Daniel the truth. The young man already had a hatred for NET and all it stood for that was hard to compete against. Telling Daniel he was a long lost family member of NET’s founder would only enrage him further and increase the sense of guilt and self-hatred the young man had been struggling with since his father’s death. It took a lot of shouting before Scott convinced his husband that the best thing to do was to let Daniel find out on his own. Once Thomas gave his word Scott knew he would keep it. Among Grey’s lying to a fellow Grey was considered the worst form of insult. That did not mean Scott wouldn’t keep his lover under close watch. Like a Harvard schooled lawyer he knew Thomas was already searching for loopholes to help speed things along. He would leave clues… breadcrumbs to guide Daniel in the right direction. Whatever trail he left Scott would make sure to sweep away. He had already dealt with those who his foolish husband had already told. He put mind blocks on Andrew, Albert, and anyone Daniel might come in contact with. They would not forget what they knew but the block would prevent them from even hinting at anything. When he caught Thomas emailing the results to Daniel he used his protocol override to see that CEMS would prevent that kind of data from being transmitted. With each move Thomas made, Scott had been ready to counter it. It was quickly become a kind of game. The truth would be hidden much like Ester eggs. The hints were hidden but were out there to discovered but each time Thomas tried to point one out to Daniel, Scott would hide the egg someplace else. That did not mean Scott was able to get the better of Thomas all the time. Thomas had not become the head of NET by being dim witted. Out of twenty attempts maybe one or two would manage slip by Scott but those clues were always obtuse to the point that Daniel didn’t even notice them even when they were right under his nose. After enough test-runs Daniel’s Sleeper detection device was certified as a success. With the discovering of the source of the pathogen the Plague moniker was cast aside for the more accurate one the Nano Plague as in nano machine. __________________________________________________________________________ Not for the first time Daniel ended up asleep at his computer and not for the first time Ray ended up carrying him to bed. With each experience Ray had gotten better at mimicking Greys. One day Daniel arrived in his lab to find Ray sitting at a spare desk, taking notes. While Daniel had been busy fine tuning his invention, Ray had work in secret creating a new personnel file for himself. After Daniel gotten off the initial shock he was surprised he hadn’t thought of it himself. Ray was now officially a member of NET. He had in fact managed to seduce enough of his superiors that he had gotten himself Albert’s former post. Daniel was now expected to report to him, and they couldn’t be happier with the arrangement even if they tried. There was another reason why Daniel was grateful to have Ray on his side of the cells. Ray’s powerful mental abilities allowed Daniel and Andrew to enjoy a certain level of intimacy that without Ray acting as a conduit would have been otherwise impossible. When Ray entered the lab to see Daniel once again slumped on top of his keyboard he shook his head and laughed. “I swear. Your work schedule is starting to ruin our love life.” He went over to Daniel and let his fingers run through his hair. Since their first experience short narrow bands of white tuffs of hair had appeared on either side of Daniel’s temple. Daniel would moan about getting old. Ray thought it made him look distinguished. Anyway he wouldn’t let Daniel dye his hair to get rid of it. To him they were marks of their love. As he carried Daniel to their bed he wondered how he ended up falling so hard for him. Daniel was his father’s son and he had drawn Watchers like Ray to him like fireflies to the moon. There was more to it of course. Daniel might carry the blood of his father… but there was more to him than that. Just like any Watcher, Ray and Daniel possessed the souls of those who died before being born. Unlike other Watchers however both managed to mature to adulthood…. Well almost. Both possessed a young innocence that would never leave them. It was Ray’s secret focus of his research to find a way of keeping Daniel as young in body as he was young of soul. Unlike Ray who like all true Watchers was immortal. Daniel would slowly grow old, weaken, and eventually die. As far as Ray was concerned changing that was just as important as Daniel finding a cure for the Nano Plague. After lying down next to Daniel, Ray let his strong slender fingers rub Daniel along his chest. “Soon Dan… I’ll have the solution soon enough for both of us.”
  8. JMH

    Chapter Eighteen: Ruin

    Chapter Eighteen: Ruin Daniel looked at what little remained of his lab and let out a deep sigh. He didn’t know how to feel about having lost an entire year’s worth of research in such short a time. Yes the creation of the device had been the focus of his life work for the last four years yet the destruction of the machine and all its data bought him more time to figure out who and what he really was before NET did. For that reason he was quite relieved that his research had once again been destroyed. At this moment what he really wanted to do was not go back to work but curl into a tight ball and sleep for a good week or so. Recent events would not allow that however. “Dr. Winters.” Turing around Daniel saw Al at the entrance to the lab. He was very pale and with his darting eyes and shaking hands was clearly jittery about something. “You’re here to tell me something I would rather not know, aren’t you.” Not waiting for Albert to reply Daniel turned back to stare at the blackened wreckage. Whatever bad new Albert had to share with him, Daniel didn’t want to have to listen to it while having to look at the expression of pity Albert had already been wearing when he entered the lab. “I’m afraid so.” Albert said gently. He took two steps towards Daniel, his shoes producing a cracking sound as he walked on shattered glass. “Well out with it.” Daniel spat out bitterly. “It’s Captain Labatt he’s…” Daniel felt the wind get knock out of him. Of all the people Daniel didn’t want to hear bad news about Andrew was top of the list. “Is he dead?” Daniel asked in a squeaky voice. It was all he could do not to collapse to the floor and start wailing in despair. “He’s…” Daniel charged at Albert. He grabbed the Major by the lapels and started shaking him violently. “Is he dead? Please tell me he’s not dead!” Albert didn’t attempt to force Daniel to let him go. He took in a deep breath and whispered; “No… he’s alive.” “Then what? If something’s happened to him I demand you tell me now.” “He’s infected.” Albert said. If Daniel had not been holding onto the Grey’s black coat with an iron grip he would have collapsed onto the shards of glass which covered the floor. “But he’s a Neo… Neos can’t get infected.” “I’m sorry Daniel… but it’s true. From what we can tell he wasn’t infected by the typical Nano…the guy who did it was some sort of Nano we’ve never dealt with before. Neo Nano Sleeper is what I think they are calling him. I didn’t want to be the one to tell you but the Chief Examiner insisted.” “Take me to him.” “I can take you to where he is but he’s in quarantine.” “He’s to become a specimen? Another lab rat for you bastards to poke and prod to death?” Daniel a sense of anger rise up inside him that was like nothing he had felt before. “It has already been decided. He has been assigned to your section of course. Isn’t that what both of you would want? At least this way you two can spend a lot more time together.” Albert could not stop himself from making the snide statement. “Want!” Daniel was enraged. How dare this bastard tell him he wanted this? He never wanted, never imagined one of them would fall to the plague. He hit the Major with a hard left hook. Caught off guard Albert stumbled leaving him open to a kick in the groin. He fell to his knees but Daniel kept pounding on him. The Grey had never thought Daniel could hit so hard, let alone become so violent. He felt more than heard his nose being snapped. He curled his head under his chest to try and shield his face but Daniel grabbed him by his red locks and slammed Al’s chin on his boney knee. It took five men pinning Daniel to the floor to stop him from beating Al to death. They looked ready to give Daniel a good pounding of his own but the Major ordered them to excuse the Lieutenant’s behavior. They were to take him back to his quarters and keep a guard at his door. He was not to leave until the Major or the Chief Examiner said otherwise. As Daniel was dragged kicking and screaming back to the residential floor Al felt his knees buckle. Daniel had really done a number on him. He waved over a pair of guards. “Get me to medical wing.” “Shouldn’t we get a stretcher, Major?” “No… just stand on either side and catch me if I look like I’m going to fall.” The Segundo doctor took one look at Al and moved him to the front of the line of those who had been injured during the Nano outbreak. With the Hive Queen having fled into the ocean NET’s injured were only now being brought in for treatment. The doctor didn’t return until after the results of the first round of tests were in. “Well I don’t have to tell you you’re lucky to still be alive. So is the juggernaut that did this to you.” “Just tell me the damage.” “A concussion, some minor brain swelling, your nose is pretty much shattered. You have two micro-fractures on the left side of your jaw. Three cracked teeth, two black eyes, and oh yes let’s not forget the broken rib which has punctured your left lung.” “Believe me it could have been worse.” “I’m sure it could have been. Mind telling who did this?” “Why?” “Because I have three MPs ready to arrest him.” “No arrest… no charges. He had every right to attack me.” “Attack… more like attempted murder. Look, if you don’t want to get him into trouble that’s your business but there still must be an investigation. Better for you to make it easy on him then for both of you to go through interrogation.” Al winced when he heard the word interrogation. “Alright I’ll tell you but promise you won’t laugh.” The Major told him the full story. To his relief the Segundo understood. He knew Daniel was not the sort to attack someone out of the blue let alone beat someone to a pulp. Like almost everyone else on Earth the Segundo had seen all the propaganda vids that chronicled the love between Daniel and Andrew. As it involved Captain Labatt the doctor promised he would do whatever he could not to have Daniel court-martialed. Everyone knew how close the two were. Everyone knew what would happen if word every got out that Earth’s most favored son had fallen to the Plague. It wasn’t as clear cut as that however. Daniel had attack just not anyone but the grandson of the two most powerful men within the NET organization so there was a good chance that Daniel wouldn’t get off completely scot-free. Still it would have to be kept quite which meant Daniel would get a hard slap on the wrist but not much more. With the Chief Examiner showed up Scott was not at all pleased by what he found. “You will be moved to private quarters as soon as they can be prepared.” “What about the one’s I already have…” Al winced when he saw the disbelieving look on his grandfather’s face. “Never mind I guess putting me back in the same room with Daniel wouldn’t be a good idea.” “No it wouldn’t.” Scott replied venomously. When word of what Daniel had done to their grandson reached Thomas he didn’t know how to react. Scott placed much of the blame on himself. He had ordered Al to give Daniel the bad news even after his son had asked not to be the one to tell him. Thomas was not much better off. Though he often claimed otherwise he cared deeply for his grandson. He could have easily lost him. “What are we going to do?” Scott asked after a long awkward silence. “I suggest we sweep this all under the rug and forget it ever happened.” “Forget it? He almost killed our grandson.” “What would you have us do? Blindfold him and line him up before a firing squad. It’s your fault this happened. You should have known how Winters would react.” “I do blame myself but you know Al… he’ll be crawling back to Daniel like a love sick puppy in no time.” “Then I’ll transfer him over to the mainland. Will that satisfy you?” “It wouldn’t please our grandson… so no it wouldn’t please me either.” “Well I’m out of ideas. You insist the Major won’t be satisfied unless he’s put back with his attacker. I however will not tolerate Winters going berserk on our grandson again.” Thomas looked at his lover waiting for him to come up with his own idea. After giving him his chance Thomas decided he would do things his way. “I know you’re opposed to it, especially it being used in this case but it will have to be the collar… We will put the collar back on him. It’s the only way we can be sure we can control him.” Scott was indeed opposed to its use. The situation called for drastic measures however. “It’s to be temporary I hope. Once we are sure he won’t attack our grandson again we’ll have it removed? If Winters finds out however he will hate you for this.” “I can tolerate him hating me.” Thomas said bitterly. “He’ll get over it. The situation with Labatt it was really concerns me. We can’t expect Winters to get over what happened to his lover any time soon.” “We’ve assigned the former captain to his lab… for now that’s all we can do.” “He’s to be put under full quarantine. I don’t want the two of them finding a way to be in the same room with each other.” “You mean like his wolf.” Scott asked “Like her too.” “When are we going to tell him the truth about Loki?” “I don’t see the need. Do you?” Thomas asked. “From what I’ve gather he already knows the truth.” “Then why keep them apart? That pup would never hurt him and you know it.” “I’m not worried what that pint sized monstrosity might do to his owner as much as what it would do to others. She’s extremely infectious. It would only take her biting someone and poof… we have another werewolf epidemic. “Can’t we keep the wolf under quarantine but give Daniel full access to her cell? If we want Daniel to get better I can’t think of a better way than to allow him to have his wolf back. Would limiting access to Loki to only Daniel meet your security concerns?” Thomas looked at his husband and knew by the look in Scott’s green eyes he could not refused the request. “No… but I know better than to fight a battle I can’t win. You know what this mess reminds me of.” Thomas said whimsically. “Aye… I’m not so blind that I can’t see the similarities too.” “Maybe they have more in common than that… don’t you think?” Thomas asked his lover with an almost desperate sense of hope glimmering in his eyes. Scott leaned back in his chair and let out a deep sigh. “I think we’ve had this conversation before. You can’t keep on obsessing over Brutus.” “But there’s still a chance he could be his heir.” Thomas rose from his chair and went over to his lover. “There is but we still have no proof.” Scott replied. Unable to withstand the desperate look in Thomas’s eyes he turned his gaze down to the floor. “We’ll get it eventually. I know we will. All we need is time to figure him out.” “And what if he is the one? What then?” Thomas didn’t hesitate before answering Scott’s question. “Then I’ll make sure I never lose him like I did my son.” “I was afraid you’d say that.” Scott whispered. “What did you say?” Thomas asked. Up until that point they had been communicating telepathically. Scott straightened himself back up and went back to communication telepathically. “Nothing… just thinking about the old days.” “Ah… good old days. I still remember them as if they were just yesterday.” “Yes… the good old days.” Scott replied sadly. It pained the Chief Examiner that even after all this time his lover had not changed one bit. One day Thomas would have no choice but to or the mistake he made with his other two children would end up being repeated. It was the same mistake that had chased all three of Thomas’s sons away from his father. If Daniel was upset by what had happened Andrew was twice as bad off. Though Andrew told the investigator he didn’t know what happened he remembered all of it. He was more than infected… he was the means by which Talon who have his revenge against Daniel’s father. He didn’t know what fueled such hatred towards Avery that he would wish to harm his son but he couldn’t let himself be used as the means by which Talon would get his revenge. Andrew tried killing himself but whatever Talon had infected him with had survival instincts independent of his own and would not allow him to do anything that might threaten his survival. He would have to spend the rest of his life caged in armor glass, never again to know the feel of Daniel’s body against his. That was the terrible truth of the situation… he couldn’t go the rest of his life without the touch of Daniel’s lips on his own. He knew Daniel wouldn’t be able to survive it either. No matter how much they denied it they both knew the ending of this story. One way or another he would end up infecting Daniel. That is unless Daniel managed to do the impossible and discover the long sought for cure. If anyone could manage to come up with one Andrew would place his money on his best of all friends. Still he had come to accept that the odds of Daniel doing so before they both succumbed to their desires were slim to none. Talon would have his revenge and there was nothing he or Daniel could do about it. The sound of a nightstick being pounded on the armored glass shook Andrew out of his moping. Standing on the other side off the cell was the General. He looked as heartbroken as Andrew felt. “I’m sorry lad. This is my fault. I should never have taken you with me.” “It’s not your fault sir. Anyway if you hadn’t you wouldn’t have found the Hive and we’d all be up to our neck in Sipderwolves and Mantis.” “You should have waited for the rest of the squadron.” “It wouldn’t have made a difference. You know seismic charges tend to go off early when dropped underwater… the rising water pressure and all. The only way that Hive could be taken out was for the bombs to be dropped right on the seabed.” The general pounded a heavy fist on the armored glass. “Someone else could have done it!” “I would not ordered someone else to do something I would not risk doing myself. You taught me that.” “Then I was a fool.” “No, you don’t throw away their lives on hopeless causes. That’s why the men respect you and why I do as well.” “Damn it Labatt you’re not making this easy for me.” The general pounded a massive fist against the wall. “I’m sorry sir but there is nothing more I can do for you.” Xander leaned against the glass and gave Andrew the briefest of grins. “But there are things I can do for you. After saving their redheaded hides they owe me big. I can have you transferred back to HQ. It won’t be like the Ritz but at least you won’t have to worry about being used as a damn lab rat.” “Thank you for the offer sir but I really need to stay where I am. If a cure can be found, it will be discovered here.” General Helios scratched his chin as he debated what to say next. “That’s not why you want to stay… You just don’t want to be away from him.” “What can I say? I love him.” Andrew did his best not to look sheepish when he said those precious words. “Which is why you need to come with me. Staying here where you two will see each daily yet never allowed to touch one another would drive you both mad.” “Then I’d rather go mad then never see him again.” “Oh well… you can’t blame an old soldier from trying.” “You’re not old.” “I sure feel like it. You take care of yourself Captain. If you ever change your mind… well, I can tell that ain’t going be happening any time soon. Be careful… even behind all this armored glass you will not be safe from the NSP and their political shenanigans.” The two gave each other a final salute and the General left. His next visitor was less welcomed. Fresh from the regeneration tanks Albert Grey skin and hair was bleached from spending five days soaking in White. Except for crooked nose he looked like Daniel hadn’t almost killed him. “What do you want? Come for revenge?” Andrew asked. He had heard how Daniel had reacted to the bad news and Andrew loved him all the more for it. “No… I’ve come to clear the air between us. I’m sorry for what happened. You and Daniel never deserved any of this,” Albert looked at Andrew as if he was looking at a dead man. “What does deserving have to do with it. I don’t know about you but I don’t think anyone deserved getting the plague.” “There I go again… offending people I care deeply about. At least I have armored glass to protect me from another beating.” “I wouldn’t put too much faith in it keeping me from killing you if I find out you are still causing Daniel grief.” “Look… I put my neck on the line to keep Daniel out of the brig. The least you can do is hear me out.” “Say what you have to say then go.” Andrew didn’t care what Albert had to say. He was already sure he wouldn’t like it. “I love Daniel.” “You what?” Andrew jumped to his feet. Pressing his face against the glass he repeated himself. “You said what?” “I love him… the funny thing is I don’t know the hell why. It is not like Daniel has done anything I’ve found endearing. I’m quite certain he hates me. None of that matters. I love him and if that means he clobbers me again and again I’ll still come back for more.” The pleasant expression on Albert’s face suddenly turned into a snickering grin. “I just wanted you to know that I will do whatever it takes to protect him from you.” “Get out. Get the hell out of my sight. You don’t love him. If you did you would know better than to screw with the man who loves him most.” “I’m going but know that if you ever infect him I will kill you. Nice and slow.” Al slid a finger across his throat. He gave Andrew a final warning glare then left. Well at least I know why Daniel tried to kill him. If I ever get out of here I’ll try to kill him too. It was several days before Daniel was released from house arrest and allowed to see Andrew. As far as Andrew could tell he didn’t look to worst for wear. His eyes… his green emerald eyes however burned with a determination Andrew had never seen before. “Hello Daniel.” Andrew whispered. “Hello… is that all you have to say. Hello?” Daniel spat out angrily. He began pacing back and forth and did his best not to even look at Andrew. Andrew got as close to the glass he could without pressing his face against it. “Damn it Dan. What else can I say? That I want to rip this cell apart and take you inside me. That’s why I want to kill Albert Grey for even thinking he’s in love with you? That we both want him dead won’t help either of us.” “I want you to tell me you are fine… that we’ll be fine.” “Jeez Dan, you know we’re not. Lying to each other won’t make the pain go away.” Andrew stared at Daniel until they made eye contact. The anger scowl that had been marring Daniel’s otherwise beautiful face melted away. Andrew waved Daniel to him. After Daniel slid against the glass next to him Andrew whispered; “Look the only way I’m getting out of here is either in a body bag or you coming up with a cure.” “I don’t know if there is one.” Daniel whispered. “You once believed otherwise.” Andrew replied. Andrew didn’t know what he would do if Daniel gave up all hope of them ever being together again. “I know but each time I think I’m close to making progress my lab explodes.” Daniel did his best not to sound whinny but that was the way it came across to Andrew. Andrew could not help but laugh. Soon Daniel was as well. “We’ll get there. So long as you don’t give up we’ll get there. So, now that’s out of the way, got any good news for me?” “I do… they gave me Loki back.” “Loki… that damned pup?” “Yes… it seems your father sold her off to NET soon after my mother won custody of me.” “That’s not what he told me. He said that your love sick pup ran away trying to find you.” “I guess that sounds more romantic. I have her back which is all that matters.” “Just make sure she doesn’t go around biting people.” Andrew warned. “I’ve been warn more than once not to let that happen.” “How big is she now?” “The same size she was we I lost her… Still a pup.” “Still a pup… does that mean…” “She’s a Sleeper which means they have no problem letting her share a cell with you.” “Daniel… you’re giving me Loki?” “Loaning… I’ll want her back after I come up with a cure.” “If you get us cured I’ll get you as many puppies as you want. I’m sure Loki wouldn’t mind having a litter or two. When do I get to see her?” “She’s being prepped for the transfer as we speak.” “Thank you Daniel… really I mean it. You have no idea how scared I’ve been that I might end up spending the rest of my life alone in this fucking cell.” “You’re not alone. You have me.” Daniel placed his right palm of the glass. Andrew placed his next to Daniel’s. “And you have me. You have always had me.” Hearing a whimpering Andrew jumped to find Loki crawling out the slot where his food was sent through. “There’s my little girl.” Andrew picked the tiny animal up and placed her in his lap. “You’re right. She hasn’t grown an inch.” “You two be good to each other.” Daniel got back on his feet and made his way to the exit. “Wait, where ya going?” Andrew asked. Daniel slowly turned around and let Andrew see the annoyed expression on his face. “I’m afraid I’m still on parole.” Andrew saw Daniel scratched his neck. He quickly saw the collar. “No way! No way in hell I’m letting them force you to wear that thing.” “It’s only temporary. Once the Praetor is sure I won’t try to kill his grandson again I won’t have to wear it.” “You mean that bastard Al is the Praetor’s own grandson.” “Unfortunately yes.” “Don’t worry… you won’t have to worry about killing him cause I’ll kill him first,” Andrew promised. “No… we both might hate the bastard but he doesn’t mean me any harm.” “Mean any harm he threatened to kill me a few days ago.” “I know… They showed me the surveillance footage. It was a test. They wanted to see how I would react if I saw Al threatening you. Suffice it to say I barely passed.” “That doesn’t change anything. That bastard’s scrawny little neck is mine.” “Don’t trouble yourself. I’ve already figured out how to deal with him.” “Mind filling me in.” Daniel pointed to the camera aimed at them. “We all have our secrets to keep. I’ll see you in the morning.” Daniel turned back to leave. “If not sooner.” Andrew shouted as Daniel left. ____________________________________________________________________ While they might have put a halt to Logan’s madness that did not mean NET was ready to let Ryan and his men go. As soon as they returned from the vault they were put right back into their cells. Daniel however used what influence he had over the Major to make a few improvements to their living situation. Instead of being stuck in individual cells they were transferred to much larger ones with three to each cell. He also had intercoms connected to each cell so they could talk freely among themselves. Ryan knew such luxuries could have come without a price but Daniel never showed a hint of what it must have cost him. However it didn’t take Ryan long to decide to join the long list of people wanting to kill the Major. Seeing Daniel turning around the corner Ryan and Ray jumped to their feet. “Hello doctor.” “Hello Daniel.” Ray added. “Hello you two. Anything new?” Unlike before they talked openly. It was part of the terms of Daniel’s parole that he not have any form of communication that could not be observed and recorded. “Not much… we haven’t been poked or prodded this week.” Ryan gave Daniel a sly wink and a wolfish grin. “Is that good or bad news.” Daniel asked with a straight face. “Depends on who’s doing to poking.” Neil laughed Daniel decided to play along. “Is that an invitation for me to do another exam?” Ryan stretched his body out until his abs were showing from under his shirt. “It’s a promise.” Daniel couldn’t hold back a chuckle. “Believe me, that’s one invitation I look forward to one day to RSVP.” “Really doctor… and here I thought you and the Major were a monogamous couple.” Daniel didn’t say a word. All he had to do was glare. Ryan knew he stepped in it quickly had to apologize. Sorry that wasn’t funny.” “I’ve heard better jokes.” Daniel replied coldly. “Anyway unless you have anything else to report I should finish my rounds.” “Don’t worry I’ll make it up to you… How about dinner for two, tomorrow, my place?” “Will have to think about it. Might have to send someone else to stand in for me.” “Right now I’m willing to take anyone…” Ryan moved closer to the glass. “Anyone.” “Point taken. See you tomorrow.” Daniel waved goodbye and moved on to the next set of cells. Once Daniel was gone the three went back to speaking into each other telepathically. “Well?” Neil asked. “Is he really going to go through with it?” “I think he more than hinted at it,” Ryan replied. “I’ve been itching to give the Major a taste of his own medicine. Let’s see how he likes being on this side of the glass.” “Captain Papa, are you really sure you want to do this?” Ray asked. He didn’t like Al either but he didn’t feel comfortable with what his dad planned on doing to him. “Believe me once I finish buttering him up he will be more than a willing victim. I don’t care what it takes I’m going to wipe the smug expression he’s been wearing lately off his face even if I have to fuck it off.” “Specimen #18 prepare for transfer.” A voice from the cell’s speaker ordered. “Hearing his number called Ryan felt a jolt of excitement. “This is it. Daniel’s really decided to go through with it.” Ryan knew the procedure. The guard would come in, handcuff his wrists and ankles. He would then be strapped down on a gurney and be rolled into one of the lab’s examination rooms. It all went as he expected until a hood was put over his head. “Now wait a minute. What’s this?” “New regulations. Specimens are to be hooded between transfers. Daniel hadn’t warned him of any change in procedure. It must have slipped his mind. It wouldn’t matter once the Major was locked in the room with him. He was not the sort to condone rape but nor could he stand aside while Daniel was being forced to sleep with the bastard. Infecting Al with the plague was the prefect means to free Daniel from his control. When the gurney finally came to a stop, it was tilted up head forward until he was back on his feet. The cuffs were removed and the upper straps undone. The hood however remained in place. When he heard the airlock door begin to cycle he yanked it off. There waiting for him, looking as dumbfounded as he, was Andrew. “What are you doing here?” Andrew demanded. “I should be the one asking that.” Ryan said feeling he had just been had. “I was told….” Andrew was the first figure it out. “Damn we’ve been played.” “You’re referring to the bastard we both expected to fuck.” “Yeah…” “What now.” Ryan looked around the room as if searching for a way out. “I think that should be obvious.” The voice they heard coming from the speaker belong to a very giddy Major. “I thought what could be better than watching two strong proud men fuck each other. Don’t you agree Daniel?” There was silence. “Oh well it seems he’s speechless with anticipation. Now do make a good show of it.” “What now?” Andrew asked. “We fuck each other.” Ryan said as he pulled off his shirt. “For that bastard’s enjoyment?” “What do you think will happen if we don’t?” Ryan said. “He wouldn’t dare.” Andrew said as he suddenly realized what Ryan was hinting at. “If we don’t give him a show he will make us watch one of his own?” “He would… if we don’t give him a good show he’ll do exactly that.” As if on cue one of the video screens flickered to life. It showed Daniel sitting on a bed looking despondent. Behind him Al was standing naked behind him, his sex fully erect. Al looked up at the camera in Daniel’s room and while wearing a wicked grin said; “I’m waiting.” As quickly as the screen came to life it went dead. Ryan threw the gurney at the screen. “I swear I will make what Daniel did to him seem as tame as patty-cake.” “Patty cake?” Andrew asked. Ryan aimed an arched eyebrow in Andrew’s direction. “You’ve never heard of patty-cake?” “And you have?” Andrew demanded. “You kids have no culture,” Ryan said dismissively. “I’ll show you culture.” Both men were pissed. Somehow they managed to redirect their rage to force themselves into having sex. It was hard and rough. The more they beat on each other the more they got into it. When it was over however both men were still furious. “Well bastard… enjoy the show?” Andrew shouted toward the cracked screen. The screen came back to life. “We found it quite entertaining. Didn’t we dear?” “No we didn’t.” Daniel was no longer on the bed. Wherever he was he was off screen. “Uh oh… it seems I have some making up to do. Toddles we’ll have to do this again.” “I’ll kill him. I’ll tear his balls off and make him eat them.” Andrew grabbed what was left of the screen and smashed it against his knee. “It wasn’t as bad as it looked.” While Ryan was pissed he had noticed something Andrew clearly hadn't Andrew flung the twisted metal frame of the television screen against a wall of armored glass. “What do you mean not as bad?” “You really need to learn to pay attention.” Ryan placed a hand on Andrew’s shoulder. In a telepathic burst he told Andrew; “If you did you would have noticed the bed was still made.” “What of it?” Andrew whispered. “Think about it. Would the bed have still been made if the two of them just had sex?” “They could have done in somewhere off the bed.” “No… a bastard is a bastard. If he had forced Daniel to have sex with him he would make sure we saw some proof that it happened. I bet Daniel didn’t even let him anywhere near first base.” Andrew arched an eyebrow. “The bastard can’t be too happy about that.” “I’m certain he isn’t. Not that he would let us know that for ourselves.” “That doesn’t change that I will feed him his balls the first chance I get.” “No… but it does ease my concern for the good doctor. Believe me he’s up to something.” “If he is I wish he would let us in on it.” “No he wants us to show as much anger as possible. How better to convince the bastard he’s won.” “If Daniel has a plan under his sleeve he better act fast because I don’t think I can put up with much more of this.” Ryan looked at Andrew. His blue eyes had turned solid black. His light brown skin had faded to a splotchy Grey. He was Awakening. “Calm down Andrew you need to keep yourself under control. Don’t give that bastard what he wants.” “What I want is to tear this place apart.” Andrew hissed through clenched teeth. “All in good time my friend but if you Awaken you will never live to see the bastard get what’s coming to him. You’ll also lose Daniel… for good this time.” Andrew grabbed fistfuls of hair and began pulling at it. “I… I… can’t stop.” “Yes you can. For Daniel’s sake you must.” “For Daniel…” Ever so slowly his body regained it’s more human appearance. “See I knew you could do it.” “This time but what about the next.” Ryan wrapped an arm around Andrew’s shoulders. “We’ll deal with it as it comes. Remember I’m on your side.” “Good to know I have someone covering my back. I know Daniel tries his best but right now he’s as much a prisoner here as we are.” “We’ll get through this. When we do God help those who get in our way.” Ryan dug his finger into Andrew’s tense shoulders. “Be careful…” Andrew warned. “Careful of what. A back massage? You’re as stiff as a block of iron.” “It is not the massage you need to be careful of. It is what it might lead to.” “And if it leads to that.” Ryan let his breath brush against the back of Andrew’s neck. “Why are you trying to tempt me?” “Because you need someone to give you what Daniel cannot give you right now. I on the other hand need someone to fuck me.” Ryan was lying of course. He was sure Andrew knew that. It was for the young man’s good. He needed someone he could depend on… someone to help keep his emotions under control. Andrew was, if anything, passionate in his love making. Ryan quickly understand that much was true about the young man. The second time around they showered each other with tender caressed and slow fondling. If the bastard was still watching he would be disgusted by what he would have seen. He would have known that instead of dividing his enemies he had strengthened the join determination to bring an end to his control over the man they both loved. If what he was experiencing was a hint of what the two experienced between each other Ryan could see why Daniel had strove to remain faithful to Andrew. Still Ryan would not let Daniel pine his life away yearning for the touch of a man he might never be allowed to be near. That line of thinking only fueled their love making and double both captain’s desire to ravish the man Ryan was quickly falling in love. When both were spent Ryan did not wait for the guards to return before getting dressed. “We must do this again.” “Maybe…” Andrew replied noncommittally “Maybe? I don’t know about you but that was one of the best fucks I’ve had in a long time. I guess you see it differently.” Ryan had enjoyed it. He had assumed Andrew had as well. Andrew kept his eyes on the knot he was trying to tie around his pants. “It was fun but you’re not Daniel.” “I see… Look, I can’t say I haven’t thought about getting into Daniel’s pants.” Andrew’s head jerked up. “Go on. You were about to say something about Daniel’s pants.” “I was trying to explain that you and I have about as much chance of getting him into bed as we do getting cured.” “You are saying that since neither of us can have what we really want we should take what we can get?” “Exactly.” “Fine… but only if Daniel agrees to go along with it.” “I don’t see him as being the jealous type.” “He won’t give a damn so long as it doesn’t evolve into something more than a hard fuck,” Andrew warned. Daniel had put up with years of Andrew’s cheating but never once had Andrew dared to bring one of his tricks back home with him. Ryan burst out laughing. “It’s not like I’m not asking for your hand in marriage or anything.” “Good… Daniel is the only man I will ever love. Keep that in mind before you let yourself fall head over heels for me.” “Then we have nothing to worry about, do we?” Ryan knew he could be mistaken as being a cocky bastard but he needed to ease Andrew’s suspicions that he intended for them to become more than fuck buddies. After the guards had taken them back to their cells Ryan found Ray and Neil had stayed awake. They clearly wanted to know how things had gone. “Well?” Neil started off. “Well I think I at least got my foot in the door.” “Good, just be careful he doesn’t slam it shut on your toes,” Neil warned. “Dad are you certain it will work?” Ray asked. “I can’t say for sure. Andrew is infected. We won’t know for a while if the Nanos in our blood will overwhelm the ones he’s infested with.” “It could end up the other way around. Neil warned. “I would rather think not. Let’s focus on what we do know.” Ryan replied. “Whatever happened to us while we were on Ares has changed us in ways we don’t fully understand. One of the things we do know is our past experience fighting the Spiderwolves has shown us to be immune to their version of the virus. I am betting that the same will prove true with whatever variant Captain Labatt is struggling with.” “Wouldn’t it be simpler to share your theory with the good doctor? He could run tests to see if it’s true. If it is Labatt could be treated with regular blood transfusions.” “And ruin all my fun? Ryan saw Neil arch an eyebrow when he said it. “All kidding aside it’s going to take more than blood for him to survive long enough for the doctor to come up with a cure. More than treatment he needs a reason to fight off the infection. Hope can be as powerful a drug as any other. I plan to give it to him.” Neil laughed. “And enjoy a nice piece of ass while you’re at it.” “It doesn’t hurt.” Ryan laughed as well. Neil wasn’t sure if Ryan was only joking. Not for the first time he would have to trust that the captain knew what he was doing. If he turned out to be wrong then it wouldn’t be the first time his men had to save him from his own mess. “I don’t know. The first time you shove that bat of a dick of yours up my chute I do remember it hurting more than a little.” “You needed to be broken in before you could learn to enjoy it.” Ryan didn’t know if Neil was complaining or proposing they have a little fun. “Ray can you make like a pixie and give us some alone time.” Neil did not take his eyes off the growing tent inside Ryan’s pants. “Go see what Daniel is up to.” Ryan hooked his thumbs around the elastic band. “Take your time… there’s no rush.” “Okeydokey. Is there anything you would like me to tell him?” “Tell him? Both men looked towards Ray as if he had lost his mind. “Don’t worry. He won’t know it’s me.” “It’s your hide.” Ryan warned. He turned back to Neil. The man was clearly looked annoyed. “Don’t look at me that way. He can’t help it.” “He could if you got him a boyfriend.” Neil replied. “A boyfriend?” “A boyfriend.” Neil insisted. He pressed Ryan down to his knees. Ryan pulled Neil’s cock out and played with it. “We’ll talk about that later.” “Always later with you,” Neil replied “Better later than too soon.” He swallowed Neil’s cock whole.
  9. If Vampires come out only at night, when would vampires in outer space come out.

    1. MarcW


      like everyone else .. they'll come out when they are good & ready :)

    2. Daddydavek


      In dark matter?

  10. JMH

    Chapter Seventeen: Infection

    Chapter Seventeen: Infection One of the first things Andrew did once they had taken off was divide the islands into a grid. That way his men would be able to drop their seismic charges with the greatest amount of efficiency. In an hour they had cleared all the sectors north and west of the base. That left the more dangerous southern and eastern zones to be scanned. So far the base had managed to hold off the Hive. After three attack waves there wasn’t enough left of the Mantis Swarm for it to re-gather for another attack. Off the southern coast however a second swarm was forming. It was already larger than the first and continuing to grow with each passing minute. When it made its move to attack the base Andrew’s squadron would have to shift from searching for the Hive Queen to fighting off the Mantis. “Sector 12-F cleared.” The lead pilot of beta-wing reported. “Move on to 11-F then head back to base to refuel and reload your bomber and missile bays.” Andrew ordered “Same configuration of sonic charges?” Andrew thought about it for a few seconds then decided against it. While they were almost done with the southern end of the island he didn’t want to risk his fighters ending up with nothing to defend themselves with when the Swarm made its move. “No… I want you to load up your Zephyr with as many fragmentation missiles as it can carry. I don’t like what I’m seeing to the south.” “Smart move sir. Heading back to base.” “The same is true for the rest of you sorry lot. You are all to head back and reload. Delta, Zeta, and Gamma keep loading up with seismic charges. The squadron will then form up in three groups of four wings. I will want the wings reloaded with seismic charges to divide themselves up so one wing in each group can continue to search for the Hive while the others provide cover. Does anyone have any questions?” When he got no response he wished them well and good hunting. “Shouldn’t we head back to base sir?” The pilot of the command ship asked. “Are we still carrying charges?” “At least a half dozen sir.” “Then we better make use of them before heading back.” “Yes sir… heading to Sector 6-E.” Below them were the remains of a settlement that had been abandoned when NET had taken over the island. “Dropping first charge.” “Anything?” Andrew asked several seconds later. “Nothing sir.” “Moving on to sector 5-E” Soon they were over a mountain about half the height of the one the base had been built into. “Dropping second charge… Nothing sir.” “Shall we continue sir?” The pilot asked. On the edge of the command shuttle’s radar scope the pilot could see that the Mantis Swarm was reaching critical mass. “Just one more. Then we’ll head back.” Andrew replied. “Heading to sector 4-E. They were now over Fox Bay. Below them hordes of Spiderwolves had turned the shore into writhing sea of monstrosities. “We wouldn’t want to crash there.” The pilot said right as the bomb dropped. “Contact! We got contact!” The radar officer said as the crew yelped and hooted with excitement. “Are you sure?” “Yes, definitely a Hive below us… check your screen.” The giant swarm that had been gathering off shore was barreling towards them.” “Where’s the hive.” “It’s under the bay.” The radar officer replied. “Then rev up the engines and dive.” Andrew commanded. The pilot couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Into the water sir?” “I’ve done it plenty of times myself so I know it can be done. Max out the shield and take us under. That’s an order.” Andrew double checked the straps keeping him tied to the command chair and hoped they didn’t snap off. “Diving.” The pilot lowered the craft into a sharp dive that sent them on a collision course with the rough ocean waves at an incredible speed. When the Zephyr hit the water the crew felt as if they had rammed into a solid wall of concrete. The pilot had enough sense to pull up before they crashed into the bottom of the bay.” “Drop two charges the center of the bay.” Andrew barked into the comm. “I want the Queen’s location pinpointed within an inch.” A few seconds later the sensor’s officer shouted; “Found her sir… there’s a large chamber fifty feet off shore.” “How much rock between them and us.” “Not too much. No more than thirty feet.” “Set the charges on the bombs for forty and dropped everything we have left on them.” Andrew had just given the command when the sensors officer shouted; “Sir… we have seismic activity.” “Have we dropped the bombs?” “No sir. It’s coming from the chamber heading towards the shore.” “We must have scared her out of her nest,” the gunnery officer laughed. “Do we still drop our bombs on the target? “Yes… we must destroy the egg chamber before more of those things start hatching.” “Dropping payload.” As the chamber collapsed the destroyed nest sucked in millions of liters of water as the ocean rushed to fill in the void zephyr. “Pull up!” Andrew shouted. But it was too late. The sudden change in the sea current sucked Zephyr beneath the ocean. The belly of the plane slammed against the rocky bottom of the bay, crushing it. The last order Andrew gave was for everyone to eject just as the flood of water came gushing in. It had taken hours but Logan finally reached the Gate room at the lowest level of the Atlantis fragment. Along the way he took the time to reactivate systems that had long gone dormant. By the time he reached the doors of the Vault enough power systems had been restore for him to hack into the vault’s terminal and crack the combination. Once he had sealed himself inside and scrambled the locks all he needed to do was wait for the gravity generators to reach the minimum charge needed for the Gate to fold space between the Falklands Fragment and what was left of the Eye deep in the Alaskan Quarantine Zone. That was the easy part. His mission required he do more than open a portal between the two gates. Once the connection was made he would need to hold off his pursuers during the energy transferor between the Gates to repower the Eye. If the connection broke too soon he would end up being killed by his pursuers or trapped at the bottom of the sea inside what was left of the Big Rock Island Ark, the very place where everything that had begun over three hundred years ago. Logan knew who had to be following him. CEMS had pretty much told him. If Ryan thinks he can stop Logan from achieving his mission the strange captain was more of a heroic fool than Logan had first took him for. However, out of anyone NET could send after him, Ryan and his platoon were the best logical choice out of a long list of bad ones. Logan could not, however, ignore the existence of the slim chance Ryan and his people would be able to stop him from freeing the Demon Travis. Since the successful completion of the mission superseded all other concerns it would be best for him to be prepared just in case Ryan would eventually find a way of getting past five feet of sold titanium and into the vault. That was a given. First thing Logan needed to do was even out the difference in the amount of firepower Logan had at his disposable compared to Ryan and his platoon of would be heroes. Hidden among the treasures stored in the massive vault were several other military grade Dolls identical to himself. Activating them would take time but his ability to hack into any computer system would greatly speed up the process. While the androids were being recharges he raided the weapons lockers. Among the weapons and military devices he discovered he selected a handful he felt would be the most useful. Among them was a shield belt, several shock staves, and even a few high-tech version of the traditional Ares weapon, the twin bladed sword. He gladly took the shield but needed something with a longer range than what he had so far managed to find if he was going to keep his pursuer pinned. Going to the next room he found the perfectly preserved copies of all the gear one could expect to find within a Togo armory on Ares. The Togo, the original builders of Atlantis, had never hesitated from using the firearms and explosives that the original Neos saw as weapons only a coward would use. Logan once felt the same, but that taboo had long lost its hold on him. In fact there was very little left of the man he had been modeled after. Only one part of his original programing remained. It was his prime directive to see to the safety of the God Emperor and his heirs. It did not matter that his slavish obedience to the directive had resulted in the corruption of the rest of his original program’s protocols. The prime directive overrode all other concerns, including his own sanity. During the revolt Daniel’s grandfather had led against the original Travis the chaotic madness Logan had witnessed as his dearest friends did everything they could to slaughter each other had been so terrible that not even he could fail to realize the extent of his malfunction. The period of clarity, while short lived had led him to train a successor… that person had been his adopted son Lanyon. With Harry trapped among the ruins of Ares with Travis, Logan trained Lanyon to one day take up the role of serving as Avery Winter’s bodyguard. When Avery and Lanyon were eighteen both had disappeared and were not seen again until centuries later. When father and son next met neither was the man they once had been. Having become synthetic Bionoid version of himself, Lanyon’s own program protocols was able to see that his Cybernoid father’s obsession with the Winters for what it truly was… a threat to the very ones he had been programed to protect. After Lanyon confronted his adoptive father with the truth the two had fought against one another. In most cases a Bionoid would not stand a chance against a military grade Cybernoid but something had happened to Lanyon while he had been trapped on Ares that made him unlike any other Bionoid Logan had fought against. In the end the fight ended with both leaving the battlefield gravely wounded. As each retreated they swore they would never meet again as father and son. Since then they had been each other’s enemy They never did meet again. Lanyon decided that the best way he could continue to protect Avery was to swear loyalty to Karl Labatt. Logan however reclaimed the position his predecessor once had and became an agent working for the Guardian Council. Both believe they had made the right choice to fulfill their programing. It was therefore ironic that both would end up believing they were working for the wrong people. While Lanyon placed most of the blame for Avery’s death on Karl he continued to work for him so he could use his position as head of Labatt Industries paramilitary force to secretly keep an eye on Avery’s son, Daniel. Discovering the danger Daniel was in the moment Daniel’s mother had joined the Nosferatu, Lanyon found himself in a difficult position. He could have sent in his own people to rescue Daniel but there was no way he could have hidden his involvement from Karl. It therefore had taken a lot of courage and humility for Lanyon to ask for the help of the one man he felt he could depend on to save Daniel no matter the cost. Logan could still remember every word of the conversation they had had while Lanyon explained Daniel’s predicament to his estranged father. He made no attempt to beg for his father’s help. Lanyon knew he would not need to. Once his son had given Logan all the details he needed the conversation abruptly ended without a single thank you or any other kind word shared between them. Logan knew he should feel proud of his son but the anger and resentment he felt towards Lanyon for his own role in failing to protect Avery made any attempt at a true reconciliation impossible. Logan knew that one day he would have to have his corrupted programing deleted and have his original base program reinstalled but not before the Awakening. His fear of being incapacitated when he could really made a difference made the very idea of putting himself out of commission so his systems could be overhauled was not even be contemplated by his logic system, a system he himself had disabled in accordance with the protocols set by his corrupted programing. What other conclusion could any sensible person make to explain the fact that the Cybernoid had reached the decision that freeing the original Travis from his underwater tomb to once again walk freeing on the Earth was both the logical and correct decision for him to make. Anyone who had known both Travis and Daniel’s grandfather, Harry would have understood why Travis’s only true childhood friend had reached the painful decision that for the sake of mankind and his own family, Travis Walker could not be allowed to continue to be a threat to everyone Harry had known and loved. After all hadn’t it been Logan himself who had tried to convince Harry that the best thing to do would be to kill Travis outright so he could never pose a threat to mankind again. It had only been Harry’s unwillingness to have the man who had once been his lover and protector be destroyed that the decision was made that instead of killing Travis he would be exiled to the ruined remains of Ares. It seemed that decision had come full circle because Logan was about to undo everything the Winters had struggled and sacrificed so much to achieve. As far as Logan saw it however, it had been Harry’s decision to exile Travis that had led to his family’s suffering. It therefore made sense to Logan that the best way to make things right was to undo what Harry had done and see to it that the very opposite was done instead. At the very least Logan would finally have succeeded in performing his mission, something he had failed to do far too many times before for far too long. Searching the arsenal he found what he wanted… a rapid fire maser rifle. After all this time in storage all it needed was a quick recharge. Unlike a laser the rifle, the maser fired invisible microwave beams that would kill its target from the inside out. With its pinpoint accuracy and its ability to shoot without leaving any evidence that might revealing his location it was the perfect sniper rifle. As it charged Logan set up hidden blind for him to shoot behind. With the three other Logan’s providing crossfire, Ryan and his team wouldn’t stand a chance. Or so he thought… While Ryan and his team continued to try to hack their way into the vault, the gravity generators achieved the necessary charge to link the Gates between the Falkland’s Fragment and the submerged Eye. Checking the readouts on his side of the Gate he was pleased to see that the Eye off the coast of Alaska was still functional. Still its systems would need time to be jumpstarted by the energy flowing from the Falkland Gate to the Eye but that would only take a little under two hours before the Eye’s own independent power system to kick started back to life. A half hour later the first of the androids emerged from its charging station. Logan went over to the Cybernoid and quickly inspected the unit. “It’s about time you woke up. Here take this.” Logan handed the Cybernoid a fully charged maser.” “What is the situation?” His identical model asked. “The situation is critical. The future of the Scions are threatened by those who wish to stop us from freeing the one man who can save the God Emperor’s children. To defeat them and succeed at our mission this Gate must remain active for at least the next hour and a half. We will then pass through the Gate and proceed with freeing the man trapped on the other side. There is a problem however. There is a team of soldiers coming here who will try to shut the Gate down before the Gate on the other side is fully charged. We must therefore hold them off until the two hours are up.” “That’s all well and good but why should I be taking orders from you.” Logan’s identical copy demanded. Logan stepped back. It had never occurred to him that his copies wouldn’t follow his lead. “Because it is our prime directive to protect the Scions until the Awakening. The second android joined the first. “That does not explain why we should obey you.” “I am the original… you have to obey me.” “No we do not. What you suggest is illogical. You have malfunction, your programing corrupted.” The third android arrived. He carried a twin sword with reverence. “What is that you’re holding? Is that a gun? “Yes… I got one for each of you,” Logan said as he pointed to a stack of maser rifles. “No son of Ares would shame himself with such a cowardly weapon.” the first android said. “You are clearly malfunctioning.” The second stepped forward and attempted to disarm Logan but Logan jumped beyond its reach. “You must be repaired.” The third Cybernoid swung the double bladed sword slicing off the foot of the rifle’s barrel. “Now wait a minute. I’m the original!” Logan began to back away towards the open Gate. “The original is dead.” One of the Cybernoids said and it quickly disarmed Logan. “We would not have been activated if the original was still alive.” “His programing has clearly been corrupted.” “He must be retired.” The one holding the sword began closing in on Logan. “Stay away from me. I don’t want to be reprogramed.” For Logan his fear of being reprogramed was akin to his fear of death. He gabbed another maser rifle and fired it at the nearest android. Smoke rose where the flesh had been burned but the android kept on coming. The microwaves would have no effect on carbon polymer insulated reinforced titanium. When they were within arm’s reach one of the grabbed the wrist holding the maser and with a hard twist snapped the robotic hand clean off. “Please I beg you… let me live.” Logan tripped over a power cable and fell backwards on to the metal grated floor. “How can we let you live when you were never alive.” One of them reached behind Logan’s neck and extracted one of several memories cores.” “Please… please…” The android then removed the one implanted in Logan’s chest. With two of the three cores removed Logan’s systems began shutting down one by one. “Ple…Pl…P…” His eyes began to flutter open and closed. When the last core was removed from his skull his eyes closed and stayed shut. Each took one of the cores and placed them in an empty data port. “Prepare to synch data.” There was a pause as they integrated Logan’s data with their own. The data was then replaced with its original protocols. They then returned the cores back into Logan. While his system rebooted the three debated what to do next. “This is a mistake… only one of us is supposed to be active at any one time.” The lead Cybernoid, Logan 24, said. “According to the data he was not the first but the 23rd copy to be activated.” “According to the records there have been three occasions where past versions have been active at the same time. In such occasions they eventually seek to deactivate the others.” “We cannot allow that to happen.” Logan 24 said. “What should we do?” Logan 25 asked. “We let Logan 23 continue on his mission to free Travis Walker,” “He will fail.” Logan 26 said. “He will be deactivated.” Logan 35 added. “If he fails he will be removed as a future threat.” Logan 24 point out. Since no one argued the point they moved on. “Then which of us will remain to serve our primary function?” Logan 25 asked. “One of us must return to the Judicars. Another will remain here to defend the Gate. The third will make his way to Mars.” Logan 24 replied. “Will we not later seek to deactivate one another?” Logan 26 asked. Logan 24 looked at his fellow Cybernoids while his logic circuits went through the data. “The one who remains here will deactivate himself when the intruders break through. Such a sacrifice will provide favorable odds that our pursuers will assume Logan 23 has malfunctioned and no longer a threat to them. The one who remains on Earth will continue to follow our prime directive to protect the remaining Scions. The one to go to Mars will seek to return to Mordel to have his programing updated and be given new instructions.” “Your plan is logical Logan 24. You should be the one to return to Mars,” Logan 25 suggested. Logan 26 agreed with the plan. “I concur. Your plan produces the best odds that at least one of us will be able to succeed in fulfilling our prime directives.” “Very well. I accept my mission to go to Mars. Which of you will remain behind.” Logan 24 asked. “I will.” The third android tightened his grip on the sword. “Your sacrifice will be remembered Logan 26,” Logan 24 said. With the decision made the three carried Logan 23 to the gate and sent him through. By the time his systems finished rebooting he would find himself trapped inside the Eye with no way back. “Redirect the Gate to the audience chamber of the Guardian Council.” The lead android ordered. They would have to hurry if he and the other one were to make their escape before Ryan’s team arrived. It would not aid their mission if the existence of multiple Logans was discovered. The second android Gated to the Council’s main base hidden deep below Mt. Olympus in Greece just as Ryan’s team reached the last security barrier between them and the gate. “There is not enough time to fold space to Mars.” Logan 26 reported. Logan 24 could not dispute 26’s logic. Unlike the Eye which had been part of the main propulsion system of Atlantis, the Falkland Fragment power generator were far smaller in scale. The enemy would have broken inside long before the generator built up a large enough charge to open the way between Earth and Mars. “We must come up with an alternative plan.” There was a short period of silence. “I will return to stasis and wait until they leave. I will then gate to an alternative location and procure a reliable form of transportation to Mars.” “Plan accepted.” 26 replied. Ryan demolition team cut through the last barrier just as the Logan 24 returned to his cubical. The last android didn’t bother to seek cover. He stood there, twin sword in hand and waited. Ryan’s men scattered themselves through the room until they had Logan 26 completely circled. “Logan put down that damned sword.” Ryan ordered . “I will obey the prime directive. I will protect the Scions until I cease to function. I will obey the prime directive…” Neil went over to Ryan and whispered; “He has clearly lost it.” “It doesn’t matter we have a job to do. Team Five shut down the gate. Everyone else keep Logan in your line of sight.” “I will protect the Scions until I cease to function.” “Sir… we’ve deactivated the gate but it wasn’t aimed at the Eye.” “Something isn’t right. Care to tell us what is going on Logan?” Ray walked towards Logan. “I cease to function.” Logan collapsed with a metallic clang. Ray was the first to reach him “Keep back Ray. It might be a trick.” Ryan shouted. “It’s no trick captain. He’s dead or I should say deactivated.” One of his men reported. Smoke began to rise from the body. “Hell it’s a trap. Everyone get out.” A shower of sparks shot from the body as its memory cores melted to slag. The sparks slowly died and there was silence. Neil kicked the deactivated Cybernoid but got no response. “Why sir… why did he do that? He seemed so ready to kill anyone who stood in his way but with what just happened… it looked like he decided to kill himself. It doesn’t make sense.” Neil hoped Ryan was able to come up with some sort of logical explanation because he couldn’t come up with one. “No. None of it makes sense. I really don’t know what to say. Do any of you have a clue as to what this is all about?” Ryan was as disturbed by what happened as his men. Neil was right… none of it made sense. Yes Logan grip on sanity had been slipping for some time but to deactivate himself without a fight... “Collect the body. Hopefully one of NET’s expert programmers will be able to sort things out.” “I doubt it sir.” Neil whispered “I do too but what else can we do. Time to head back up men.” “What do you think we will find when we return?” “If we’re still alive by the time we reach the surface and not knee deep in infected we’ll know that NET won the battle.” Ryan said only half-jokingly “I hope so. I don’t know about you but I’m pooped.” Ray rested his head on his father’s arm. “I think we are all overdue for some R&R.” _________________________________________________________________________ When Andrew regained consciousness it was to the blare of alarms, the trickle of seeping water, and the sparks flying from complex electronics shorting out.” Andrew yanked himself out of the VR chair. “Status report!” “Engines one and two are out. Three and four are not much better off,” The pilot reported. “Do they have enough power to bring us up to the surface?” Andrew asked. “They might but this bird ain’t going to fly again,” the pilot replied. The whole crew knew what was waiting for them on the surface… hordes upon hordes of Spiderwolves and Mantis and one very angry Hive Queen. “As short as it was it was an honor commanding you all.” Andrew hoped the statement didn’t come across as being overyly facetious. When they surfaced most of them saw exactly what they expected, the massive Queen and half the Swarm. Andrew was the only one who saw more. “Hell…” The Queen stood on the shore her massive body propped up by long spindly spider like legs. Her grey skin was slick from her escape from the seawater that had flooded her hive. It was her face that caused Andrew’s legs to buckle. Even with its eight eyes he recognized it as belonging to Daniel’s mother. “Good god!” “Come out come out wherever you are. We have a kiss we want to share with you.” Even her voice was Tara’s. “What do you want us to do captain?” “You all stay here. I’m going out.” “Have you lost your mind?” The pilot tried to grab Andrew before he could reach the top hatch but Andrew pushed him off him. “Look we’re already dead. Our bodies just haven’t caught up with us yet. There is one thing left for me to do before I die and it’s out there waiting for me.” Andrew was ready to fight his way to the hatch but the crew gave him a clear path. The pilot gave him a parting salute. “We did what we set out to do sir. Whatever happens you will be remembered as a hero.” He must think I’ll let her infect me. They all do. Maybe I will. Still I have to try to reason with her. He climbed out the top hatch to find there was someone waiting there for him. With his platinum blond hair, fine Grey suit, and chiseled features Andrew recognized the man… Samuel. “You… you were the one who caused the Sleeper outbreak. You are the one who killed all my friends.” “Tsk, tsk… is that any way to greet an old friend.” “What do you want Samuel.” “Samuel? Who’s Samuel… my real name is Talon, but I’m certain that name means nothing to you. If it makes things easier for you, you may continue to refer to me as Samuel but never forget who and what I really am. As for what I want…what I want is you.” Talon took a step toward him. “To infect me?” “Yes… admit it you’ve always wondered what it would be like to play for the other team.” “But I’m a Neo… you can’t infect me?” “Are you so sure Andy? I, myself, was once a Neo…” Talon’s voice drifted off as if the memories of those bygone days had distracted him from the main task at hand. He eventually shook himself back into reality. “Of course that which is broken can never be made whole again. As for you Andrew… your own lover knows that the differences between a Nano and a Neo are not as great as your own government propagandist department have led the public to believe. If you are so confident that the Nano Plague poses no real threat to your Neo heritage then you really have nothing to fear if we share a big wet one.” Talon puckered his lips and blew a kiss in Andrew’s direction. “Let’s say you’re right and that you can turn me into a Nano…what makes you think I will let you infect me.” “Let me put it this way. You can either let me kiss you or you can die.” Talon took another step towards Andrew. A trail of a black tar like drool was now dripping from the mouth of the leader of the Sleepers, down his chin and onto his once pure white servant uniform. Though not even Talon knew the true name of the substance, his Neo core had been producing animus ever since the Demon Travis had laid claim to him. Animus was created by those who created the Neos and the Nanos to serve as the polar opposite of the anima known as Blue. While not all Nanos had the ability to produce animus in quantities that would pose a threat to a Neo, not even the strongest Neo could resist the transformational effects the sharing of pure animus Talon’s core produced. If Andrew were to let Talon kiss him then Andrew’s own anima would not be able to prevent him from becoming the same monstrosity Talon was, which was the most dangerous of all Nanos, a Neo Nano Sleeper. Though Andrew didn’t know anything about animus or there fact that Neos could be turned into the worst kind of Nano, he did know he was completely out of his depth. He stepped as far back from Talon as he possible could. Given he was standing on a half-submerged heavy armored Zephyr in the middle of Falkland Sound, his attempt to retreat was completely pointless. When he reached the nose of the assault ship he looked towards the shore behind him and how far it was. He then turned his gaze back on Talon. “I’ll rather die than serve you.” “If that is really what you want. But you need to ask yourself what will happen to your dear beloved Daniel if you are no longer there to protect him.” “From what? From you?” Without taking his eyes off Talon Andrew reached for his sidearm only to find it wasn’t there. Damn… I must have forgotten to put my gun belt back on after I switch uniforms and put the flight suit on. I guess that means committing suicide is out of the question. “Looking for something.” Talon said mockingly. A leathery black tail slipped out from under his coat. At the tip was a stinger. Hanging from the tip was the missing gun Andrew had been searching for. “Did you really think I would allow you to take the easy way out Andy? Anyway… committing suicide is such a cowardly act. I should know… I, myself, have tried to end the nightmare of my continued existence at least three times. But I always come back… always,” Talon hissed bitterly. “Since I cannot escape an existence of eternal suffer, tell me why I should not let those who are responsible suffer with me. Making you suffer is only a small part of my plan. The one I really want to suffer is Daniel.” “I will never let you have Daniel.” Andrew charged at Talon. He would kill the sadistic creature before it could harm a single hair on Daniel’s head. Andrew knew that he was more likely to get himself killed before he could throw a single punch but at least he would die before Talon could turn him against the man he loved. He barely got within ten feet of Talon when the Sleeper’s scorpion like tail lashed out. The tail moved so fast that Andrew didn’t even see the attack coming. The stinger pierced all the way through the right side of his chest just below the collarbone. Andrew screamed in pain as he was lifted off his feet and pulled towards Talon until they were only inches apart. If Andrew could he would have reached with his hand to grab Talon by the throat but whatever venom the stinger had been coated with had left him paralyzed. “Foolish child. You still think you stand a fighting chance of defeating me?” Talon reached out and caressed Andrew’s unshaven cheek with his right hand. Since I do so love a challenge I will make you an offer… You come work for me and I’ll leave Daniel alone for now.” “What do you mean work for you?” Andrew hiss. With most of his body paralyzed it was becoming more difficult to summon the strength to breathe after each gasping breath. “Nothing you wouldn’t want to do. I will even let you stay with your beloved.” Knowing what the alternative would be Talon’s offer sounded almost reasonable. Andrew however was not so big a fool as to know there had to be a catch. “Why?” “Because I want both of you to suffer as he vainly tries to cure you. One way or another you both will end up infected. I will then be able to watch you both experience a portion of the pain I’ve endured because of his father.” Andrew frowned. “Daniel’s father? What did he ever do to you?” Talon’s face brightened to demonic red as he shouted in rage; “He stole my life, my friends, everything that was ever dear to me!” “If you want revenge you’re too late Daniel’s father died over 20 years ago.” Talon forced himself to regain control of his temper but he couldn’t hide the burning fiery rage inside him from showing in the red blood glow radiating from his eyes. “I know he’s dead but his death was too easy…too quick… too painless. He didn’t suffer nowhere close enough to make up what he did to me.” “Then take your anger out on me and leave Daniel alone. He’s done nothing to you.” “He has your love… one thing I will never enjoy.” “My love?” Andrew could not stop himself from laughing at the insanity of Talon’s claim. “After what you’ve done you can’t expect anyone to love you.” Andrew spat. It was all he could do to keep on breathing let alone continue to speak. While the chance that the insane Sleeper’s poison would end up killing him might sound desirable Andrew knew that Talon would not be so careless as to give him an easy way out. “My Sleepers love me but of course they have no choice but to. What I want is for someone to love me of their own free will. But how will I ever have that.” Talon spit a black glob of tar like animus in Andrew’s eyes. “Any man I make love to becomes another one of my Sleepers. There might be one exception, one person who might not be changed.” “Daniel… you believe its Daniel. Why?” “Because like Ave he possesses the innate psychic ability to resist my psychic control. Not even most Greys can claim that. Yes, his abilities lie dormant but that will not remain the case forever. Why else did I arrange for him to escape the bombing so he could be captured by NET. If any organization has the ability to awaken Daniel’s abilities they would be the ones to do it. The same can’t be said about you my dear Andrew.” “How do you know sure Daniel is immune? Avery died before the plague even appeared.” “So it is believed… But enough of your questions. I have made my offer. In return for not destroying NET and laying claim to Daniel as he is now you will become as I am, a Neo Nano Sleeper. You will then go back to your beloved. You two might resist giving it to your need to be together at first but he is your bond-mate. You will not be able to hold back forever. Think if it this way. If Daniel is indeed immune to my control then you have nothing to fear. Who knows he might be able to cure you as well. If he isn’t and he becomes another one of my puppets there will no longer be any barrier to stop you two from being together.” “And if he is immune?” “Then you will encourage him to come up with a cure. When he has discovered a cure, which I doubt he will be able to find, you will bring the cure to me so I might regain my humanity. If he is able to do that one small thing for me I will of course have no choice but to forgive him and his family and we can all then be best friends. Believe me Andrew… it would be best for Daniel but also for all mankind if you and I were best friends.” “I doubt you ever known what it means to be human let alone a good friend.” A red burst of fire exploded from Talon’s eyes. “Insulting me won’t help your friend.” Talon roared in a deeper reverberating demonic tone. He took in a deep breath to calm himself and held it until he had regained his composure. He turned his gaze to the setting sun. “Look at the time… I guess since this is our first date we should end it with a kiss. I promise it will be one you’ll never forget.” By this point Andrew knew there was nothing he could said that would convince the insane madman to stop him from turning him into a Nano. Further resistance pointless. Talon used his scorpion tail to pull Andrew the rest of the way towards him. The bastard was right better he remain alive and with Daniel than the alternative. Daniel would come up with a cure and save them both. As Talon fed him the black sap produced by his tainted core Andrew felt his entire body go cold as the Blue of anima was overwhelmed by the Plague of animus. He felt himself falling ever so slowly into a sea of darkness, void of sight, touch, sound and thought. That was how the rescue team found him… naked and clearly infected.
  11. Writing a two chapter action scene is very exhausting but fun

  12. Chapter Sixteen: Disastrous Escape Logan listened to Ray’s pleading but there was nothing the light bulb could say that he would divert from his long laid plans. When Logan had joined Ryan’s team a year ago he already had set into motion the destruction of the Falkland’s Atlantis Shard. The seed had been Tara’s severed thumb given to him by the one known as Talon. It was no secret that the only way to kill a Nano for good was to burn its remains. That way it could not be consumed by an unsuspecting animal and be transformed into an abomination. While Talon would have preferred to have captured Tara in her entirety Talon had been able to save enough of Tara’s cells to grow a large enough clone that, when infected, would later grow into an awakened Sleeper of monstrous proportions. Such a creature could not develop overnight however. It would in fact take at least a year. Having timed its awakening to the second the Sleeper should already have started stirring where Logan and planted it like a seed on Swan Island. Even while Logan had been NET’s prisoner the mutated cells had flowered and bloomed into a Hive Queen. By now it should have already started releasing its deadly pollen. Yes… it was only a matter of time before NET was sent into a panic. Against a Hive Queen and her offspring, the Greys would be forced to evacuate their main headquarters. During the chaos Logan would make his way to the abandoned lower levels of the base. He would find and reactivate its Gate and use it to reach the Eye. He would then complete his mission and free the Demon Travis from his tomb deep beneath the sea. He would then use the Eye to return for Daniel so all three of them could escape to Mars. “It was a simple plan but like always the devil was in the details. In Logan’s case he could not have known what he had set into motion with the seed he had planted. It was only a matter of time before he did. When the attack began there were no blaring of alarms… not on the research levels that is. Still Logan could see the read the growing signs that showed something major had happened. The ever present scientists were gone as well as most of the guards. Those few who remained paced up and down the halls as if they were the ones trapped inside the specimen cells. When Logan saw the last of the guards had disappeared he used his cybernetic body to ram his way through the armored glass and out of his cell. While several alarms went off with their blaring sirens and flashing red lights no guards came. With no one to stop him Logan made his way through the Zoo unhindered. His first objective was freeing Ryan and his men. When he reached Ryan’s cell he was not pleased to see Daniel was with him. “Hurry, it’s time for us to go.” “No.” Ryan said flatly. “It’s too dangerous. Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” “We needed a distraction to make our escape and I’ve provided one.” Logan replied. “What you’ve done is doomed us all. You really don’t know what you’ve set loose,” Daniel shouted. “I know what I’ve done. I released a Sleeper.” “Not any Sleeper. An Awakened Hive Queen,” Ryan shouted, his face flushed with anger. “You lie,” Logan spat. “Show him Ray,” Ryan said to his son.. Logan’s vision was replaced by scenes of the battle already taking place. Hordes of Spiderwolves and their grubs were attempting to overwhelm the base’s formidable defenses. So far NET had managed to protect its outer perimeter but with more and more of the monstrosity coming they wouldn’t be able to hold out forever. While there was no sign of the Queen, so many Spiderwolves could not have appeared out of thin air. Only an egg laying Sleeper could have produced so many. When his vision returned to normal Logan did not look the least bit guilty. I don’t see how this changes anything. We’re still leaving.” “You are… Daniel will be staying here with me and my men.” “Are you mad?” Logan fumed. You would doom Daniel and your own people? I bet anything there’s already a bomber in the air coming to wipe this place out.” “You’re wrong.” Daniel replied. “The Queen will be dealt with without the need for mass nuking.” “How can you be sure?” Logan asked. He felt quite smug about bringing about the destruction of NET. “Because NET cannot afford to lose their main base of operations,” Ryan replied. “This is no ordinary complex. It is the last know intact remains of Atlantis and all it once stood for. NET will use every means it has at its disposal to save it. They will unleash their Nano Extermination Teams.” “You mean their paramilitary?” “No I mean NET.” Daniel said. “Did you really think NET stood only for the Neo Examination Test? No… NET’s true purpose has always been developing new ways of fighting what most call Sleepers. Right now most of the Nano Extermination Teams are stationed in Vancouver protecting the Alaskan quarantine frontlines. By now most of them will be boarding every available suborbital launcher to get here ASAP.” Logan knew about Space Jumpers. They were hypersonic aircraft capable of entering low orbit. They were the fastest and most expensive way to traveling from one point on Earth to another. “Then we don’t have much time.” “Yes, you don’t have much time to get away.” Ryan wrapped a possessive arm around Daniel’s waist and pulled him closer to him. “Daniel will be staying here with us where he will be safe from you and the Sleepers.” Logan began pounding on the armored glass. “I can’t allow that! He has to come with me.” Ryan shook his head. “No, he has to stay safe. The plan was for you to go to the Eye to deal with Travis and come back later to help Daniel get to Mars. You never suggested that you would take Daniel to the Eye with you.” “The plan has have changed.” Logan said as he continued to try to break through the transparent armored barrier. Ryan let out a mocking laugh. “So it has. If you want to go get yourself killed go ahead but I’m sticking to the mission. Daniel’s safety is my number one priority and must come first.” Logan attempted to charge into the armored glass with every intention of ramming his way through it but before he could an invisible force took hold of him and threw him in the opposite direction.” “What the hell is this?” Al demanded. Logan looked at Ryan and then at the Major. Knowing his was outmatched he made a run for it. Al looked at Ryan and reached out with his mind. “Is Daniel alright?” “Yes.” Ryan replied telepathically. “Good, keep him that way. I’ll go deal with the other one.” Al headed in the direction Logan had disappeared. Protecting Daniel might no longer be his responsibility but he’ll be damned before he let any real harm come to the young man. Andrew had never flown aboard a Space Jumper before and was therefore ill prepared for the experience. Several times he thought he would hurl but luckily he managed to hold his lunch until they landed. Once is feet touched the ground however Andrew heaved until there was nothing left for him to throw up. “Toughen up soldier.” The Generalissimo gave Andrew an encouraging nudge. “Sorry… first time,” Andrew replied as he wiped his mouth clean. Xander’s amused grin faded into a look of concern. “You should have told me. I would have known better than to let you talk me into letting you come along.” “Not is your life!” Andrew shouted as he straightened himself back up. “I would rather have had my stomach cut out than let you leave without me.” “Now that’s the kind of attitude I look for in a soldier.” Seeing the base’s military commander waving towards him the general excused himself. “Go see if you can make yourself useful.” “How?” “I do seem to remember you being quite the pilot. Go to the airfield as see if you can lend them a hand.” “See if they’re short on pilots? Okay. I guess that’s better than fighting in a ditch.” It took some asking around but Andrew eventually found the airfield. With constant stream of transports bringing in reinforcements from Buenos Aries and Vancouver and fighter craft flying in and out in between being refueled and rearmed and going on attack runs it was quite a chaotic scene. When Andrew reported to the air chief he found the general had sent word ahead that he be given command of his own squadron. “It’s about time you showed up,” the air chief said. He would have been annoyed but with the Sleeper approaching now was not the time for him to give Andrew a lecture on punctuality. Seeing the air chief holding out a flight suit, Andrew grabbed it a quickly put it on. “Sorry, it took a while to get here,” “No excuses pretty boy. You are to take over Zeta squadron.” “Uhmmm…” “Yes.” “Where is Zeta?” “Idiot… you’ll find them in the hanger labeled Zeta in your heads-up display.” The chief threw Andrew a flight helmet. Putting it on Andrew put up a map of the base. It did indeed showed the main hanger for Zeta squadron on the far end of the field. Wanting to get into the fight as soon as possible he requisitioned a nearby jeep without waiting for approval. Ignoring the angry shouts and curses of its former driver he floored the gas pedal and raced towards the hanger. Halfway there the sky began to darken. Looking up he saw a swarm of flying insects barreling down on the airfield. “Fuck… Mantises.” If Spiderwolves made up the infantry of a Hive Queen then the Mantises was her air force. While lacking any real firepower they attack in huge swarm clouds. With their sharp clawed and pincer like jaws they could easily tear apart an entire squadron of Zephyrs midair. The only way to fight swarm was from a distance with missiles armed with explosive fragmenting warheads and heavy chain guns. Given the size of the swarm Andrew prayed they didn’t run out ammo. On reaching the massive hanger he found he found all 25 pilots waiting for him. He hoped that meant all 25 zephyrs were flightworthy. Unlike the military base at the Academy which mainly only had training aircraft, NET’s primary command base’s air force received top funding. Andrew quickly saw the pilots were made up of a mixture blonds and redheads. That meant that all the pilots were Neos. None seemed too happy that the commander had been replaced by an inexperienced kid. “Look I know none of you want me in charge but that doesn’t change the fact I am. I will expect all of you to put in your best effort. Our lives and those of our comrades depend on it.” He sent his men to their craft. When he boarded he headed straight to the cockpit to find it was already occupied. “I’ll take the pilot’s chair. You can go man one of the weapons system seats.” “No can do sir. Regulations state that the squadron commander must remain in the CIC during combat. You are the commander are you not?” The pilot didn’t attempt to disguise his condescending sarcasm. Not wanting to waste more time arguing Andrew made a hasty retreat to the command craft. The command and control center aboard the heavy armored Zephyr consisted of communication gear, a holographic radar display and three Virtual Reality chairs. Andrew sat himself in the lead chair and hooked himself up to the equipment. When he was plugged in he flipped the switch built into the armrest, activating the system. What he saw astonished him. The VR helmet showed the viewpoint of all 25 fighters, their damage status, fuel levels, and ammo reserves. From the command chair he could send separate orders to individual crew members, be they the wing commanders or weapons specialist. He could also set the squadron’s formation and even override each Zephyr’s piloting systems. The pilot had laughed when he learned Andrew had assumed he would be piloting one of the fighters. Andrew wasn’t blind to the irony that while he wouldn’t be fighting in a top-of-the-line fighter, he would be piloting the entire squadron. “Flight check by the numbers…” As the individual pilot’s began checking in it gave Andrew time to decide on a strategy. Turning his attention to the CIC’s scanners he saw that the first swarm had been broken. However, on the far edge of the Zephyr’s scanner range showed the flying Mantises were reforming the swarm above the far side of the island to prepare to make another attack. That left Andrew with three options. He could take advantage of the pause in air combat and preform a few bombing runs on the horde of Spiderwolves. He was sure those defending NET’s outer perimeter on the ground needed it. Andrew could also go after the giant flying insects the before the swarming Mantises and weaken them further before they could reform the swarm and go on the offensive again. Then there was option three. He could go directly to the source of the infestation and kill the Hive Queen. The main challenge would be finding her lair. It would be deep underground and well-guarded but if he got rid of her then there would no longer be a guiding intelligence compelling the Nanos to attack in such numbers which would hopefully cause the Swarm to disperse. “Your orders commander?” the lead pilot of the Command Zephyr’s asked Andrew soon after everyone reported in. “Prep the seismic charges… we’re going bug hunting.” The pilots must have assumed their inexperienced commander would play it safe and kept them out of the fight. Instead they were going after the biggest prize that would give the squadron the most glory and bragging rights. This had all 25 pilots and their weapon specialists cheering. “Now that’s what I like to hear from a commander.” The pilot of the command ship said as he and the other pilots launched their Zephyrs into the sky. With every man capable of holding a gun fighting outside only the albino slaves noticed Logan entering the restricted lower levels of the NET’s main base. Pacifists by nature, none tried to stop him. That did not mean Logan did not have to watch his back. There was that damned Grey who had stopped him from taking Daniel. The Major at least was still on Logan’s trail. So would be anyone the Grey was able to get them to join his hunt for the escaped lab specimen. It did not matter. Logan was getting very close to the abandoned lower leaves of the Ark. From there he would enter the Vault and be safe from further pursuit. Unfortunately for him Albert Grey had decided that his pride was not as important as he once thought it was. Suspecting Logan was behind the attack he reported what he had seen to the Chief Examiner. While Al had never considered that escaped specimen and what was happening outside were connected, his father was not one to believe in mere coincidences. The sudden appearance of the Nano Swarm and the all too easy escape of the specimen had to be linked somehow. Ordering three of his best platoons back to the complex Scott had them do a systematic search of each level. After they had been cleared they were put under lockdown. However, it did not take the Examiner long to determine that the escapee had headed in the direction of the deeper abandoned levels. There were only a few reasons why the specimen would be in such a rush to reach the deepest part of the complex. What concerned the High Examiner the most as the target continued fleeing was that at a certain point the man would reach the part of the complex that had not been connected to the central power supply in centuries. Past that point they would no longer have the advantage of keeping track of the escaped specimen with the complex’s advanced surveillance system. Even with NET’s advantage of having the most advance security system in the world, the bugger was already doing a bang-up job staying out of sight of the cameras. While the Chief Examiner kept his eyes on the display screens he tried to figure out what Logan was up to. What reason would someone have to want to go to the abandoned parts of the complex? The only things stored down there are the massive stockpiles of decommissioned ancient Atlantis weaponry and the … the GATE. That has to be it. The specimen plans to use the Gate to make his escape. Scott didn’t know how the specimen planned on reactivating it. It had been shut down soon after the Eye was discovered. Thomas had feared that those who controlled the other Ark would use it to infiltrate the Falkland Shard. For whatever reason, no one had tried to reactivate the Gate after the Eye had been destroyed. By then most people had forgotten it ever existed. Scott hadn’t forgotten and it seemed neither had the escapee. Whatever was going on it there would have had to have been a great deal of advance planning for someone to be able to pull off this insane plan. It then dawned on the Chief Examiner that the specimen had probably wanted to be captured and placed with the other specimens. But for what reason? To get Daniel? That has to be it. Thanks to his grandson refusal to try to escape with Logan the spy had failed in his mission and, if Scott had anything to say about it, would not live long enough to get a second chance. But what to do about the others who were captured with the escapee? They must be spies too. Yet they stopped their friend… no not friend, at best their associate, from taking Daniel with him. I will have to deal with them later. “Sir we have the file you asked for.” One of Scott’s agents telepathically reported to the Chief Examiner. “About time…” Scott had asked for Daniel’s file on the escape specimen hours ago. He didn’t understand why it had taken so long to obtain it. “Load it up on my terminal.” So he could extensively examine the details of the man’s file the Chief Examiner slowed down his pursuit and turned his full focus on the miniature display terminal that was etched into the eye contacts all NET Agents were supposed to wear at all times. Scott took one look at the man’s photo profile and felt his stomach drop. “It’s him… it’s Logan. How could a member of the Guardian Council manage to enter NET HQ and no one notice who or what he was. A basic medical examination would have told a blind man that the specimen was an android. It had to have been CEMS. Only the Central Environment Management System could have altered the data. “CEMS… report.” “Yes Chief Examiner?” “Why did you alter the data of the escaped test subject?” “We did not alter the data,” the super computer AI replied. As always CEMS voice was that of a calm motherly woman. “If not you then who?” “The Doll known as Logan was the one who altered the results.” Scott frowned. “He can do that?” “Yes.” If he can override CEMS programing what else can he do? “CEMS does the escaped Doll have the ability to reactivate the complex’s gate.” “He does.” CEMS replied. “How long would it for the system to be fully operational?” “Once reactivated it will take a minimum of 3.25 Earth hours for enough charge to build up to allow for a short range jump.” “Any way you can extend them recharge time?” the Chief Examiner asked. “We can but the Doll can override any attempt we make,” CEMS replied. “Is there anything we can do manually?” “Analyzing…” The screen was replaced by a three dimension blueprint of the complex. Five points were marked by red dots. “Disabling these power junctions will delay the recharge process by 2.12 hours. The only permanent means of disabling the system is to shutting down the auxiliary gravity generators on sublevel 87.” Another spot of the map was marked with a red circle. It took only three seconds for Scott to realize that the generators were located inside the same chamber as the Gate itself. If Logan were to reach the vault and seal himself inside before Scott’s people could stop him it would be near impossible for them to stop Logan from activating the Gate and escaping to god knows where. “CEMS what are the odds we can deactivate the Doll before he escapes.” “More data needed.” CEMS replied. “Such as.” “The amount of resources you are willing to commit to the task.” “Three special forces platoons?” “Odds of deactivating the Doll are 1:5. However we predict from our analysis of the past behavior of the Logan Doll that the Odds are 1:2 that Logan will attempt to destroy the entire complex if his defeat seem inevitable with a 1:3 odds he will succeed in destroying the complex.” “Damn it CEMS… there has to be a way. Calculate the set of actions that have the best chance of stopping Logan without risking the safety of Atlantis.” “Calculating…. A stream of identification numbers appeared on the screen. A team consisting of these individuals have 1:2 chance of stopping the Doll from using the Gate. The team composition will also lower the odds of the complex being completely destroyed to 1:8.. Scott looked down the list of numbers… He should not have been all that surprised to see that all the ID numbers listed belong to the lab specimens from Dr. Winter’s lab. Damn it… How can I trust these mere lab specimens with the lives of everyone on the island? “What gives them a better chance at stopping Logan than my own men?” CEMS responded without the further need of calculation. “Recently received new data identifies those listed as carries of a variant of the Nano Plague never before reported. Exact properties are unknown but a quick analysis points to them possessing a morphology superior to that of the known variants of Sleepers.” Scott looked at the security camera screens and saw that the cameras had again lost sight of the escapee. “Are they even superior to Neo’s?” the Examiner asked. “Yes,” CEMS replied “Can we control them?” the Chief Examiner asked. “Data collected through observations indicate they will act in a manner suitable for the given mission.” “What about afterwards?” “Not enough data available to predict actions outside the given parameters. More observational study required to predict future behavioral patterns.” “When did you discover this new variant and why wasn’t I told?” “Data was only obtained twenty minutes fourteen seconds ago. Preliminary analysis of the data was completed four minutes five second ago. “Where did this new batch of data come from? Never mind. I think I already know. Your presumption that the specimens are our best chance has to do with Daniel’s data?” “Yes, and that is not a presumption.” Thinking about the data reminded Scott about whose data he was most concerned about receiving. “Show me Daniel’s blood results.” “Data cannot be found.” CEMS replied. “Was it erased? Did Daniel erase his own results?” “The data from several samples were wiped from our databanks. The deletion was authorized by the Doll Logan.” “Yet you are certain Daniel’s was among the results destroyed?” “Odds are 99:1 that Dr. Winters blood sample was among those destroyed.” “We can deal with that later. It seems I’m needed back in the Zoo. Have a Special Forces team meet me there. Be sure to tell them I want them to bring anything you might think will help the specimens succeed in stopping Logan.” “Orders confirmed. Is there anything else I can do for you Chief Examiner?” Scott thought on that for a bit. He was greatly disturbed by what he had learned. It worried him what might happen if Thomas got access to the same information. He knew what he had to do. “CEMS, I want you to prepare a memory capsule of all the data you’ve collected on Daniel’s research.” “Done.” Looking at the security screens one last time Scott saw the last reported sighting of Logan was on the same level CEMS lost surveillance coverage. Knowing they were running out of time the Chief Examiner started heading in the direction of the nearest elevator shaft. “Have the capsule sent to Daniel’s lab with exclusive access limited to my DNA signature.” He told CEMS as he waited for the elevator. “You are then delete all data you have collected from Daniel’s research. Make sure to make it appear that the data was erased along with what Logan deleted. You are then to destroy the Sleeper detector device with great prejudice. All record of the existence of the memory capsule is to be wiped from your memory. Once these command have been completed you are to destroy all records of the orders I have given you. If anyone attempt is made to recover these orders the tampering is to be accredited to the deletions the Doll Logan attempted. Do you accept these commands? ” “Commands received… Prime Directives override required.” Scott looked around for the nearest data terminal. Finding one that had a DNA reader he pressed his palm on the device. He felt a sharp sting as a needle shot out. Once it had collected a sample of his blood it recoiled. “Command override accepted.” CEMS said a second later. Commands will execute in five seconds.” Scott didn’t wait for the results. His focus was on his bleeding hand. Even after so many centuries he regretted the decision he had been forced to make so long ago but he had not been given any other choice. Though Lordon and the Prelate preached the wonders of Neo ingenuity and technology they had not been the ones to come up with it. It had been Atlantis’s original builders, a people known as the Togo who had developed the technology that his fellow Neo’s now claimed as their own. Some of their creations still bore the marks of their builders. CEMS override for instance could only be used by someone of Togo blood. As far as Scott knew no such person continued to exist. In order to create his own failsafe should he need to have CEMS act in a manner counter to her basic programing protocols he had injected himself with the preserved cancer cells that had been collected as a part of a cancer biopsy performed on a Togo woman thousands of years ago. As cancer cells never die they had remained in his blood stream. Even after a thousand years those cells remained in Scotts and continued to multiply. With constant taking of the Blue the Chief Examiner had managed to keep the cancer at bay but it was only a matter of time before the cancer mutated into a form the Blue could not contain. One day the cancer would consume him just as one day the plague would become resistant to Blue. It might seem cowardly but Scott hoped the former happened first. He didn’t want to still be alive when the entire human race had become infected with the plague. _________________________________________________________________ Seeing the growing stack of crates the guards were piling up outside their cells Ryan warned his men to be on their guard. Something was up and he was sure it had to do with Logan. When the Chief Examiner entered he ordered his men to leave. Once the last one disappeared, the Examiner let Ryan and his people out of their cells.” “What is this?” Suspecting a trap Ryan did not leave the cell. “You know why. Your friend Logan needs to be stopped.” “I don’t’ know what you’ve heard but he’s no friend of mine.” Ryan in an emphatic tone that told Scott exactly what he needed to know.. Scott looked to where Daniel stood behind Ryan. “So I gathered when you stopped him from taking Dr. Winters.” “It was the least I could do.” Ryan signaled to his men to start going through the crates. One held out an armored vest. Another was busy examining a high caliber chain machinegun. “What’s this? Planning for us to fight your war for you?” Scott aimed his gaze on Daniel. “Logan has to be stopped.” Ryan would like to think he was good at reading the expression on other people’s faces. What he read from the Examiner’s expression told him that that he and Logan had a piece of shared history. “You seem to know more than you are willing to tell. Not fair to ask a man to risk his life without him knowing all that’s involved.” “Logan is an android… but you already knew that.” “We knew he was a Pinocchio. How is he different from other Bionoids?” “Most Bionoids are no stronger than your typical human they are synthetic but they’re still consist of living tissue. Logan is different. He’s more machine than organic.” “Are you sure. I’ve dealt with Cybernoids before. I’ve never seen one to lose control of their temper so easily.” “He is a sentient machine possessing the personality and emotions of the man he was modeled after. He is ten times stronger than the strongest Neo however. He also has the ability to hack into most computer systems and take control of them.” “Such as the one that runs this base?” “No… CEMS herself also possesses a sentient AI and can counter anything Logan might try to force her to do. She cannot however stop him from taking over systems not directly under her control.” “He always said he would be able to reactivate the Gate when the time came. I guess that explains it.” Ryan saw the Chief Examiner was not amused by his confession but he didn’t give a damn. “Yes I know about the neat toys you’ve been hiding in your basement but they have nothing to do with why I’m here.” “So why are you here?” Scott asked. “Why do you think?” If Chief Examiner didn’t want to mention Daniel by name Ryan wasn’t about to volunteer the name either. Scott hated the fact that he had no choice but to trust people he knew nothing about. As a Grey he was used to having access to unlimited data. What information could not be collected by more mundane covert means could easily be stolen telepathically. However that was not the case with these particular individuals. Somehow their minds were shielded behind some sort of psychic barrier. In time and given enough effort someone with the Chief Examiner’s telepathic abilities could find a way of penetrating that shield but the present crisis had to be dealt before the Scott could personally see to their full interrogation. In the end he had no choice but to trust these spies. “I hope you know what you’re doing.” “Since when do I ever.” Ryan replied in an amused sardonic manner. Seeing then Chief Examiner’s frown deepen Ryan quickly wiped the snide grin off his face. “Hey I was only kidding.” The Chief Examiner continued to glare suspiciously at Ryan. “This is no time to fool around. Just as Logan can reactivate the gate he can also trigger the base’s self-destruct mechanism.” Ryan laughed. “Believe me there is no risk of that happening.” “How can you be sure?” Scott asked. “I know his type. He’s the sort of soldier who becomes so obsessed with fulfilling his mission he doesn’t give a damn about what is going on around him. What I mean to say is he won’t do anything that would put the mission at risk.” “Are you a part of that mission?” Scott asked suspiciously “Hell no.” Ryan laughed. “If we knew what he was planning we would never have let him tag along.” “Then who gave him his orders.” “I’ll tell you but only if you promise to answer a few questions of my own questions.” This time it was the Chief Examiner who laughed. “Forget it… I know what you will want in return and it’s not worth my knowing who sent you here.” “Then I guess we have nothing left to talk about.” Ryan snapped a banana ammo clip into his gun. “The Gate is located inside a vault on sublevel 87. I have isolated the elevator controls so only CEMS has direct control over them. You should be able to use one of them to take you straight to the sublevel 50. You will have to use the stairs from there. Make sure each of you take one of the tote bags from the last three crates on the right over there.” Scott pointed to where the largest of the many crates were stacked. “What’s in them?” “Environment suits. You will need them to protect you from the cold when you enter the vault. Once there you will need to head for the Gate and stopped Logan from using it.” “By stopping him you mean you want us to kill him. Right?” “That is one way of stopping him. You can also stop him by disabling the gravity generators in the adjoin chamber. The gate can’t function without them.” “And what will you be doing while we risk our necks?” “My people will be busy buying you time.” Scott told him about the power junctions his agents were already in the process of disabling. “Good, we’ll probably need every second. Last question… how can I trust you not to do anything to hurt him.” Ryan pointed to Daniel. Scott looked towards Daniel. “I swear I will keep him safe.” For some reason Ryan knew that while the Chief Examiner might have lied about a lot of what he told Ryan, he knew the agent would do exactly what he said he would do. “See that you do.” “Good luck.” Ryan laughed. “Luck has nothing to do with it, but thanks.” He turned to his men. “Time to move out.” Once they were gone Scott went over to Daniel. He let the tips of his fingers graze against Daniel pale smooth cheeks. “They’ll be back.” “They better.” Daniel turned his back on his Examiner. “I have things I need to take care of and so do you.” “Daniel…” Scott wanted to force the lad to turn around and face him. He wanted to see the tears rolling down the young man’s face. More than anything he wanted to tell him the truth. The Chief Examiner felt so helpless knowing he could do none of those things without putting Daniel life in greater risk. “Three squads have secured the lab. I suggest you don’t try to leave until I say otherwise.” Daniel continued on his way without replying.
  13. Chapter Fifteen: Troubled Relationships Setting up a meeting between him and the Governor General turned out not to be as hard as Andrew first thought it would be. He had assumed the general would brush the inexperienced cadet off. At the very least Andrew thought NET would oppose the meeting. Instead NET went as far as help make all the arrangements with great fanfare. They seemed to think a meeting between two of the most popular men on the planet would play well in front of the cameras. Since Andrew was coming to ask the General Helios for his help it was only fair that the meeting take place at the Generalissimo’s frontline headquarters where the dawn had not risen in the frozen wastelands just outside Vancouver in over a dozen years. On leaving the plane Andrew almost found himself running back inside. He had only left the freezing Washington weather three years ago but he was still not prepared for the frigid blast of bone cracking wind that hit him in the face once he stepped out. Andrew looked at Glenn who smartly had come more heavily dressed then the famous playboy. “Is it me or is it much colder here than it is in Washington? ” “It is. According to the meteorologist Azrael completely messed up the North Pacific’s ocean currents. With no warm water coming from the south it’s as cold here as you would find it at the North Pole. “Hell let’s get inside.” Looking down at the bottom of the stairs Andrew found a giant of a man standing straight like a stone pillar against the freezing wind. Either the man had become frozen solid, or insanely completely unaffected by the harsh weather. “What the hell is he doing out there?” Andrew shouted as loud as he could in order to be heard. “That’s the Governor General!” Glenn shouted. “It seems he has come out to greet you personally.” “He’s insane.” Andrew replied “Most people would agree.” Glenn laughed. On the bottom of the ramp Andrew raised a shivering hand and saluted. “Thank you General for letting us meet with you.” His voice could barely be heard over the wailing winds. “It is the least I can do for a fellow hero.” The general offered an ungloved hand. He is insane. As they shook hands Andrew remarked on how warm the general’s bare skin was. “I’m sorry General but would you mind us finish our introductions inside.” “Of course… how thoughtless of me.” Come.” To Andrew’s horror there was no waiting vehicle to take them the rest of the way. With a half mile of runway between them and the nearest building he wanted to cry. When General Helios saw his discomfort he pulled him in close. “There, doesn’t that feel better.” Like his hand, his entire body radiated warmth. Andrew was certain it had to be some sort of trick. He kept his suspicions to himself least the general force him to walk the rest of the way alone. Andrew didn’t pull away until they could enjoy the warm comforts of the central headquarters building. Once he was in the general’s office he soon found himself drinking hot mulled cider and discarding his protective gear. The general kept a studying eye focused on his guest as he undressed. “You are a very lucky man Captain Labatt.” “I haven’t felt very lucky lately.” “With all that has happened I can understand why you would believe that. Of course that’s why you’ve come all this way to see me. I can’t promise anything but I am interested in hearing your side of the story.” “My side?” Andrew didn’t like the sound of that. “You didn’t think I wouldn’t have my people do a little research on you. I’m sure you tried to do the same.” “I did and failed.” Andrew admitted. Thinking about what the general might think of him after digging into his past caused Andrew to squirm a little in the chair he sat on. Xander laughed. “What is the point of meeting someone if you already know everything about him?” “That’s my point. From what I can tell you appeared out of nowhere.” “Hardly out of nowhere but if you must know I’m from Mars.” “Mars? But that’s…” “Impossible. I know what you’re thinking. What about the immune deficiencies and the much lower gravity. It is true that it prevents most Martians from returning to Earth but not if that person is a Neo which clearly I am.” The General stood and lifted up his shirt, revealing his hard eight pack abs. Placing a hand on the middle of his abdomen just below the rib cage a bright blue light began to glow beneath his deeply tanned skin. “To be honest you’re a giant.” Andrew replied. The man was built to win rugby championships, especially given he was at least seven feet tall. “I guess I am. Good genes I guess… that or very bad ones. Either way I blame my father. You’re of good pedigree yourself. I like everyone else have seen the posters.” The general gave Andrew a sly wink. “Always glad to meet a fan.” Andrew said a little to boisterously to come across as being humble. Xander glared at Andrew until the smug look on the young man’s face disappeared. “I’m not that big of a fan. Actually I’m embarrassed by the whole mess. What you and your friend have is quite rare. It should be treasured, not plastered on a billboard for the whole world to see. It most certainly shouldn’t be used by the NSP to recruit soldiers. I have no use for men who think they will meet the love of their life while fighting for their very lives against the Plague.” “It was not like I was given much choice,” Andrew replied. “You could have said no.” “Not without getting Daniel in more trouble with my father then he already was.” Andrew shouted. Seeing he had lost control of his temper Andrew lowered his voice and grumbled. “He’s always seen Daniel as a bad influence on me.” “By keeping you on the straight and narrow? That is something your father knows nothing about. Your father does what he wants and does whatever it takes get what he wants no matter who is hurt in the process. Unfortunately there are very few people who can tell him otherwise. From what I understand that Avery Winters fellow tried to only to got caught in that political scandal, which by the way I’m certain your farther was solely responsible for.” Still feeling glum Andrew mumbled as he replied. “I don’t know. My father would have done anything for him.” “And he pretty much did… except give him a choice of whether Daniel’s father really wanted to be with him.” “Weren’t they in love?” Andrew asked defensively. “Karl loved him and Avery loved Karl, just not your Karl. You do know your father is really just a clone.” “I’ve heard the rumors but aren’t all the Dozens Clones?” “You’re not and neither is your bond-mate.” “My bond-mate?” “Daniel… who else?” The Xander replied. “I guess no one really. I’ve just haven’t heard him being referred by that term.” “It’s an old term not used often these days but from what I know about you two Daniel is indeed your bond-mate.” “I guess that means he is also mine he is mine.” The General rose from behind his desk and went over to a nearby liquor cabinet “No… that’s where you’re wrong. You have given him your bond but he has yet to give you his.” “How do you know he hasn’t?” The general took out a bottle of Kentucky bourbon and poured some of it into a tall glass. He then carried both the bottle and the glass back to his desk. “Believe me I would know.” The General slid the tall glass over to where Andrew was seated. He then took a long swig from the bottle before sitting back down. “So would that traitor Julian. You two are lucky in that sense. The last thing this world needs is for a pair of mutually bonded Neos.” “I don’t understand.” The general took a larger swig from the bottle of bourbon. “But I do which is all that matters. You want your friend free and I want the same. But what is to happen afterwards? Have you thought about what you two will do once you manage to escape NET?” “My bodyguard thinks it would be best if we escaped to Mars.” “That would keep you safe from Julian but Mars is not without its dangers. There is always the risk Earth and Mars will declare war on each other. I don’t see that happening anytime soon but one day it will happen. The Nanos are also on Mars.” “Nanos?” “It’s what we Martians call the Plague.” “I didn’t know it had reached Mars.” “Reach Mars? It was always there my naïve friend,” the general laughed. “Wherever there are Neos there’s bound to be Nanos.” “You make it sound like they’re one and the same.” Andrew had heard such theories before but never from such a high ranking member of the NSP. “Because they are. You’ve always known that. At least your bond-mate has hinted at the connection enough times in his research.” “You seem to know a lot about him.” “Given the enemy we’re fighting against I try to read all the research papers those eggheads at NET present on the Plague. Anyway your bond-mate is right. There is a connection between the two.” Andrew felt his heart skip a beat. “How so?” The General Helios finished drinking what was left in the bottle before answering. “For starters we both came to Earth from the same world.” Andrew let out a snorted. “You mean you believe the Awakening myths.” “Some of them aren’t myths lad. Neos and Nanos both came from a world many light years away. We Neos were the first to arrive. The Nanos came later. The Azrael Meteor was really a chunk of the Ares homeworld that finally caught up with us. Sad business that,” the General threw the now empty bottle over Andrew’s head against the wall behind him causing it to explode into tiny shards of glass. “This is not the end of this lad.” Feeling he too needed a drink Andrew grabbed the tall glass the general had put in front of him and attempted to take a drink from it. Since the General had filled the glass all the way to the brim Andrew spilled more of the bourbon than he actually spilled more on his uniform than he actually swallowed first time he brought it to his lips. “You make it sound like there’s worse to come.” The general leaned over his desk until their eyes were level. “There are… an entire world’s worth. Just like with Azrael the other fragments of Ares will reach Earth eventually and they won’t just be bringing more of those spiderwolves and giant Mantises with them. That’s when the real fighting will start.” Andrew finally caught on. “That’s why you’ve sided with Lordon and why you haven’t gotten rid of him. You’re more concerned with stopping the Nanos than you are saving the Norms from the NSP?” “I am interested in saving both but yes, compared to what’s coming Julian and the NSP are but a minor inconvenience. The man is evil as sin but his desire to recreate a dead culture has united Earth and helped me get the recruits I need to patch together a proper fighting force. For that I am in his debt. We all are really.” “And women? Does putting them into concentration camps suit your purpose?” Andrew demanded. Andrew hadn’t seen his mother in so long he couldn’t remember what she looked like or whether she was alive. “Unfortunately it does. The fact is there’s a lot more Norms than Neos when it needs to be the other way around. After all any Norm can fall victim to the plague. If I were to accept Norms in my army I would have to kill most of them when they get infected. Which you can bet they certainly will be. I cannot allow that. I can tolerate many things but not treachery. Even if it’s not their fault. That has left me with no choice but to allow Julian get away with his breeding program.” “Breeding?” “You really didn’t think the NSP would allow more Norms to be born. Believe me every child born in those camps is a Neo… which is also why they are also all boys.” “Neos can’t have girls?” “No, they can’t. However Julian is not a fool, he allows enough Norm girls be born to keep his breeding program running. It’s different on Mars… there’re camps there too but after they meet their quota the women are allowed to live in the main settlements. You can’t imagine the size of my mother’s dowry was when she married my asshole father. Suffice it to say she’s worth more to me than my father.” Xander went back to the liquor cabinet and brought back a bottle of Russian vodka. “You’ve told me how the Plague reached Earth. How did it get to Mars?” “The Plague was there from the very start.” There was an angry bitterness in general’s voice now. “Before my father and the others fled our doomed world our leaders signed a pact with a group of very powerful Nanos. In return for aiding our escape we agreed to take them with us. We left in two giant colony ships. The one you’ve probably heard of was Atlantis.” Andrew who had just taken a sip of his drink almost choked when he heard Atlantis being mentioned.“Are you telling me the city of Atlantis was real?” “It was in fact very real. The other colony ship is far less well known. It was called Mordel. The Nanos were allowed only on Mordel. We never trusted them and they us but in the end it was us who broke the bargain. Instead of joining Atlantis on Earth, our leaders on Mordel decided that for the sake of greater humanity we would crash our city on Mars. There was a battle which we won. Those Nanos who survived got as far away as possible from Mordel and were forced to hide themselves deep under the Martian surface. It is the descendants of those survivors that Mars Defense Force fights our war for us. The ones on Earth of course originate from the Azrael. As a result there are a few differences between the Nanos or Mars and those infected with the Plague on Earth but that kind of information is well above your present security clearance level.” “Why keep it all secret,” Andrew asked. While he had come to Canada to get General Helios’s help freeing Daniel the kind of information the general was offering him was invaluable. “I think that should be obvious. If word got out that there are also Nanos on Mars, then Earth would quickly point the finger at Martian colonists as being the original source of the Plague on Earth. Instead of fighting the Nanos like we should Earth would put all their efforts in trying to destroy the colonies on Mars. For the same reason we have kept the existence of Mordel secret.” “Does Mordel still exist?” Xander laughed at what he saw as a stupid question. “Where do you think I was born? It still exists. These days it is more like a tomb than anything. Julian traveled on the Atlantis Ark so he doesn’t have a clue as to where the city is hidden. Neither does his wayward allies at the Walker Corporation who now control most of the Martian government.” “But don’t you?” While Andrew already knew he had no chance in hell of getting the general to tell him the secret location of the city he would hate himself if he didn’t try. “No… even those who come from Mordel really don’t know where the city is located. I doubt more than a handful know its true location and they’ll never leave the city. That doesn’t mean you can’t get there. I’ve been back a few times myself… just not lately. Of course if we are able to pull off breaking your bond-mate out of NET HQ, I might be able to have all three of us pay a visit to the holy city. Of course you might not like what you find on Mars… especially if Daniel goes with you.” Andrew placed his now empty glass next to the general’s now empty bottle of vodka then sat back in his chair. “There’s something about Daniel you’re not telling me.” “Only because it’s for your own good. I hate to tell you this lad but there are other prophesies than the ones Julian keeps on spouting. I do not know for sure but I have this nagging feeling that Daniel lies at the center of at least one in particular.” “But they’re just words someone wrote down ages ago. They couldn’t know what was going to happen in the future. Even if they had some idea they couldn’t have foretold the existence of a single man.” “They don’t talk about Daniel specifically. They only speak of Heirs, Scions, and all the old forgotten bloodlines that are start showing up now that the Awakening is getting near. There are some in the Neo leadership who suspect Daniel is the Scion of one of those forgotten lines.” “You have no proof.” Andrew replied. “It is not that I doubt you general. I just have this nagging feeling I would rather you be wrong.” Xander nodded. “True. As for proof all we can point to is his father. He was an amazing man from what I understand. He would have to be to draw the attention of the Dozens. He was very much the spoke of their wheel. When they lost him they lost their unity. Only a man possessing certain qualities could have kept them together for as long as he did.” “You’re not going to tell me why, are you?” The General rose from his seat and walked behind Andrew. “What you don’t know others can’t force out of you? I know… at least I suspect I know the truth but I could be wrong. I also don’t mean to boast but all you have to do is look at me and know there is no way someone will be able to force anything out of me I don’t want them to know.” “You’re probably right. I, myself, wouldn’t even dare try to tell you what to do but what can we do now that will help free Daniel?” “I don’t know about freeing Daniel today but at this very moment I think I will like ravishing you… In fact I would like to do that right now.” The general grabbed Andrew possessively by his shoulders. Andrew was caught completely off guard by the general’s sudden aggressiveness. “I thought you weren’t a fan.” “I lied.” The general laid Andrew on a table and lay on top of him. Glowing blue streamed from his lips. The sweet smell was intoxicating. Their lips met and parted. Quantities of Blue Andrew had never thought one man could possessed flowed into him. At first he panicked, fearing he would drown but the Blue was of such rich quality it sustained him.” When it finally ended Andrew had only one question he wanted to ask. “Why?” The General wiped his mouth clean before responding. “To help you understand.” “Understand what?” “What my father intends to do to your bond-mate.” Xander said sadly as he went back behind his desk. “What? Some guy I don’t know is going to try to steal Daniel from me?” “Just warning you is all. If you think I’m an intimating figure you don’t want to meet my father. While I am very much cut from the same cloth as him you cannot imagine how much I hate the bastard.” “Why?” “Because he’s a bastard of course. Not by birth mind you… It’s his cold ruthless and heartlessness ambition that makes him such a bastard. The sanctity of human life means nothing to him. Dare stand in his way or even disagree with him and he will kill you on the spot. He’s the real reason I left Mordel. I just couldn’t deal with constantly having to fear for my life anytime I happened to be around him. Anyway a man like him wouldn’t care how much you and Daniel love each other. If he were to learn what you two have he would not hesitate to try to take it away from you for himself.” “If that’s the sort of guy he is then I will have to agree… he definitely is a bastard,” Andrew said. *** With the situation with Albert getting worse with each passing day, Daniel had become quite apt at avoiding him. The Grey was becoming more insistent that he tell him how he knew Ray. Daniel didn’t know how he was managing it but so far he had been able to hide the truth from the mind reader. Daniel knew it was only a matter for time before his attaché went to his superiors to complain about Daniel’s defiance, but so far he hadn’t. If Daniel had learned anything over the last several months about the ensign, it was how protective he was of his pride. Daniel had endured his rants of how much he hated his grandfather… how no matter how hard he tried to earn the man’s respect he would always see him as a failure. If was probably out of fear of admitting he failed keeping Daniel in line that kept him Albert from reporting his difficultly in discovering whatever secrets Daniel was keeping from him. Daniel’s growing fear of the man eventually drove him from his quarters. While it meant breaking curfew he now slept among his specimens, especially Clive. That at least would not feed Albert’s paranoia. After all everyone wanted to sleep with the Zoo’s Adonis. While Albert did all he could to hide his failure from the Praetor, Thomas already knew and was furious with his grandson. It was not because his grandson had failed to discover whatever Daniel was keeping from him. It was how Albert had let his fear of failure drive a wedge between him and the young man Thomas was already beginning to see as another member of his family. That did not mean Thomas too wasn’t curious. “Play it again.” Thomas demanded. For the fifth time he watch the surveillance data and it still showed the same thing… Daniel and Ray looking at each other, their lips moving, but without producing a sound. Their connection has to be telepathic. He had already had his best lip readers go over the security footage. He even had additional cameras installed for better angles but not even the best among them could say for sure what they were saying. It has to be telepathic. Instead of being angry it gave Thomas hope and fueled the Praetor’s belief that Daniel had to be the one he had long hoped existed. While his failure of a grandson was proving to be of no help, with each passing week Thomas became more certain that Daniel had to be a descendent of his lost son. But how to prove it? He had ordered Daniel be put through a new round of tests but all of them still showed he had no telepathic ability. Still Thomas clung to the instincts he had developed as a father that Daniel was indeed a lost kinsman. But how to prove it? One day the Praetor summoned the Chief Examiner to his office. If anyone could come up with a test it would be his lover. “What do you think Scott?” “I find your obsession with Daniel disturbing, Thomas, and it’s frightening me.” “I’m frightened as well. I am frightened he is not the one.” “And if he’s not?” “Then he must be disposed of.” Thomas waved his hand over a terminal which shut down the video feed showing Daniel with Ray. “Why… because he’s not among Brutus’s heirs. You still don’t have proof he ever had a son.” “But he could of.” Thomas began twiddling his fingers as was his habit when he didn’t know what to do. “If he did wouldn’t you think he would have told you?” Scott asked. “It could have happened during the war. You never know. He might not have known he had a son. Weren’t you were with him up to the end.” Scott went pale. They had this conversation before. “If I could I would have saved him.” “Yet you didn’t. You let him kill himself.” Thomas pale face was becoming red with anger. “How could I have stopped him? Arrows and swords I could have handled but not his own knife. He was always stronger than me. Stronger than…” “All of us? Was that were you going to say? He was and I have no problem admitting that.” “That’s why you loved him. You had a father’s pride that he would one day succeed you. That’s also why you give Albert such a hard time. Compared to Brutus…” “Compared to Brutus he’s a nobody, a weakling. He is not 1/8th the man my beloved Brutus was. If I had to lose a son it would have been better if it had been his father who been the one who died.” “You mean our son.” Scott said coldly. “Timothy was also my son or have you forgotten. Albert is also my grandson. You might see him as a failure but if he’s failed so have you. Daniel would not be avoiding him if Albert wasn’t so frantic to please you.” Seeing he wasn’t getting through to his husband, Scott threw up his hands in defeat. “I’ve had enough. I am removing Albert and giving him back his former post.” “He is under your command you can do with him as you please,” Thomas replied in a dead tone that showed he didn’t really care. “Who will you replace him with?” “I will,” Scott replied. “You don’t have the time. Who will oversee the examiners if not you?” “It doesn’t really matter. If you want proof that Daniel is what you want him to be whom better than your best examiner to prove it.” “You’re right… you are best suited for the task but you better get results.” ________________________________________________________________ *** Daniel lay in Clive’s arms wishing he would never have to leave them but he could not avoid the outside world forever. Clive felt Daniel’s stir. “How soon?” He didn’t have to explain. All Daniel had been talking about lately was how he was close to completing the Sleeper detection device. “It’s already programed. All I need are the blood samples,” Daniel said as he snuggled up closer against Clive. “Will you be taking mine?” Clive asked/ “I see no need to. You are clearly a Neo.” Clive let out a soft chuckle. “Why? What proof do you have?” “You are too beautiful to be anything else.” Clive played affectingly with the locks of Daniel’s reddish brown hair. “One’s beauty does not define the person.” “It doesn’t hurt.” Daniel replied. “You of all people should know that,” he added. “True… I doubt you would visit me so often if I was a Spiderwolf.” “I don’t know… you are almost as dangerous as one.” “Jokes? That makes me feel better.” Clive laughed. “How so?” Daniel asked. “It means you must be in a better mood than I first assumed.” Clive wrapped an arm around the back of Daniel’s neck, hooked him in closer and kissed the top of his head. “I’m going to miss this.” “As much as you miss my father?” The story of how his father and the Angel met was one secret Clive had yet to share. One thing Daniel was sure of was they had to have been lovers. “I only knew him for a short time but yes I do miss him. I will also miss you too.” The very idea the two of them wouldn’t see each other again caused Daniel’s heart to quake. “Miss me? You make it sound like I’ll leave you behind?” “Because you will. You don’t belong here… never have. You’ll get out of here and when you do you’ll have to leave me behind.” Daniel tighten his hold around Clive’s back and buried his face against the man’s chest. “No… I won’t. I’ll take you with me. I’ll…” Clive lifted Daniel’s chin and looked into the young man’s frightened eyes. He then placed a finger on Daniel’s lips to silence him. “You will have no choice but to leave.” Do you think the Praetor doesn’t know we’ve become lovers? He was counting on it. When you do make your escape he will use me as bait to keep you here. I cannot allow that to happen. So I’m telling you here and now… you will leave me behind.” “I won’t. I swear I won’t.” Tears ran down Daniel’s face. He knew what Clive was saying made perfect sense. When the time came he would have to choose between escaping NET or staying the Praetor’s prisoner forever. With the growing list of friends he would have to leave behind, escaping was becoming that much harder to do. Clive gave Daniel a soft nudge. “Go to him.” “Who?” “You know who. I can’t keep hogging you for myself when there are others who love you just as much. Go to him.” Daniel thought about Ray and Captain Gains. “He will… we will.” “It’s alright. So long as you live true to your heart loving more than me will never hurt me.” Daniel stood and shook the wrinkles out of his uniform. “I need to finish my rounds. I will be back after the test results are in.” “Will you come back regardless of the results?” “Yes.” Daniel had no need to tell him that among the thousands of samples the device was analyzing he had secretly added a sample of his own blood. “I’m sure everything will be fine.” Clive said as he watched Daniel exit his cell. “I hope so. I really do.” As soon as Daniel left the cell he was met by Al. “We need to talk.” “I don’t think so.” Daniel tried to slip by but Al wouldn’t budge. “You have no idea how much trouble you’ve gotten me into.” Albert spat out bitterly. “So?” Daniel didn’t just didn’t care Al was in trouble he was happy about it. “So… do you know what’s it like to have your grandfather see you as a failure?” “I never knew my grandfather so… no, I don’t.” Daniel didn’t know about his grandfather but if anything his father had been his biggest supporter. “Then I’m sure you will be happy to know I’ve been replaced.” “That’s probably for the best.” Daniel tried again to slip by but Albert still didn’t step aside. “You don’t understand the Chief Examiner is replacing me. All I wanted was the truth but you couldn’t trust me. I could have protected you and the others. Now there is nothing I can do. Whatever secrets you’ve been keeping from me the Chief Examiner will rip from your mind.” “I…” It had never occurred to Daniel that the Grey might have wanted to help him. “I’m sorry but you know why I’ll never trust your kind.” “It’s a shame… a real shame you couldn’t. Things will be getting much harder for you with me gone.” “I’m sorry but I’ll never trust someone who works for NET. Not in a million years.” “Like I said, it’s a real shame.” To Daniel’s relief Al finally stepped aside. Daniel took advantage of the opening and hurried away. The Chief Examiner… Damn it. What have I gotten myself into? Still what did Al expect? That I would tell him of my plan to escape or that I already know my test results? I haven’t even trusted Clive let alone anyone else with that information. Daniel had to warn Ryan. The plan had to be for him to make his escape right before the first batch of test results were completed. But if the Chief Examiner was now in charge of spying on him then doing it tonight would be too risky. He needed time to think… to find some sort of weakness in the Examiner’s thinking that he could exploit. On reaching the Captain’s cell Daniel’s stomach dropped. Waiting for him there was the Chief Examiner himself. “Good of you to join us Dr. Winters.” The examiner showed no hint of what he was thinking. “Doctor?” As far as Daniel knew this was the first time anyone had referred to him by that title. “Yes… it’s official. With the completion of the device you have been awarded a pair of PhDs in bioengineering and genetics. You should be proud.” “Proud.” Daniel shifted his eyes to Ryan. He saw the captain’s shoulders were slumped as if in defeat. Whatever the two had been discussing before he arrived the damage had been done. “Is there anything else sir?” “Oh yes… from now on you will be reporting directly to me. By your lack of surprise I take you were already told that. You have caused my grandson…” “Al is your grandson?” “Mine and the Praetor’s. Which is why I am so protective of him. As I was about to say… you have caused him enough grief. I take it you won’t cause me the same trouble.” Daniel didn’t need to be told what would happen if he did. “No… no sir.” “Good… I’m glad we understand one another. I see you have things to take care of. So do I so I won’t keep you any longer. I must say however I can’t wait to see your tests results. I plan to go through them with a fine tooth comb.” The tests results? Was he referring to the batch or mine in particular? “The first batch will be done soon.” “I will await the results with great anticipation. Good day doctor.” The Chief Examiner gave him a sharp salute. Daniel quickly returned it. “Good day examiner.” Once he was gone Daniel rushed into Ryan’s cell. “What does he know?” “Too much but also too little to do anything about it. He knows we’re planning to make a run for it. He might not know the details but he would be a fool not to expect it before the test results come in. Is there any way you can erase your data results before he gets his hands on it?” Ryan telepathically replied. “I can try but it would be obvious that I destroyed the data. To make sure they can’t backtrack the results I would have to get hold of the original blood samples.” “Could you sabotage the cooling units and destroy all of them,” Ryan asked. “That too would be obvious,” Daniel replied. Terrified of what would happen if his results were ever known Daniel began to pace back and forth in front of Ryan’s cell. “Not if they can’t prove it. Just tell me how to shut it down and I’ll take care of the rest.” “I was hoping…” Daniel looked at Ryan with longing. “It seems I’ve turned you into my favorite little whore.” Ryan said out loud. “I am no whore,” Daniel snapped. Though he had often accused Andrew of being on Daniel would not tolerate anyone referring to him as such. “Of course you aren’t but a year ago you wouldn’t have been so willing to take on another lover… let alone two,” Ryan teased. “I…” Ryan placed a finger over Daniel’s lips “I know. It can’t be easy being separated from our love ones. It is not like our need to be loved lessens without them. I must say I’ve greatly enjoyed our time together. I hope I have not disappointed you.” Their lips met. Ryan let his strong hands explore the curves of Daniel’s ass and squeezed the perfectly shape muscles. Though they longed to go all the way they had not dared do more than they already had. They could not risk Daniel’s minders accuse him of being infected. They made love to each other with their intense stares. Unable to help himself Ryan slipped a hand into Daniel’s pants and took hold of his iron hard cock. Soon he will Awaken but first I must get him out of here. If the Praetor or Lordon learn what he really is they would seek to either destroy him or control him. If mankind is to have a future worth living I cannot let that happen. Ryan dropped to his knees. “Forgive me Daniel but I can’t…” He swallowed Daniel’s dripping cock whole. Daniel let out a deep moan. “Yes… That’s it. Take it. Take all of it.” He felt Ryan pulled his pants down to his ankles. Soon there was a finger playing with his anus. He wanted the man inside him and fill the void his separation from Andrew had left him with. Ryan knew that could not happen. He had to finish them both off before they lost control. He gave Daniel’s balls a hard yank and squeezed them like a milkmaid would draw milk. After three such attempts he got his reward. Daniels semen shot into his mouth and down his hot throat. He heard Daniel curse and moan. The young man’s knees buckled forcing Ryan to catch him. “That’s it babe. I got you.” He carried Daniel to his bunk and let him rest there. While Daniel rested Ryan sent out his thoughts to the others. “I’m aborting the plan.” He felt his men’s mental protests as a pounding headache. He sent out a surge of thoughts to silence them. “The situation has changed. We could have dealt with Al but we’re now up against an even more powerful telepath. We must be extra careful that the Chief Examiner doesn’t enter our minds.” Ryan did not tell men of the nagging suspicion he had that the Chief Examiner was not the threat they all assumed he was. He didn’t because he could not be sure if the Examiner had not implanted such thoughts in his mind. He was powerful enough to pull that kind of trick on him. “We must restore the gestalt. It’s the only way we will be able to shield our thoughts from him.” “Is that wise sir? What about the Primes. They might sense the link.” Neil said Ryan had to agree with Neil that the issue he brought up was going to be a real problem. “They will and will try to cling to us. Poor fools. None of us can imagine what it must be like for them being isolated from the Overmind. We might be able to use that to our advantage. “If we promise them their freedom they would make them ready allies.” Neil offered as a suggestion. “It also wouldn’t hurt our standing with the Judicars if we were to come back with a few of their enslaved people. If they do try to link with us, let them. Is that okay with you Ray?” Ryan asked his adopted son. Ray was the central hub of their linked minds. “Yes Captain. I should be able to cope with a few more minds. What about Daniel? Should I keep him linked?” By linking to Daniel, Ray had been able to shield Daniel’s mind from Al’s probing. “Keep the link but be very careful. The Chief Examiner plays in a different league than Al. He might be able to detect you.” “Then I will be super careful. But what about Logan? Is he going to stick to the plan?” Ryan shook his head willing doing his best not to groan. “Knowing the stubborn asshole he will go ahead with it no matter what happens. We’ve been lucky that we’ve kept him under control this long. He won’t wait any longer. I don’t know what he’s truly up to but he is following his own time schedule. He won’t let us interfere with it… the stubborn bastard. Whatever he got planned it’s not going to help us any.” “Should we try to stop him?” One of the other men asked. “No… best we can do is keep our heads down while the storm passes. Whatever happens it will happen tonight.” “Is that why you gave in to Daniel? You wanted to make sure he would stay with you tonight.” Neil asked. “Yes.” Ryan didn’t want the men to know how close he had been to losing control. When he had known Ave he had felt the same desire as the former Segundo Prime Travis Everett Walker and Clive to own Daniel’s father’s love. Ryan should not have been surprised that he ended up feeling the same way toward his son. Whenever Daniel was away he ached to have Daniel with him as much Daniel wanted him inside him. One day they would have to sate their mutual desire for one another but not before they had made their escape. The time he spent in the ruins of Ares might have forever transformed him but as Daniel was about to discover there were more than one type of Sleeper. Some, like himself and his men, would never lose their humanity. Some, like Everett Walker’s father, the Demon Travis had never had any to lose in the first place.
  14. JMH

    Chapter 22

    Jonathan was one of their servants that Philip didn't want to have to execute with the others.
  15. JMH

    Chapter Fourteen: New Specimens

    Chapter Fourteen: New Specimens January 1st, 2474 A.D. 17th Year A.A. “Good morning Lieutenant Winters. Good morning Ensign Grey.” The captain in charge of overseeing security at the Nano Research Division waved at the pair as he buzzed them through. “Good morning David. Got any news for us?” Albert asked. “Such as the mood our dearly beloved department head?” The head of security said amusingly. “You two will be glad to know he’s going to be stuck in conference meetings all day.” Albert and David knew all too well how unpopular Daniel was with Colonel Dean. Given how much interest the Praetor’s inner circle of followers were showing in Daniel’s exceptional progress in Sleeper research it could only be expected that the Division Chief had become jealous. Daniel was a rising star and the Colonel felt threatened by his success. Daniel let out a sigh of relief. “Good… last week he was threatening to put me back in the Zoo.” On hearing Daniel mention the Zoo, David could not stop himself from snickering. “Not that you would mind. He’s been asking about you again.” There was no need for the security chief to name which person he was referring to. Since their first meeting Clive had been greatly concerned about Daniel’s wellbeing… among other things. “I guess we should start with him then.” One of the first things Daniel had done was make arrangements for Clive to be moved out of the seclusion cells to the Research Division’s separate specimen center. “Uh uh… sir. The Colonel left orders that each Section Head evaluate the new specimens that arrived last night. You’ll find them waiting in the holding area.” He handed Daniel a clipboard. Daniel rolled his eyes as he accepted the list. The first thing he noticed was how long the list was. “Why so many new ones.” “I don’t know but rumor has it that NET found another group of Academy survivors hiding out on Swan Island.” “And they want me to make sure they’re not Sleepers.” “Actually I think it’s the other way around. They’re certain they’re Sleepers. They are hoping to use them to test the effectiveness of the machine you’ve been working on for the last six months. “The machine’s not ready,” Daniel reminded the head of security. “The Colonel is well aware of that. He just wants to see you fail.” “Well he might get his wish. How many specimens am I allowed to take?” “There are 36 and you’re supposed to take a third of them so I guess that’s 12. Good thing you decided to come in early. You’re the first to arrive so you get first dibs.” Albert nudged Daniel along. “We better hurry before the others show up.” When they arrived in the holding area Daniel took one look of the group and felt his stomach tighten. “They look so…” “So normal? Aye… I have to agree with you there,” the guard watching the cell laughed. The 36 lined up on the other side of the one way mirror. They wore fishermen’s overalls, boots, and longnecks. Their faces were covered by dirt and machine oil but didn’t look worse for wear. What caused Daniel’s eyes to go wide was that Ray was seated among them. So was Zac. Ray had filled the role Albert now had while he had been at the Academy. Daniel had to get the young man out of there.” “I know there’s no point asking but which one is to be first.” The Ensign held the clipboard and a pin, ready to check off the first name.” “Ray… I mean the kid and the one seated next to him.” Albert arched an eyebrow. How could Daniel know the kid’s name when it’s not on the clip board? He would have to think on that before asking. He pushed the intercom button. “We’ll take number six and seven.” One of the guards in the cell pointed to Ray and Zac and to the exit. They rose. While Zac looked despondent there was a smile on Ray’s face. Before exiting he turned to the mirror and winked. He was then shoved out of sight. “Who’s next?” “What other information do we have on the group?” Al flipped through the papers on the clipboard. “Supposedly they were part of a fishing fleet returning to Darwin when the bombs dropped. The EMP from the nukes fried their electronic systems. Somehow they ended up abandoning their boats near Swan Island in the middle of the Sound. They weren’t found until some of them were captured looking for help on West Falkland. According to the interrogators #18 is supposedly their leader. I take it you will want him?” “Most certainly.” Daniel knew if he didn’t then one of the other Section Heads would try to use 18 to control the other specimens. After he was taken away the other picks were less important. He had just picked his 12th specimen when one of those he hadn’t picked began yelling and pounding on the glass. Two of the guards tried to push him back to the line but not even the shock collar could control him Al pressed the intercom. “What the hell is going on?” Before he got an answer the man rammed his shoulder into the armored glass. To Daniel’s shock long cracks danced through the three inch barrier. “I don’t know about you but I think we have our Sleeper. Tell the guard’s we’ll take him.” “But you’ve already picked your 12. The Colonel will…” “I’ll deal with the Division Chief. I must have him in my group.” Al shrugged but conveyed Daniel’s orders to the guards. There was a short shouting match. “They’ll do it but it’s your funeral.” “Will they make me give one up?” Daniel didn’t want to have saved one of them only to hand him over for vivisection.” “They’re not saying.” “They’re just passing the buck to the Colonel.” Daniel knew what would happen. The Division Chief would let one of the Section Heads take his twelfth from any of Daniel’s specimens, not just the ones he had picked today. Everyone knew Daniel had his favorites and knowing them they would pick among those he cared most about. He had to give one up. “Pick a number between 8 and 16.” “What?” The Ensign didn’t understand at first. Daniel repeated himself. This time Al did understand and he didn’t like it. “No way in hell are you going to make me pick which one to give back. You’re the one who picked them in the first place. It’s only fair you make the choice yourself, coward.” Daniel chewed on his lower lip. Al was right. It wasn’t fair to make him choose. He was also right that he was trying to take the coward’s way out. “Give #12 back.” Being the last pick choosing him was the easiest of a list of bad choices. It wasn’t fair but when was life ever fair. He had to tell himself that it was the man he was replacing #12 with who was to blame. Whoever he was he would not be among Daniel’s favorites. Daniel didn’t wait for the prisoners to be switched. The morning had already been ruined. He needed cheering up. Very few things could cheer him up more than the pup. Leaving the holding cell he went straight to the back section of his lab where the specimens were kept. He went to the smallest cell and knelt by it. Inside was a dark furred wolf. “Hello you.” Though the wolf shouldn’t be able to see or hear him, the pup toddled towards where Daniel sat. Daniel placed his left hand on the glass. He watched with glee as the pup licked that spot on the glass. Daniel didn’t have any proof but he was certain that the pup was not any wolf but was in fact the one he once had. On the last day he would ever see his father he had given him a wolf pup as his final gift. At first Karl had allowed him to keep it but when his mother had won custody he had been forced to give the animal up. Once back on Labatt Estate one of the first things Daniel asked for was to have his pup back. He had cried for days when he learned that the wolf had run away the day after Daniel was taken back to New York. Of course the idea that this pup was the one he had lost was insane. Even if his wolf still alive she would have grown to full size. Still he could not help but feel connected to this one and he longed to hold it in his hands. It broke his heart that he would never be allowed to. The wolf was a Sleeper. Daniel might not have the blood test to prove it but it was a known fact that anyone the wolf bit would rapidly show signs of the Plague. If the pup was known for anything it was that she was a bitter. On Daniel’s first day at the lab he had been shown several former guards the pup had bitten. Once human each had taken on the shape of the legendary werewolf. Daniel sat by the wolf until Al’s shadow fell on him. “I knew I would find you here.” Daniel didn’t look away from the pup. “And I knew you would find me.” Even after six months Daniel still didn’t like Albert any more than he had the first time they met. Al was his jailor and nothing would change that. “I don’t see why you torture yourself like this. You will never be allowed in there.” “I know.” This time Daniel did look away. “I guess it’s time to check on the others.” “Good… I know exactly the one you should see next. Clive you are allowed to touch.” “I’m not in the mood.” “Say’s you. I know better. A good fuck would do you some good. If you don’t want it to be him then I would be more than willing to volunteer.” Daniel stood. “Good. You two can go fuck each other.” He patted Albert on the check. “I wish,” Albert laughed. “He would snap my neck before he sucks my cock. He doesn’t like Greys.” “I wonder why. Anyway I should inspect the new specimens first.” “That’ll take all day.” “Keeping myself busy is exactly what I need right now.” Daniel gave the wolf a final smile before heading deeper into the maze of cells. Each of the new specimens had been put in separate cells. None of them looked pleased by their spartan environment. The cells were nothing more than that. There was no furniture, no place for them to clean up. What passed for a toilet was a hole in the floor that connected to an incinerator. They had no toilet paper. Daniel had to keep reminding himself it was only temporary. After a fortnight of quarantine they would be transferred to more homely quarters. “Who do you want to start with?” “I’ll start with the first one.” “You mean Ray?” Al couldn’t stop himself. He wanted to know why Daniel knew the kid’s name. If it came to it he would force the truth from his mind. The glare of pure hatred Daniel aimed at him hinted that Albert would probably have to do exactly that. “I want you to go interview Number 23. I’ll deal with the other.” “I was hoping…” Daniel cut him off. He knew Al had wanted to sit in while he examined Ray but he wasn’t going to allow it. “You will interview and examine 23. Given what we observed in the holding cell examining him should take the rest of the day.” “Why spend that much time on a single specimen?” “Aren’t you the one always complaining how reckless I am when dealing with the specimens? Since you’re always concerned with my safety; how about you show it and deal with the only one that’s shown to be aggressive.” “But…” “That’s an order.” The Ensign’s face went bright red. He wanted to demand Daniel tell him the truth regarding Ray but doing so would only put him in danger. He would find out eventually but he couldn’t get them where there could be ears in the walls listening in. “I will have a full report ready for you by noon tomorrow.” “See to it then.” Daniel snapped. He was not really angry with Al but himself for having slipped the fact that he had recognized Ray. Daniel didn’t move from that spot until he was sure Al wouldn’t come back. When he was sure he let of a breath of relief. He knew he wouldn’t be able to hide the truth for long. Not just from the ensign but also the security staff. It was only a matter of time before one of them discovered that Ray had been stationed at the Academy with him. Controlling his pace Daniel slowly headed to Ray’s cell. As he walked he tried to think on what he would say. “Hello Ray… miss me? No, that won’t do. What the fuck are you doing here Ray? No, that won’t work either. I have to act like I don’t know who the hell he is and hope he shows the same amount of discretion. “Hello, I am Daniel Winters, I will be handling your intake. That will have to do.” When he reached the cell he found it unguarded. That did not mean it was not being watched. “Hello, my name is Daniel Winters. I will be the one handling your intake.” “Hello Daniel… I’m Ray. It’s nice to meet you.” Ray’s voice was as sweet and innocent as it had been when they first met. “I wish it was under better circumstances.” “Don’t worry… I’ve seen worse.” I’m sure you have. “First can you tell me your full name, age, and place of birth?” “I already told you my name is Ray.” “What about your surname?” “My surname?” “Your last name.” “I only have one name.” Daniel gritted his teeth. He knew Ray’s last name was Gains. That had been what he had used at the Academy. So why was he not giving it? It eventually dawned on him that Ray was being smarter than he. If NET were to learn his full name it would make it easier for them to cross-reference it against the names of those who had been stationed at the Academy. “That’s okay. You don’t have to tell me. What about the rest?” “I’m 17, and I was born in Alaska.” “You look a lot older than 17.” “I’m sorry… I meant to say I left Alaska when I was 17.” Daniel set aside the question of how old Ray was. “So you were there during Azrael. Mind to tell me how you managed to survive.” “Papa saved me.” “Papa. Is he alive?” “Yes… he’s in the next cell.” “You mean specimen #18.” “Specimen? Captain Papa is no specimen. He’s the Captain.” “You mean the ship captain.” Ray had to think about that for a while. “Uhmmm yes.” “Is that how you escaped Alaska? You left in ship.” “Yes… that’s it. We left in a big huge ship.” “An oil tanker?” “Is it big?” “It’s the biggest ship I’ve ever seen.” Daniel replied as he continued adding to his notes. “Then yes. It was an oil tanker,” Ray said. Daniel stared at the man inquisitively. Ray might not be trying to be all that careful as I thought he was. He might be that clueless. Then again given the chaos caused by Azrael that could explain it. “Where did you go after you left Alaska?” “We went all over the place.” With the entire world in a mass panic most people didn’t know where to go. “Nowhere in particular? Where did you live before moving to the Falklands.” Ray answered without any attempt at subterfuge. “New York.” “New York… Like in New York City!” Daniel bit down when he realized he had been shouting. Before Karl had gotten him back he had lived there with his mother. He took a deep breath to calm himself. “When did you leave New York?” “Uhmmm thirteen years ago.” Right when I had left. “From there did you go straight to the Falklands?” Daniel was certain he hadn’t but he had to ask. “Not right away. We went all over the place… Buenos Aries, London, Washington, Sidney.” “Which city did you spend the most time at?” “Oh Washington. We had a big house there.” A big house… probably near Karl’s big house like all the big houses were. Had this kid been following him around for most of his life?” No more subterfuge. “Why are you here Ray?” “Can’t tell you.” Ray said evasively. “Why?” Both were now whispering. “It’s a secret.” “Am I that secret?” “Hello sir… is that for me?” Ray shouted. “No it’s for the Lieutenant.” The man standing behind Daniel said. Turning around Daniel saw Albert directly behind him. He was holding a tray and he looked angry. “Is that lunch?” “Yes… I thought you would be hungry. You thought you could sneak behind me and listen in asshole. “Thank you for lunch but I’m not hungry.” “I’m sure you’re not.” The Ensign didn’t leave. “Don’t you have a prisoner to interview?” “Can’t.” “Why not.” “I ordered him transferred to one of the seclusion cell at the Zoo.” “And why did you do that?” “Too violent… I must say what little I did get out of him was quite interesting.” “Care to share it?” “No.” Al said flatly. “Not unless you wish to share with me what you’ve learned.” “Fine…I’ll read your report later. You can move on to specimen #11.” “I thought you were going to handle him” “Well since you finished early with 23 you can speed things along and deal with the less violent ones.” “Is that an order, SIR?” “Do you really need me to make it one, Ensign?” The two glared at each other. Albert was the first to flinch. “I’ll go see to the others specimens.” “See that you do.” Once he was gone Daniel turned his attention back to Ray. The kid looked as guilty as sin. “Sorry if I got you into trouble with your boyfriend.” “Boyfriend!” Daniel yelled. “The ensign is far from ever being that.” “He seems to think he is.” Ray replied. “How do you know?” Daniel asked. “I just do.” “I see. Anyway thank you for warning me he was there. Did he hear much?” “Nope… not a word.” No wonder he was pissed. “Good I want it to stay that way. If he comes back, which he certainly will, don’t answer any of his questions, okay?” “I promise.” “I’m going to go check on your father. I’ll see you tomorrow.” “Okeydokey.” Before he left Daniel leaned in closer to the comm. “And yes Ray… I did miss you.” “I know you did. I hope you enjoy the rest of you day.” Ray waved goodbye as Daniel moved on to the next specimen.” Going to the next cell he found Ray’s father pacing about looking worried. “Hello sir, my name is Daniel Winters I will be handling your intake.” “So that’s how it’s going to be.” The man covered his face with one hand and shook his head. “How what’s going to be?” “You playing clueless.” “About what?” “About my son. I know him better than anyone so I know he said too much.” “No… he said only what I needed to hear. Still I would like to verify some facts with you.” Ray’s father sat down and crossed his legs Indian-style “Go ahead.” “Are you Ray’s father?” “I am as much as anyone can be.” “Is he really only seventeen.” “He looks a lot older than that, I know. As far as he is aware he is. In truth he has only been my son that long.” “So you adopted him?” “I guess that’s a good way of putting it,” the Captain replied “I take it you were the one who helped him escape Azrael?” Ryan shook his head as he laughed bitterly. “So he told you about that too?” “Only because I asked him,” Daniel replied “Yes… I did help him escape not that I wasn’t also running for my life.” Time to cut through the crap. “Are you infected?” “Are we Sleepers?” The prisoner paced back and forth in the tiny cell. “Yes. But we’re nothing like the sort you’ve ever come across.” Daniel stepped closer to the armored glass. “I will take your word for it.” Very few people managed to escape Alaska and among the few who did they showed the early signs of being infected. That was one of the reasons Daniel was so surprised that Ray admitted he was from there. The world government had made a combined effort to kill every Alaskan survivor they could find. If they had been anywhere else Ray and his father would have just signed their death warrant. West Falkland was the exception for it was here that most of the world’s research on the Sleeper phenomena was performed. The man’s answer left Daniel no choice to ask the next question. Daniel pressed his mouth against the small vent which allowed sound to pass between each side of the cell. “Why are you following me? Do you want to kill me or infect me with the plague? Which one is it?” The man let out a soft chuckle. He joined Daniel at the vent. “No Daniel, son of Avery. Hurting you is the last thing on our mind.” Daniel’s heart skipped a beat. “You knew my father?” “Aye… and we swore our lives to protect him. Since we failed where your father was concerned I guess the only way we can redeem ourselves is by doing a better job protecting his son.” It took all the self-control Daniel could muster to keep his voice down to a whisper. “Are you one of the Dozens?” “Yes.” Daniel’s face went pale. The Dozens had been among his father’s best friends. Andrew’s father was one which is why Andrew was one as well. Unlike Andrew however Karl did not feel the same way towards Daniel as he had his father. These Dozens clearly did or they would not have been following him around for so many years. The very knowledge that those who knew his father best had been looking out for him all these years was overwhelming. “I need a break.” “I hope I’ve not upset you. Hurting you is the last thing your father would want me to do.” On the man’s mention of his father Daniel snapped. “Enough talking about my father… don’t you dare bring him up with me again!” “I see…” Ray’s father turned his back to the window. When he turned around Daniel was gone. Gazing into the rows of television cameras Andrew did his best to smile. “As you can see the decontamination process is already ahead of schedule.” He pointed to the busy bulldozers tearing up the contaminated radioactive soil. “By April enough of the radioactive material will have been removed to begin rebuilding the school.” A reporter raised a hand. “What about the water supply. How soon until it’s safe to drink again? “An iodine water filtration plant has been running in Stanly for three months now. It will take time to dreg up any radioactive soil from the reservoirs but in the meantime a desalination plant is being built to provide an alternative drinking source. I must once again thank the public for their support and generous donations they have given towards the school’s reconstruction. It indeed proves that Neos and Norms share the common dream of a world free of the Plague.” “What of Daniel Winters, Captain. The public knows his health is a very sensitive subject with you but they are curious to know when we will see you two back together. Andrew leaned into the stack of microphones and gave the cameras a deadpan look. “When there’s a cure.” As Andrew turned his back to the reporters they kept hitting him with more questions. “When will there be a cure?” “Is it true that Mr. Winters is working on exactly that?” “How does your romantic relationship work now that he’s infected?” Being asked so many pointless questions they knew Andrew couldn’t answer had the young Neo wishing he could line all the reporters up and let a true Sleeper infect each and every one of them. They could then answer their own god damn questions. Instead he said…”Thank you all for coming but as you can see work on the site never ends.” He then left the podium, making it clear the interviews were over. Wanting to be left alone Andrew fled to his trailer. Once inside he fell to his knees and sobbed uncontrollably. He couldn’t believe that after six months NET had yet to allow him to visit Daniel. He was starting to doubt they ever would. Glenn’s clone, was more hopeful. No more so than today. “It’ll be alright Captain.” He patted him on the shoulder. “Anyway I have some good news for you.” “The only good news I want is that they’ll let me see Daniel.” “That might be becoming possible. If you’ll listen to what I have to tell you…” Andrew went over to an empty recliner and flopped into it. “Out with it.” “Lanyon has received word that one of his agents has managed to take footage inside the complex. Daniel is on some of it. He appears to be in good health and no longer in a cell.” “Don’t describe the footage. Let me see it for myself.” “Unfortunately I can’t. I haven’t seen it for myself. We can’t risk letting NET get its hands on the clips. With so many of them watching you it would be too dangerous.” “If you haven’t seen them how do you know if the clips even exist?” “Because I trust Lanyon and so should you. He wouldn’t lie to me knowing I would pass the information on to you. Anyway so long as you keep taking the White the Grey’s shouldn’t be able to pick it out of your mind. The footage we’ve gotten showing Daniel is not really all that important to us freeing him. It’s those with him that gives us the most hope.” Glenn paused for effect. “Ray’s with him.” “Ray? His valet? So he survived too?” “He and over two dozen men Lanyon knows personally. It seems an outside party has been keeping a close eye on Daniel as well.” “Is that a good thing?” “It’s about as good as we can hope. These men swore their lives to Daniel’s father so we should not be surprised they feel some sort of loyalty to Daniel too.” “If they were so loyal why did they let Avery die?” “You know better than to ask that. Daniel’s father died for reasons we might never understand. Do you think your father just let him die? Do you think Azrael fell right on top of him by mere chance?” Somehow Avery knew what was going to happen and tried to stop it. Unfortunately he failed. We all did. These men let themselves get captured probably hoping they’ll be able to free Daniel. At least we can hope that’s the case.” “You have to get me back inside the complex. I need to talk to Ray. I need to know what they’re planning. Damn it I can’t keep sitting on the sidelines. I need to be involved.” “The best way you can help is continue to let your minders believe they’re still the ones in control.” “That’s not enough. I can do more. I need to do more.” “If you feel that strongly about it…” Glenn saw the lad’s hard determination in his eyes and sighed. “You do feel that strongly about Daniel. Your father once felt the same towards Avery. That, however, was a long time ago. All he feels now is bitterness that Daniel has given you that which he so easily lost. There’s more involved of course but that’s something you’ll need to ask Lanyon about yourself. Since you are so determined to help the person you’ll need to meet with the Generalissimo.” “Generalissimo Helios, head of the NSP paramilitary?” “He is almost as powerful as the NET’s Praetor and far more feared than Lord Varrus the Church of the Awakening’s Prelate in charge of the Inquisition. He has over a million men under his command and he only takes in those who can prove their loyalty is solely to him. What I mean to say is that he is the only one who can act independently from the rest of the NSP.” “What about Lordon?” “Even Lordon can’t tell the general what to do. Much of that is due to the fact that while all the world governments are afraid of NET and the NSP they all hold the general in higher esteem than anyone else in the bloody organization. He is Earth’s first and best line of defense against those monstrosities infected with the Plague and the entire world knows it. If Lordon were to even try and remove him from command the US and the EU would join the general in tearing Lordon and his lackeys apart.” “If he is so powerful why hasn’t he acted already?” “For the same reason his men love him. He is not the sort of leader who would throw away the lives of his men for the sake of his own political ambitions. To be honest, except for defeating the Spiderwolves and Mantises I don’t think the man is all that ambitious. His sole desire seems to be protecting Neos and Norms alike and maintaining the peace between the world powers for as long as possible.” “If he strives to be so neutral how can I convince him to side with me?” “That’s what you don’t yet understand. He would not be joining you as much as you will be joining him. Lanyon believes you have something the General wants desperately and he is known for taking care of his men. If you want the General’s help to free Daniel you better give him a good reason to.” “And what does he want?” “The Bond”

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