The elevator dinged. It creaked open, and Samantha’s heart settled, lumbering after Lilith as they stepped out and made their way through the vat room once more. The last few days had passed far too quick for Samantha’s liking –and Lilith’s. The scowl on her face seemed to have been carved in, a permanent scar of the events that had transpired. Not even her bright BRIGHT BRIGHT pink dress could take away the darkness of that crude grimace, made even darker, grislier, by the vats, themselves. Those copper basins bubbled and rumbled, no longer simple empty husks but seven bright red eyes, frothing at the glass that now sealed them. The crimson ichor churned and hissed, gurgling against the dark masses inside. What they were was still a mystery, little more than goo themselves, but two seemed to gravitate towards each other, “clawing”, scraping and rubbing at the tubes.
Lilith stopped by the last, filled vat, the closest to the desk and its computer. It was just as busy, just as lively as the vats it kept track of, whirring and chittering away. Samantha, though, was too weary to act anything more than the fool, watching the sullen succubus as she smiled as she touched the glass.
“Ah, Lily,” she mulled, rubbing it. “It’s going to be nice to have you among us again.”
“Actually her, or the one you plan for me to ‘raise’?” Samantha grumbled. She burped, tasting a bit of her sick, but swallowed it down as best she could. Lilith simply patted the glass, though, and rounded to the computer. Finally... Samantha followed her around, and watched as she clicked the menu bar at the top. She scrolled down a series of choices, and clicked on the first one. The screen froze a second, the computer rumbling with it, then the sprawling text that had taken up the bottom and the diagram of the room vanished. Replaced, and focused solely, on that one vat. At the top of the screen, a set of numbers and letters flickered into place.
Below it, it showed an outline of what of what Lily would grow into, while to the right certain options for her could be chosen. All but one were still green, able to be changed, while the one, red choice, Species, was immutable.
“This is her current build,” Lilith said, at last, and moved to the side, letting Samantha sit at the desk. The succubus leaned over her, though, lording and squeezing her shoulder hard, making Samantha shudder and fight more of her revulsion. She kept together (as best she could), though, watching Lilith scroll down, pointing out options. “You can adjust her height, her weight, build, intellect... promiscuity, sexual preference-”
“Isn’t that a choice?”
“In a way, but nature, also, has a minor part to play. How one is nurtured... or one’s memories of how they were nurtured in this case, can, also, lead one to favor who they want. One way and/or another. This, also, leads to constructing her personality, her aptitudes and goals in life. You... you, dear, dear Sammy... You, alone, have the power to shape her to whatever you may desire. All from this console.”
“The way you say it, you are acting as though I am God.”
“Oh, you are most certainly not. After all, you answer to me, and I answer to an even higher authority.” Lilith took the mouse and scrolled down, reaching the bottom. It was once more on the long, spooling, reeling text that outlined the DNA forming, at that very moment, in the tube beside... Even then, even as the computer “sprinted”, it was little more than a crawl to keep up with the sheer mass of data simply becoming, making within the spaces of planck inside that copper cauldron.
Lilith pressed the control key and F, then pressed in a certain segment, repeated multiple times through it all.
“This strand, though, I decided to take some creative liberties with. This is an artificial code I spliced onto the double-helix.”
Samantha grumbled as she leaned forward a touch. The text was so small and she needed a way to cover the light she was spilling underneath into the planks of the desk.
“For... what, exactly?” She said.
“We want her more like Norman. We want more, tangible control over the demon and its power.”
“Yes, because that’s working out so well with him.”
“He’s... well, different from what we have in mind. We are structuring a DNA code that, when that person gives permission, the demon is able to grant the wish as intended. No downsides, no negative repercussions, no ulterior motives; just the wish, itself, in its purest form... We are, also, making a DNA tether. Her DNA, her life, will be tied, permanently, to another.”
“Couldn’t the person simply wish that tie to be removed?”
“They could, but then she would die.”
“What if the person wishes that she didn’t when it happened?”
“Then she will explode and kill her keeper, as well.”
“And if she-”
Lilith huffed as she held up her hand, shaking her head.
“You can ask every question under the sun, and, I assure you, I will have an answer for it... This isn’t the first time we have attempted cloning a desire demon. Just for this quadrant and sector.”
“And how many quadrants and sectors are there, exactly?”
“The first should be obvious. As for sectors... that’s not important. What is, though, is that this demon will be tied to their host, feel compelled to stay with them, no matter what, and do whatever they can to make their life content... or die along with them.”
“Sounds like a sweet gig. At least, if they never figure out they are literally enslaved on a metaphysical level. So, who is she being tied t-” No sooner than the question escaped her lips that the terrible truth was known. “You’re tying her to me, aren’t you?”
Lilith’s scowl was disturbed, pervaded by the grin that now stretched and widened on her face. She patted Samantha’s head, making her shudder as she let the light die underneath, clutching her stomach.
“Good deduction,” Lilith said. “Yes, we are. We gathered some of your blood from the crash site. Small, minuscule, almost a negligible amount, but enough to at least splice into one student.”
“S... so when will they be ready?”
She tapped the top of the screen, at that line of numbers and text.
“It’s right there. They were a bit... slow to take, but now that they have it shouldn’t take them long. So patience... which reminds me-”
“Sehmi is doing fine.”
“But is she bonding at least? Is she getting along with everyone well?”
“She hates guys, it seems. Calls them evil.”
“She hasn’t met him yet... Or Ayn. She despises Minos, though, and only tolerates Peter. Meanwhile, her and Lisa are the best of friends –which it just occurred to me. Did you ever notice how many people have L names around here? Lisa, Lola, Lily, Lilith-”
“Luna, Lupe, Lucille.” She pursed her lip, rubbing her chin as she stepped back. “You know, I never paid attention before, but you’re right. An interesting, strange point... Is there something on your mind?”
“You... you stuttered there.”
“I know. It’s... well, I guess not really.”
“Then what is it?”
“I... I keep going back to that moment, with Jack and... that matriarch. She... she... toyed with both our minds like we were... Well, I’m not surprised it happened to me, but y-”
“Believe it or not,” Lilith cut in, and Samantha noticed she suddenly favored her left foot, leaning on her as she gave a small chuckle. “Kaylee and I, we’re old friends... Incredibly old friends.”
“Yet she shot you in the foot.”
“She knew it meant nothing. It’s already healed. Besides, we’ve done far worse to each other over the decades... There are no hard feelings between us. At least, I hope not-”
“But she still got into your head.”
“Because I let her... for the most part.”
Wish I could give that excuse.
Lilith sighed, hiding the hiss of the phantom pain that still lingered as she put pressure again on her right foot. She returned the program to its default page then stepped back, allowing Samantha to stand. The pair made their way once more to the elevator. Much to Samantha’s disdain. She hoped to have her stomach settled before they ascended through level Hell once more.
The elevator creaked shut, filling her with dread, and watched, waited for Lilith to press the button... But she pressed the button one floor lower, instead. Samantha cocked her brow, was about to ask, but needed to hold onto the wall instead, her head ringing, mind turned to jelly once more.
She crumpled to her knees, those bony squares resonating with her silent screams, in pure agony as some invisible hand crushed her. Her left arm suffered the most, the dragon on it gnashing and thrashing at her skin, tearing, bleeding her anew. Her teeth crackled and crunched, grinding away... but eased as they passed to the other side once more.
Sadly, her stomach was not ready. Not at all... It spilled onto the steel. The enriching smell of bile filled the box in no time, and Lilith hit the button for the next level.
“Could you be a dear and tilt the floor,” Lilith asked as she helped Samantha out into the barren hallway. Samantha gave her a dirty look, but complied... hearing the contents hiss on the barrier below. Lilith tittered, patted Samantha’s back, and turned her towards the new room. It was lined with steel doors, not a visor on any of them. Light barely touched the floor, lost to levels upon levels of entrances, spaced out for the lifts at the corners, going stories above. “This would have been where you taught, by the way. Down at the end of the hall there is a spacious lecturing hall, fit for, say, 70 to 90-”
“You expected me to teach that many?” She uttered, watching the elevator shut and take off without them.
Lilith pulled her attention back to the halls, to the doors and levels that sprawled above... while also holding out a frilly, white handkerchief.
“Not at first, no... and here. You still have some on your lip.”
Samantha took the kerchief, but her mind was still back at that barrier, fading into the darkness as Lilith lead her down the hall. Hissing? Was there steam? How would a simple veil for witches steam, let alone hiss? It isn’t necessarily solid, as is seen with the elevator and that to passes through no problem, so what on Earth-
A door -two in fact- slammed opened, and were lost to the sides of another abyss, a darker abyss inside that abyss. Lilith tittered at Samantha’s jump, flipping the three switches by the door, forcing the lights to flicker to life. Row after row warmed, revealing soft, red padded walls. Speakers could seen in their velvet embrace, glittering against the flat material, eleven sets, matching the rows descending. They were split by two sets of steps, leading up to a landing before the entry, while, at the bottom, was a long table set behind a lectern. All were before a whiteboard that rivaled many a movie theater’s screen. There were chairs lined before the rows, those tables, all bolted in place. From the makes and models, they were at least a decade old, yet not a single sign of wear nor dust could be seen on any of it.
Lilith led her down to the lectern, and Samantha saw that there was easily six feet between the bottom of the whiteboard and the floor. The red walling gave way to a simple, black bar, a nook that could be parsed and separated as Samantha saw fit, though was absent for four feet of the expanse, almost dead-center behind the lectern. Lilith snapped her fingers, pulling Samantha’s attention to the item in question, and had her stand behind it. She let her feel the soft, black wood and its dark “wings”, little more than extensions on the sides that couldn’t be seen from the front, giving her something to lean on.
“Are you sure you don’t want to teach here?” Lilith said, caressing Samantha’s shoulders as she hummed in her ear. “It’ll at least give you the air of knowing what you’re talking about.”
“Hahahahah. Funny,” Samantha grumbled, and shook her head. “Though tempting, I don’t think I can walk every day to that hallway just to get in the elevator then down the hall and down the steps... I’m lazy.”
“That’s just it. You wouldn’t have to.” She let go of Samantha’s shoulders and reached down, pushing the left “wing”. There was a small click, and a handle popped from the top of it. Lilith gestured to it, allowed Samantha the honor, and it opened a tiny compartment to reveal a blue button which, when pressed, opened the wall where the black bar was missing. Behind was a white door. Its hinges were silent as Lilith opened it, and waved Samantha inside. It was a modest apartment, with the kitchen just off to the left and a door to the right. The door opened to a restroom, its black counter tops shimmering with the “sun” outside its window. Lilith started to goad her onward, into the living room just ahead, but Samantha would not move, locked in place by the weirdest sense of deja vu.
“It’s... It’s like the apartment complex that the witches live at,” Samantha said... shaking her head. “That’s crazy though... right?”
“It pretty much is, but with a bit more... personality.”
Lilith eased her to the side and sauntered into the restroom. She turned the thermostat to the left of the entrance, and the tile and marble flashed, changed to red then orange. She returned it to normal then headed for the kitchen next. She eased herself by the double-door refrigerator and slid her hand across the limestone bar to the stove, where she messed with its clock, changing the bar to steel then wood with each press. Even the table in the corner changed, stopping on mahogany, its thick top untouched by any cut nor wear, polished to perfection. Lilith hit the button beside the clock, and it flashed DFT, returning the counter to the limestone, the table back to light pine.
Samantha... cleared her throat, and clasped her hands.
“I can turn them all separately, right? I want that mahogany back- I mean, if I was really to teach here, anyways.”
“But of course. It’s all to your tastes... So... when can I start moving you in?”
“I... I really don’t want to leave the Black Halls.”
She sighed, shrugging. “Suit yourself... I must apologize, by the way.”
She nodded, and forged the way to the elevator once more, the lecture hall left in darkness once more. They entered that little box, its bottom no longer tilted. The smell was gone, bur Samantha kept looking at the ceiling, expecting steam to be there fog the lights. The elevator continued on, though, unimpeded, all the way to Lilith’s intended destination, and Samantha was before the Scarlette clones again. The vat that once housed Scarlette’s new body was replaced, a new... glob squirming inside, starting to form.
“Yes.” Lilith said at last, touching the glass. “I would have shown that to you sooner, but... long week and all. This place was a part of it... You know where this is, right?”
Samantha... feigned looking around, her brow cocked... slowly closing on the pillar and its slit above, gasping, pointing to it.
“Is that w-”
“Yes. This is what you have been seeing. This level is devoted to drider. Specifically one of the high bloods... the skull of the one above. Someone broke in here and stole her away. We have been trying to follow, trying to track down who did it, but-”
“But? What about the cameras?”
“They were... ineffective to whomever did it. Nothing but static. Though, we do have evidence that they came from below.”
“Yes. A bit of blood was left on the top of one of the vats. We’re still running it against the database, but, so far, it’s been negative for anyone here. However, it did have hits of Scarlette, so we’re thinking they’re still down there somewhere.”
“Well, I hope you catch them... and apology accepted. This is... The last thing we need is for someone to get her out and disclose what happens here.”
Lilith’s scowl would simply have to suffer, beaming so at Samantha, grasping her hands.
“My thoughts exactly. What we’re doing here... it’s not... evil. It’s preservation. We want himanity to have a chance among humanity. If that means bringing them back and trying and trying again, then... so be it.”
“So... That’s it? Just cloning? Resurrecting?”
“Oh. I don’t know... just seems... small for this kind of thing... After all, you’ve already shown the capability. Why haven’t you created spliced beings? You know, probably himan designer-bred to look better or do better for better?”
She clapped, tittering. “Oh, I knew you were the right choice for the school!” She pulled out her phone, and frowned, shaking her head before she lead Samantha to the elevator again. “I’m afraid our time is done. I’ll be in touch more, I swear. Keep taking care of Sehmi for now, and-”
“Yeah, yeah. I’ll be good.” Oh, I’ll be good, alright.
Samantha groaned, and plopped back on her bed, holding out her arms as long as she could, waiting. Sehmi... and Minos both pounced. No matter how many looks she slung at him, how much fire roiled, Minos would not be kept away any longer. Which became a cute, if painful, challenge for which one ended up receiving Samantha’s full(er) embrace.
Sehmi, sadly, won in the end. Guess it was true: all was fair in love and war. Minos whimpered, settling beside Samantha, cupping his... lovelies. A long, jagged, blue spine stuck from between his fingers. It was barely thicker than a hair but blossomed blood from its tip with each thump of his heart. He cried out as Samantha plucked it out. Green energy pulsed through his family jewels while Sehmi simply stuck out her oily tongue and waggled her finger at the minotaur.
“My mistress,” she stated.
“Yeah, yeah,” Minos grumbled, and inhaled, deep, shuddering as he let them go. He rolled on his side, massaging Samantha’s shoulder, garnering another evil look from Sehmi. “So, did you get it down there?”
Samantha nodded, and raised her hand. The green was gone, but a new light started to grow. It was little more than a dot, a pinprick of periwinkle, flashing, pulling their focus into it and its deep well of darkness, coming out on the other side to the vats and the computer at the end. As they watched, the light underneath the table grew, and periwinkle hands seeped out of it, clawing up and over the lip of the desk and onto the keyboard. It flooded into it, making the screen flash and fly through the code. Dark, purple code was left behind, perfectly normal to the naked eye, more and more added until Samantha waved her hand, dismissing it.
“It’s working,” she said, and yawned. “It’s setting up rootkits and diving deeper into the code. Once I find the perfect place, I’ll set up a kill switch.”
“For what?” Sehmi said.
“Nothing you need to worry about.”
“How long do you think it’ll take?” Minos said.
“With any luck? Three weeks.”
“We’ll have to find a way to find all the other quadrants and sectors and their systems and fry them, too.”
“But why?” Sehmi said.
“And you sure she is completely oblivious?” Minos said.
Samantha shrugged. “If she wasn’t, then she’s a better actor than me.”
“Or you’re exactly-”
“No. I don’t want to ever be... that with her. Ever.” Samantha huffed, and squeezed Sehmi tighter. “It’s nothing, Sehmi. Now, go to sleep.”
“Are you taling about ruining Bitch Lilith?”
Minos guffawed, knocked back by that sudden curse from such an innocent mouth... Samantha was just as surprised, but didn’t have the same luxury.
“Language, young lady,” Samantha exclaimed, fighting hack her laughter –which wa only made worse as Sehmi cocked her head.
“What? That’s her name, isn’t it? It’s what I have in my mind.”
“Yup! Perfectly her name,” Minos said, rubbing Samantha’s shoulder again.
“Her name is simply Lilith, Sehmi,” Samantha grumbled. “I don’t want to hear that kind of language come out of your mouth- oh gods, I am becoming a mother!”
Sehmi trilled, hugging Samantha tired. “But you are my mother.”
“Does that make me the pappy?” Minos said, and both women gave him an evil glare... forgotten as he unexpectedly was jettisoned off the bed and through the door. It slammed shut and sealed behind him –but not before another, lovely blue quill made it through, meeting its mark with an almost mousy shrill.
“But yes,” Samantha said with a huff. “We are talking about ruining her?”
“Ood. I hate her. She was mean to me, and hurt Ain.”
Sehmi looked up at her, her eyes filled with tired tears.
“Ain... C... C... Ain.”
“I’ve never met anyone named that.”
She sniffled, and nestled deeper into Samantha’s embrace, finally breaking through the soft metal layer and ripping her clothes a touch.
“He’s m... my...”
“Your... brother? Father? Cousin? Uncle?”
Samantha blinked. “Uh... what? What!”
Sehmi, though, simply sighed, and rubbed her cheek against Samantha’s, creating sparks on the metal there.
“Oh, Ain... we’ll be toether aain... maybe I’ll be able to properly talk then.”
“Yeah. Maybe... I’m gonna have to meet this guy, though. I don’t want my daughter to run off with some hooligan.”
They chuckled, but it only made Samantha feel a little more dead inside with each parent joke... You know, she thought, yawning again, sleep coming slow that night. It’s been a week. Maybe it’s time to pay Ayn a visit. Get my vitamin Bitch going again... Heh... ‘Bitch Lilith’... Has a nice ring to it.
She chuckled... wincing as Sehmi stirred, and really wished she hadn’t sent Minos away... Eh. He should be conscious by morning. Tomorrow was going to be a busy one; maybe she can have Lisa and Peter look after Sehmi for a touch. It’s been a couple weeks since receiving her “fix”. She hated to admit it, but grew addicted. Heh... a. DICK. Ted... heheheheheheh- I need to get out more.