Corporal Whitby had shown remarkable courage; her life had been drastically changed and now hung on a thread thinner than she dared think of.
“I have some News,” Whitby opened her eyes, there standing before her was Alex; his determination in keeping her alive had at last shown results. Since the Institute had acquired an advanced version of Seth that coupled with our own version had brought new results.
The computer’s ability in digesting such vast volumes of data had enabled Alex to theorise within seven-dimensions, using holographic imagery and iron out possible errors, without placing a human host through countless agony and numerous disappointments.
“We have found a positive cure in reversing the rapid ageing; also, from tests carried out on two laboratory specimens, they have both shown rapid improvements and have shown no signs of dyeing.”
Whitby blinked, the light in the room needed toning down.
“I cannot tell you how much you have improved my life, since you made those changes for me, now it appears…I also need to thank you again, this time for my very life.”
Her feelings had evolved towards Alex as no longer was he her captor and responsible for this confinement. Whitby was feeling positive emotions of love towards Alex as she had come to realise this gentle giant had gone out of his way to save her while these actions had exposed a empathic, loving side of his nature. They had grown fond of each other and Alex had looked forward to finishing his twelve-hour shifts and spending additional time with her.
“How is the professor, did he succumb to the virus or is he still alive?” Whitby enquired.
Alex looked somewhat uncomfortable,
“We used to monitor him daily, but in time we soon realised his life was to become an endless torment, so took to allowing Seth to monitoring the room, strictly on an automated basis. We fear he may well have finally died, there has been no sign of human life in the room now for over nine months.”
Whitby could see it was troubling him to talk about the professor.
“Do you think he is being regenerated or has he finally died?”
“No all his past regenerations were over some three months, then incredibly he died twice in rapid succession, we feel for unknown reasons he found a way of cheating the demon and managed to end his eternal torment.”
Whitby thought for some seconds.
“I can see it upsets you, so I shall ask you no more questions, other than only this. Please, please whatever you decide to do, ensure that beast is truly dead before you send people back into that area, it frightens me to think it could so easily transfer from one host to another.”
Alex could see the genuine concern within her.
“This episode has had its effects on you.” Corporal Whitby breathed in deeply and with a slow assuredness, she spoke.
“I have experienced the physical, as well as the emotional pain and torment, which that creature put me through. It used me without consideration or regard for my life, purely so it could reach a chosen goal of revenge; I have every reason to be concerned.”
Alex was about to speak when his mind intercepted thoughts from Peter, calling him to the central research area immediately.
“Alex, we have intercepted a variety of communication from the Undraus Corporation, they are ready to put into place operation exchange.”
Alex mentally replied to his friend.
“Do we have any indication yet as to just what actually this operation is?”
As he walked into the room, he could see from Peter’s expression that he was deeply concerned.
“I can’t be certain, but I think we have been duped.” Reading his mind, he suddenly stopped moving,
“Oh, my lord…no that can’t be right, how…, how in dear lord’s name could they have done that, they don’t have that sort of technology…, do they?”
Peter’s thoughts answered his question.
“The Wyke Institute in Dorset England informed us that mother’s research has broken what they call the life barrier and can now clone an individual and then capture the original soul; it is just possible that Mrs Undraus can now do the same.”
Alex breathed in; it was he that had authorised Thomas’s entry into the New Mexico site, never before had their innermost sanctums been infiltrated.
“Our difficulty, lies in that, in every way conceivable that individual in our guest wing is Thomas, and I don’t know exactly how, but they seem to have found a way of re-programming certain areas of his memory, and in all genuineness he really thought he was carrying out Juliet’s instructions, and in nearly every way he was. It is just now I really am not sure what part of his mind is under that woman’s control,” said Peter.
It was Michael that sensed something was wrong, he turned to see old Minstrel charging through the thicket, and by then he had reached Andrew and Jamie before they both had any chance of moving away. Andrew picked up his brother’s thoughts and braced himself for the attack; however, Jamie had no such advantage.
One of Minstrel’s claws ripped across his spine, sending him almost flying forward some five feet. Then almost in the same movement the huge creature knocked Andrew to the ground and started tearing into his left thigh.
Instantly Michael and his remaining brothers lunged at the animal and fought with such force that the creature eventually backed off. Michael could sense the creature was almost reading their thoughts; it was at that moment that he knew in some way they were genetically in some kind of a telepathic connection.
A single shot echoed through the air, Minstrel staggered then regained his posture and turned to disappear into the labyrinth of caves. There before them bleeding profusely lay Jamie, he had miraculously escaped having his lower back fractured and found that he had incredibly landed with his gun close to hand. It had taken all of his strength to raise the rifle and fire a single shot, however it was all that had been needed to force the creature to back off from its attack and to seek refuge.
“Did I get him…did I get him?” Asked Jamie.
“Yes son, again you saved our lives, but sadly that beast seems invincible, your shot caught him squarely in the lower neck, I saw the bullet blast through leaving a gaping hole. In truth you were unlucky not to have hit one of his jugulars.”
Jamie was pleased yet saddened that he had again failed to kill the beast. He was losing blood rapidly and Michael and the brothers knew he would die before they could get him home.
“We are going to…” Jamie broke his words,
“I know, stop talking and just do it, if not I shall die, although I think I have kind of had it this time, I can’t seem to move my legs.”
Michael flinched at the young man’s directness yet admired his strength of character.
“I’m not going to pretend that I am not scared, that bloody knife hurts like nothing I can describe, yet I know you must close off the bleeding, so please if you will hurry and get it over with,” said Jamey.
Three of his ribs had been shattered with pieces of bone jutting from his side. The gash extended from the base of his spine along the back and partly through his left side rib cage. Jamie tried to put on a brave face.
“I don’t think Pa’s magic brew will heal me this time, it’s going to take a miracle to heal this one.”
Andrew had pulled himself forward; his wounds were themselves severe but nothing by comparison to Jamie’s.
A series of screams echoed into the air, those of the brothers that could walk climbed back to the ridge that overlooked the trap.
Minstrel had used the opportunity and had made his way to where Jim Bob was hung as human bait. Then taking hold of Jim Bob he broke his bindings and dragged him away screaming for mercy. Michael had wanted to fire into the home brew, then realised that he would need every drop to sterilise the numerous wounds, as there was not a single one among them that had not sustained some kind of injury.
He smiled quietly to himself, thinking,
“Well at least that Jim Bob got what he deserved.”
It was three days before Jamie had the strength to travel; he had remarkably withstood the pain with considerable courage and had only eventually passed out through blood loss.
Amazingly one of the genetic modifications Which Peter had to overcome was that of tissue rejection, eventually he had developed a form of blood that both an animal and a human body would not reject. Resulting in all of the brothers been able to give Andrew and Jamie a makeshift blood transfer, without the risk of either of them dying from rejection.
Later, on the fourth day, they came across the remains of Jim Bob, his huge frame had made it easy to identify his skeletal remains, even though they had been scattered over some miles.
“Dear Lord,” said Michael.
Michael had stopped and looked down at the tracks, there clearly alongside that of Minstrels, was the imprint of another bear. However, from the tracks this one was at least a third or, if not, more in its size.
“From the depth of these tracks I estimate this monster to be at least twice the size and weight of Minstrel, possibly even more,” said Michael.
Andrew studied the tracks and the surrounding area.
“Look over there you can see the beast came from a Northerly direction. I would say he came across the bones and has started following after old Minstrel.”
Jamie although weak and lying bound to a makeshift stretcher, he could feel the excitement whelming up within him.
“Could you imagine the size of such a beast, heck it would feed and clothe our family for many months?”
The men laughed.
“Ever since we have known you, you always talk of food, and even eat like old Minstrel, yet you never seem to put on weight” commented one of the brothers.
Michael smiled at the grin coming from Jamie’s face.
“I know of some professors back in the United States that would love to examine your metabolism.”
It was Andrew who drew their attention away to more immediate issues.
“Dear lord, oh no I pray that I am wrong.”
Michael and the others had immediately picked up on his thoughts; it was Jamie who had to ask just what it was that had scared him.
“It’s these tracks son, I’m not sure but from the direction, and my gut feeling, I would say both of these bears are heading back to our homestead.”
Alex viewed the various surveillance tapes.
“I can see no sign of Lambert anywhere within the room, surely he could not of escaped, could he?”
Peter manoeuvred the hover chair alongside Alex’s work area.
“Enlarge a direct image onto the far wall,” he asked.
No sooner had he instructed Seth to carry out the instructions than it was done. Both men carefully examined every area of the room.
“Seth is there any sign of human life?”
Seth failed to answer.
“Seth…” then all power shut down placing the entire establishment into momentary darkness.
Within a few seconds a secondary backup system started, and once again breathing life into the vast complex.
“We’ve been compromised,” shouted Alex.
Then came a voice from another part of the room, it was one of Alex’s clones that had been responsible for the development of I.T. security and to specialise in Bio-genetic components.
“I reverted my attention to our Seth the moment you informed us of the compromise with Thomas.”
Peter looked on in interest.
“I fortunately managed to salvage over four fifths of our research, and re-booted a backup version of our own Seth, however that with which their computer already has, I can never recover. Such knowledge is now permanently in their hands.”
Alex picked up the version of Seth that Thomas brought into the complex.
“Shall I destroy this?” asked Alex.
“No…,” Cried out the researcher.
“Sorry…, sorry no please do not do that, incredible as it may seem that is really an amazing advanced prototype of their Seth. I can only surmise that they decided the risk of using an older version, that it would be discovered and have revealed their hand, and it looks as if they thought the sacrifice worthwhile.”
Peter moved his chair.
“If that is the case, then we can assume that there is the possibility that they have an alternatives version, other than Seth to use. Or they felt so confident that it was estimated that they could up load all our data before we could stop them.”
Alex carefully placed Seth back into the shielded container.
“Do we know how they managed to up load the data?”
“Incredibly it looks as if they used satellite technology piggybacked onto an Aura shuttle, Thomas must have made the connection, that way they somehow avoided the need of more than the one land line, which we gave them.”
Peter felt a shudder travel along his body, for the first time in many years he felt real fear.
“I can’t be sure, but it would be a fare estimate to say that they were hoping to up load all our data before detection. If that is the case, then it is safe to say they simply felt the sacrifice was worth the risk. If so, then we have a fully functioning and advanced version of their Seth, and which could in theory be turned on them.”
Alex carefully thought over the words.
“If so ok, but would they not already be aware of our discovering their intentions,”
“No, it was our version of Seth that terminated the power loss, it was the only way it could prevent any further data loss, in doing so it also severed all out going lines including the one that we had set in place.”
Peter spoke through Alex.
“Could you ensure this time that we will not be compromised again?”
“Yes, I managed to prevent full transference by loading a specialised program in our Seth; incredibly it has now embedded itself into their system and will be totally untraceable. I suspected there was a chance of subterfuge it was small, yet, I took safeguards of my own to protect our family”
Alex smiled at the thought of one of his cloned sons been so astute.
“We also still have the software we loaded earlier, and that is still working and will in time actually bring their system down.”
Peter gave those words some thought.
“If that is the case then, would this not also affect our system?”
“No sir, I have incorporated a recognition program that will detect a genetic signature and avoid damaging any further system that we use, as it was Alex had instructed me to connect their Seth to an old storage unit, which we had been using that only held non critical data; so at the worst this stunt of theirs has gained them in truth nothing of real value, while we in turn have gained something of immense worth.”