Old Minstrel sensed the danger, sniffing the ground his huge body could be seen to become tense. As he lifted his head, which in itself was the size of an adult human’s torso, he waved his head sideways; his acute senses tasted the very particles of air. Although invisible to the naked eye he now was aware of another presence and he knew instinctively this was no ordinary predator.
Slowly he paused, then again raised his immense body barring his full weight on his hind legs, he could taste the very essence of this intruder, yet somewhere deep within his memory, there hidden in the recesses and long buried; came an image that he had inherited from his mother.
Suddenly as the mist of his mind cleared, having inherited the genetic enhancements of the beast that sired him, he could see the creature from his mother’s eyes. He was younger, but still an imposing sight and at that time standing at some nine meters and weighing in at a modest fourteen hundred pounds.
Now as the years had advanced, he had not only grown in stature but also in intelligence, Minstrel himself having been sired by this beast followed in his footsteps but was at a considerable disadvantage weighing in some seven hundred pounds less and smaller by over four meters. Now as he concentrated his thoughts, he began to partially realise the images within his mind was now that of which the beast itself could see.
Momentarily Minstrel spun around as he saw three-armed humans dressed in uniform and carrying rifles, he could not understand why he could see them but on turning his body and head they were nowhere around him.
Then within seconds there was blood and shouting, he could hear the sound of automatic gunfire even feeling the pain as the bullets sank deeply into the body, and for a time putting him into an unwanted blind panic. After some minutes Minstrel lowered his body and swayed his huge bulk sideways shaking his head, yet the images continued; it was then that he began to understand.
Having been sired by this beast, he had genetically inherited all that the geneticists had planned for his father, and that not only included genetically enhanced strength, enhanced intelligence and even longevity of life, but also the early stages of the geneticist’s experiments in telepathy. It was now only as he had placed himself within a fifteen-mile radius of the beast that he had become aware of its presence.
Unknown to him, Virgo the name the scientists had given to the first bear unborn cub, was himself trying to come to terms with the images which were also confusing his mind.
Andrew looked over to his brother.
“Can you sense that?”
Michael nodded indicating yes.
“Gad I don’t know what it is, but I can feel the hairs along my spine standing up.”
Both men had sensed a presence close by.
“Mary Jane,” He called.
“Quickly collect all the children together and have one of your sisters take them into the cellars.”
Mary Jane could see fear within his eyes, and within the past year that she had come to know and love Michael; she had never once seen that fear within him. “They are close by aren’t they?” Michael nodded yes.
“Quickly, I know we have defences but I’m not sure they will hold out, we need to prepare without having to worry over the children.”
Jamie was carried into the room; he was already equipped with two rifles, and a crate of homemade grenades.
“I see your also aware of something been out there?” said Jamey.
Michael looked across to his brother and smiled; Jamie was still badly injured and heavily bandaged having to be carried along with the aid of a homemade stretcher. Yet there he was, yet again in advance of Michael and his brothers, having already sensed danger and prepared himself to defend his family.
“Lord Man, that kid has something that our family could certainly make use of.”
Although his words were spoken in silence through telepathy Jamie knew they were talking.
“Pa used to say it was rude to whisper when in company,”
Mary Jane looked startled.
“Jamie that was out of order.”
“No…, no he was right, and it was rude of me”.
Michael paused then turned to Jamie.
“Truly I am sorry my son if I offended you, I was actually telling my brother that I wish we, even with all of our genetic enhancements had your natural ability in sensing danger and strength of spirit.”
Jamie lowered his head and blushed.
“I’m sorry sir, I should not have spoken out of order, it’s just to be truthful I’m in some pain and I have this dreadful feeling that there is something very evil out there and that it is coming this way.”
He chocked and then swallowed.
“I can’t say what it is, but I’m scared, whatever it is I can feel it reaching even into my mind,” said Jamey.
It was those words that switched Michaels mind into a trail of thoughts; Mary Jane left the room and gathered her sisters to help her take the children to safety. As she waved and blew a kiss to some of the children, she lowered the hatch, it was heavy and took all of her strength to keep if from falling loudly into place. In the past when this had happened it had echoed like the inside of a drum, within the rooms below.
As it rested into place, she could hear one of her sisters closing the two hatches below forming a triple sealed entrance, which in itself now made the rooms below her feet almost impregnable, certainly safe from fire and storms; and even the most horrendous of tornadoes.
Only seven miles away, Virgos stood and viewed the valley below him and watched the homestead. Minstrel paused he recognised the view, having himself stood there for many an hour, as it offered security and cover yet gave a clear view of all approaching that region from the access roads and surrounding area.
Minstrel had viewed the homestead and knew intimately every blade of grass that surrounded the now heavily fortified homestead. Now he felt threatened, having domineered the top of the food chain, he now found it alien to share. From the cluster of a tree only a mile away he himself viewed the homestead, having tasted human flesh he now craved another meal, knowing that within the confines of that cluster of buildings and ring fences was an ample supply of meat.
Robert took hold of Gemma’s hand,
“I’m sorry Gemma but I have some rather unpleasant news to give you”.
Gemma paused and looked into Roberts’s beautiful blue eyes, “its Thomas isn’t it, is he dead?”
“No my child…no, at least that I can tell you for sure, no he was kidnapped by the Undraus family and used for some kind of military mind tests, it would seem that family betrayed our trust, but then, in truth it was much as we had expected of them.”
Gemma looked on; tears flowed freely along her cheeks and into her mouth.
“I’m not exactly sure just how, but it would seem he was somehow rescued by Michael, one of my grandsons and taken into his homestead.”
Gemma wiped away the tears.
“Michael…wasn’t he one of the families…,”
“Yes, my child, and to be truthful we were hurt by their actions and had wanted to make an example of them. But now things are different, as it happens, it could now turn out to be that very small fragment of our family that survives and leads our race into the future.”
Robert could see Gemma was confused, so patiently he informed her of all that had been happening, and of how the Undraus family had tried to take advantage of them and find a way of controlling their family. It was as he spoke that flashes of memory started to return to Gemma.
“Jamie, oh dear God what has happened to Jamie?” Gemma had not realised that she had spoken her thoughts.
“Is that the young man you were with before you met Thomas?”
He knew he had to ask the next question.
There is no way of putting this gently; were you lovers?”
“Yes…, No, Yes, I was with him, and yes, I love him but as a kind of big brother, a friend, who I kind of grew up with”.
She paused, just enough to wipe away a few tears.
“But how…, you were never informed of my connection to him, from what I can remember it was Mrs Undraus that promised me he was in her care and safe.”
Robert swallowed before he delivered his news; he knew Gemma was already in an emotive state due to the situation with Thomas.
“It would seem he was not treated with such care, and released into the hands of the Portland Institute. In truth they are not bad people, it’s just they were led to believe that you and he were political saboteurs, working for the Undraus empire.”
“No…, no dear lord…, please no.”
Although she truly loved Thomas, there was still a part of her that looked on Jamie with great affection and love; having grown up with him throughout her childhood, he had been like an older brother to her and had placed his very life at risk on many an occasion, to ensure her own safety.
“Shush my child, I shall not lie to you, that would be wrong; but I can tell you he is not yet dead…, close to it yes, and its only time now that will tell if he is to survive”
Robert paused and took in a breath.
“However, he sustained acute injuries from the Institute guards, it was they who brutally tortured him, and leaving him in a semi-comatose state.”
Robert had to stop for a few seconds.
“I am ashamed to say he has been paralysed from the neck down.”
Gemma gasped and screamed out.
“No…, no that can’t be true, Mamma Undraus would never have allowed that to have happened, she…, she promised me that he would be cared for.”
Tears were streaming from her eyes.
“Peter had somehow sensed but was unaware at first that sections of the military guarding the outer perimeters were in fact in the pay of the Undraus family,” said Robert.
Gently he lifted a hand and wiped away some of Gemma’s tears.
“When he became aware of this young man, who had refused to divulge even your very name, let alone anything else about you, and of what these people had done to him, Peter was intrigued by his strength of will and character, so he had him taken into one of his inner sanctums.”
Gemma looked up into Roberts eyes; her tears were still flowing, but not as much now.
“He is being nursed and is receiving the very best medical attention available” said Robert.
Gemma sobbed, but started to take control back of her emotions.
“It would seem, just before he went into a coma, he was given certain bio-generic medication by Alex, and Jamie was then unable to avoid giving Alex and Peters whatever information they requested from him, that is how we became aware of who he was and of your involvement with him.”
Alex paused for a few seconds to allow Gemma to wipe her eyes.
“I have already explained to you as to why Peter and Alex had allowed the family to split, it was when we informed him of the Undraus infiltration and of their efforts to destroy his family that Peter in turn updated us on all the events that had brought us to this point in time.”
“How…, how can he have told you so much so quickly “?
“I can only best describe it like downloading a massive volume of information, like that of a computer’s hard RAM memory, and once activated it can pass vast amounts of information within seconds. I admit it is not all apparently clear immediately, and can take some minutes to collate one’s thoughts, and sort through so much. None the less Peters knowledge and memories are transferred, and every member of his extended family becomes aware of all that he wants us to know.”
Gemma looked upwards then hugged Robert.
“I can tell you in all honesty that Jamie is well cared for and has been undergoing a genetic modification, to encourage his damaged nerves to heal and reconnect, it would seem he is a resilient young man and has already re-gained some small use of his arms and hands,” said Robert.
Some distance away in New Mexico Alex walked into the room that housed Jamie.
“How are you feeling today young man”?
Alex genuinely was concerned and had formed a reasonable relationship with his patient, although he preferred to look upon him as a guest.
“I have a friend of yours wanting to know how you are.”
After some minutes Alex had briefly explained that he was in contact with a family that had been looking after Gemma, and this good news had greatly lifted Jamie’s spirit.
Seth had slowly been revealing its inner most secrets and had revealed to the Portland Institute the various plans of world governments which had been plotting against Peter and his ever-growing empire.
Alex had warned Peter of the danger in exposing their newly acquired knowledge; as even though the Undraus Seth was compromised, there was still always a chance that someone would in time have become aware of the Portland Institutes new knowledge, and have deducted that there must be a security breach for them to have acquired it.
Alex lowered the controls to bring his personal eye-viewing screen into range. There as Peter continued talking through his computer, he read the classified information on the screen. It had been agreed between Alex and Peter, to now take every possible caution, as they had not wanted to make it open knowledge, just in case someone from the Undraus Corporation was eventually able to take possession again of another family member, and of extracting whatever information they required from their new prisoner.
Alex flipped the viewing-screen back away from his eye.
“Yes, that would truly explain much, we shall have to take counter-measures, but in such a way as to not reveal our hand,” said Peter as he himself picked up Alex’s thoughts.
Peter was now unable to even move any external mussels other than his eyelids, and sadly even that had become very difficult. Unexpectedly their thoughts were interrupted by a communication received from a Colonel Armstrong.
“Excuse me sir, I have been requested to inform you that your mother is on site and has requested to see you.”
Peter appeared to be momentary taken aback by the announcement, and on seeing his discomfort and surprise Alex answered.
“Is there anything wrong that we need to be made aware of”?
There was a moment’s pause.
“No sir, only that for the first time to my knowledge your mother has arrived with her own security team and several senior members of her Dorset Institute.”
Alex looked across to Peter, as the General continued talking.
“Your mother has also asked me to inform you that your sister will be coming to talk to you as soon as they are all cleared through security.”
Said Alex, and then dismissed the officer, and turning around he walked back to Peters side and rested a hand on his shoulder.
“I’m sure there is nothing wrong, Christine would have informed you had there been.”
It was twenty-two minutes later, when Christine walked into the room accompanied by three of her mother’s scientific team.
“Peter oh Peter my love it’s so good to see you again,”
She had been warned of his rapid diminishing of health and of Alex’s concern in that he would soon have to be kept alive by artificial life supports.
“I know you must be wondering why we never gave you prior warning of our visit,”
She paused to take a breath,
“Well our security has been keeping me informed of the Undraus families’ efforts to infiltrate and bring down our family. We have set into motion our own methods in dealing with this threat, knowing we have to proceed very carefully, as they have unbelievably long arms, and that reach into the very heart and soul of nearly all places of high power.”
Peter was certainly aware of that piece of information.
“Anyway, we thought it better to give no warning of our visit, and we have come into some intelligence that certain guards within the outer and even mid-section parameters are double agents freelancing to the Undraus family. Also, as you are aware, they have been developing their own form of mind control.”
That last statement caught their attention, they had realised the outer parameters were compromised, but until then had not known or been made aware of any further infiltration.
“We have not revealed our knowledge of this, as mother felt we could possibly turn it to our advantage.”
Peter agreed and decided to let Alex speak.
“Can you reveal, just what actually brought you here now, I’m sure if it was just a security breach that could have been handled internally.”
“Yes, my big brother, I’m pleased to see you’re still as impatient as ever.”
Alex knew she was teasing him, yet his sister held him in very high esteem, and loving him.
“I shall not keep you in suspense any longer, I’m here with mother, as she has developed something that can save your life Peter, and turn around your illness, freeing you from the confines of this chair and the endless medication that you have to take.”
All this time Christine had deliberately kept her mind blocked shutting out all who tried to access it. Peter looked at his sister, he could not quite place just what it was, but there was something different about her, she was still in his eyes his beautiful twin sister. Yet the body chemistry seemed different, also he had not wanted to say anything, but he thought she had aged a few years since he had last seen her.
“Tell me sis,”
He asked verbally using his computerised voice box,
“As I cannot access your thoughts, has there been anything happening in your own life?”
Christine smiled; she knew she had pulled it off with almost 100% success. Peter and Alex suddenly moved backwards at the shock of their guest opening her mind.
There was stunned silence within the room; it was only broken by the real Christine walking in.
“Oh, Peter I’m so sorry if we startled you, but we felt this was the only way of truly convincing you.”
Alex regained his posture and thoughts; he was like Peter at the top of his chosen field in genetics; yet he realised this knowledge far past even his immense skills.
“How ever did you manage such a magnificent accomplishment?”
Elaine walked over and sat by her son then taking hold of his hand she spoke.
“Please my love, I know you are a desperately independent man, but even I have come to realise that unless you receive help soon, then I fear we are going to lose you.”
Alex knew he was also being included in this conversation.
“All of your extended family, Alex included have been genetically enhanced and will outlive all normal humans by some three to four hundred years.”
She paused as she wiped a single tear from her eye. “They nor the world.”
“Even I could not have survived the progress of time, as without you and your contribution to their vast intellect. If it had not been for your visionary thoughts, not a single member of your extended family would be alive today.”
Peter knew the truth in her words, yet also he knew that within himself that he no longer had the physical strength to continue, and that passing from this world would come within the next few months.
“Mother…, I know what you say is true, but that cannot explain to us, how and exactly what it is that you have done, for a brief while I truly thought you to be your daughter, in almost all ways, other than our body chemistry.”
“Yes, my love, there always was that extra special bonding between you and your sister, which not even I with all my illusions and power could take away from you.”
“Is that what this is, just a simple illusion?”
She could sense the disappointment within his question; it was then that she opened in full her mind, to allow both Peter and Alex to explore deeply into the very foundation thoughts that had brought this apparent miracle to fruition.
Cried out Alex,
“You really did it.”
Peter remained silent, the realisation had dawned on him that this now was offering an avenue of escape, of freedom and longevity of life. His mother smiled.
“My dear Lord, I do sense a glint of jealousy, in that we discovered the secret before you.”
Peter blushed, in truth he was excited yet also scared; and yes, he was just that little bit jealous, he had become very complacent and had grown to look upon his team in been the very best in their respective fields of research. For his mother and her teams of human research technicians to have reached such incredible heights truly humbled him.
“There is only one very small obstacle, and I will not lie to you, it is a very terrifying obstacle to overcome.”
Both Alex and Peter looked in baited anticipation for her to continue.
“You must first surrender your life to actually regain it.”
Her words carried incredible force and power, forcing those listening; to think deeply at what they had just heard.
Before they’re very eyes sat Elaine, and from her appearance and stature, she would pass any medical, with the doctors believing that she was in her early thirties. Never would it have been known that she was now in truth nearing her seventy first birthday. Also, the genetic enhancements had provided her with enhanced mental abilities, by far equal to that of Seth; along with telepathic abilities which were not even thought of by even Peter or Alex.
Although her stature appeared like any healthy human female, she could summons the physical strength of ten very fit men. Along with all this, she had also gained longevity of life and had captured her very soul; the net result was not a clone but actually Elaine herself with a new vastly improved body, and mental abilities that actually were a direct threat to Seth or any version of bio-intelligence.
“Peter your sister and Catherine have undergone the same process, it means they will remain young, fit an active for hundreds of years from now.”
Peter looked at his sister, and then to Catherine and smiled.
Back in the Undraus Empire, Andrew Undraus spoke mentally to his mother, using his version of Seth as the means of transferring his thoughts.
“Robert is due back in the morning, do you still want us to carry forward the…,” his thoughts were interrupted as six uniformed police officers, who had entered his room accompanied by several men and women wearing jackets with FBI written on the back.
“What is the meaning of this, and who let you in…?”
Again, he was unable to continue, as he found himself been physically handled with what he would deem unreasonable aggression. Just before he could re-contact himself with his mother, a neck collar was produced and placed securely around his neck.
“Ah…, good lord man please, please shut this thing off,”
He found himself sinking to the floor and onto his knees and clutching at his head.
“Ahh dear lord please shut this thing off,”
He screamed again.
“Sir, you have that within your own power, simply cut your mental connection with Seth and the pain will immediately leave you, but be warned, we have programmed the collar to increase in intensity every time it is activated.”
He paused and a big smile came on the police officers face, and then he spoke again.
“On certain test subjects it was not unknown to kill them”.
Those words of warning were enough, Andrew was far from a brave man at the best of times and had always preferred to avoid direct conflict. He had grown up knowing that through his family connections, that he could have almost anyone dealt with, even if he had so desired, to of arranged for them to permanently disappear and never to be found again.
It was not a difficult task, when you consider that his family controlled vast industries that included construction, animal feed and even meat packing companies.
“What is it that you want of me; there must have been some kind of a mistake?”
As he finished talking, the door to his office opened and in walked Juliet, her smile said everything, and Andrew needed not ask any further questions.
“Ah I see you have learnt of Thomas,”
Andrews voice was dejected and sullen.
“Yes…, and that was a very unwise course of action to have taken, now you have put into place, a sequence of events that even I am not sure that I can prevent.”
Robert and Juliet, on learning the truth about Thomas had decided to confront the Undraus Corporation direct. When Andrew and his team had vacated the building, Juliet activated through a third party a jamming device that immediately prevented their actions from within their room, in been monitored.
It was from there that Robert had used Seth to directly communicate with Mrs Undraus informing her that her actions had placed their mutual agreement at considerable risk. Understandably there were immediate denials, explaining that her son’s actions had not been authorised and that Thomas would be found and returned immediately.
None the less Juliet had interrupted her abruptly.
“That is too late, you no longer have Thomas in your organisation control, nor do they have the test result, which they so stupidly placed the human race at risk for to merely obtain such trivial results.”
Mrs Undraus could feel the anger within Juliet’s voice and sensed fear even from Seth.
“Please…please I assure you that I truly had no knowledge of Andrews’s actions and that they had been completely unauthorised.”
She knew she was grasping at straws but felt a need to try and reason with her.
“Do you have access to a News channel”?
“Yes…, why do you ask?”
“Just tune in and wait and see,”
Came her reply, then Juliet disconnected the connection.
Her words had rung deep with mother Undraus, no more than seven hours later, word started coming in to the world news stations, of a new flu outbreak, and that already the old and weak were dying. After the twenty-third hour Juliet had once again made contact through Seth by a remote automated signal.
“You will now be aware that we were not fooling when we warned you what would happen if you threatened our family, you are as yet not informed, but seven members of your family, and over seven hundreds of your staff have also become infected; all as a direct result of you ignoring our warnings. Now either deliver up to us all those responsible for this attack or suffer further outbreaks, but this time directly onto your own inner family.”
As it had been a recorded automated signal, Mrs Undraus had been unable to answer, after a further three days it was the Portland Institute that came up with an antidote, miraculously eradicating the outbreak within days. Andrew had been unaware that he was been sacrificed; his mother had made one request in her offer for peace. That Andrews son is allowed to go free and unharmed, as he genuinely had not known of his father’s stupidity, or of the actions that he had taken.
Having acted entirely under his mother’s instructions, Andrew appeared as if he was now confused, betrayed and in a blind panic, not been able to understand how this could have been allowed to happen. As the rest of Andrews’s team were arrested and bundled into various vehicles for transit, Mrs Undraus kept a low profile, observing there every move through stealth surveillance unknown even to Andrew and his team.
“Was its necessary mother to actually use me in this way, now I can never return to my old way of life?”
Mrs Undraus breathed in and then looked deeply into her son’s eyes.
“What I have done here is for the greater good, not only for our family but that of the world. As long as they do not become aware that your replacement is a clone then I’m sure we can pull this off.”
Andrew still felt hurt by his mothers’ actions.
“As for your personal pride and thoughts, stop howling like an injured child, be proud that it was you that was chosen to infiltrate and break into their minds. That clone, although human in every way of appearance and dissection is actually a very advanced genetically enhanced bio computer weapon; almost one might say a living and walking Seth. I am hoping that if my theory is correct then this family may unknowingly be killing themselves.”
Andrew looked on in total amazement; he had no way of ever knowing the depth of his mother’s mind, nor of the diversity of her thoughts.
“What of me though…?”
His question was anticipated and interrupted.
“You will be surgically altered and neuro linguistically reprogrammed, when you awake you will be one of Andrews’s brothers and will genuinely know nothing different.”
He shuddered at the cold-hearted ruthless tone of her voice, she was focused and direct in her actions, refusing to not even allow family from preventing her from reaching her desired goals, believing that the very fate of the human society lay within her and her technicians hands.
The cloned Andrew blinked, shielding his eyes, as he faced the bright light that had suddenly invaded the darkened van.
“Out…out all of you, now,”
Shouted a uniformed guard, quickly the four men and two women almost fell out of the van as their leg irons were pulled sharply.
“If you have a desire to die then this is the very place that your wish will be granted, so unless you all do exactly as ordered, your lives will end here this very day, oh and I may say not very pleasantly, these people have a taste for human flesh and will not think twice of eating you alive.”
His words reached home; quickly the six adults organised themselves and obeyed without question every command no matter how rigorously it was imposed upon them.
“Do you think they’re really worth the effort or the investment?”
Robert looked over to one of his sons that had asked his father the question.
“I know they do not look much, but they were the very best within their field of research, and we desperately need new healthy genetic bloodlines, as it is that frail looking wimp of a man over there is the direct descendent of the Undraus empire.”
Graham his son paused for some second’s then spoke.
“Please forgive me father, if you think what I have to say as out of order, but for the sake of the family I fear I must mention it.”
Graham knew any challenge on his father’s decisions, was or could be taken as a threat; this was something that the family had inherited from their pride.
“If that man is as you say such a direct connection, then why did they let him go so easily, had it been one of our sons or family member, I know you Father, you would have fought if needed with your bare hands to preserve their life?”
His words sank deeply into his father’s mind, after a few seconds of silence he spoke.
“Yes, as you will know your mother and I thought deeply over this, and at the time, we came to the conclusion that it was because Juliet had instigated a release process of one of the moderate flu strains, although they were unaware of the eventual results, it was actually designed to kill itself off within seven days thus eliminating any further outbreaks.”
He listened quietly to his fathers’ words,
“Once Elaine released an antidote, stating that our technicians had found a cure, although it was not needed, the illusion had been successfully carried out.”
He paused for some seconds as he spoke to Juliet through his mind, then turning back towards his son he smiled.
“Juliet thanks you for your observations, and obvious concerns for the family, had you have been wrong, she is very aware of the risk you just took in confronting me in this way.”
Graham accepted his father’s praise and the thanks from his mother.
“If I may father, could I still ask, that he be kept separate and away from the direct family and anything that we may regard as secret or sensitive”?
Robert realised even now there was wisdom in his words, Mrs De-cabroni had proved to be devious and one very venomous lady, and therefore he decided to accept his sons concerns.
“As it is now my son, after the excitement of the moment we can see the very wisdom in your words, knowing and agreeing, that had we been in a similar situation that we…,”
He broke off his words.
“Thomas…, yes of course, so that is what they have done.”
This time his human son was not aware of all the events that had led up to the earlier subterfuge of Thomas and of his direct infiltration into the Portland institute. As he spoke, both Alex and Peter, who were some thousands of miles away, picked up his thoughts?
“Take genetic samples of everyone, so as to not cause suspicions, and isolate Andrews, have it checked by three independent family members and then send me the results,” said Alex.
Robert understood fully the instructions that he had been just given, keeping himself from ripping the man’s throat out, was taking more strength of character than he had at first realised.
It was now becoming dark, yet securely fixed in his position between some trees, proudly stood Minstrel, he had finally thought through, just how the images were appearing within his mind and exactly from whom, and where they were coming from. While lowering his huge head to sip from a cool early morning brook; Minstrel had caught the reflection of the very beast that was now hunting both him and the humans.
He had the added advantage of knowing the general outlay of the homestead and had entered it twice while under basic construction. He was aware there were various bear traps present and having experienced in person the power of the substance that thundered in the ground and air, splitting open even the heaviest of rocks. Also now been aware of its scent and recognised instantly the odours it gave off when been warmed by the mid-morning sun.
An outright battle with the beast would most certainly end in the loss of his life, he knew this, although the beast had recently been injured by automatic gunfire, he also knew that he himself had suffered several such injuries. More importantly he seemed to realise that he had to use his knowledge of the terrain to his advantage and if possible, lore the beast into one of the bear traps where the humans had placed the substance that made such a noise.
It was only when he could see the beast approaching an area, some miles from where he stood, that he decided to move away, knowing he must keep a safe distance at all times between himself the humans and the beast.
It was as he was moving away that he became aware of a female grizzly with three cubs, Minstrel stopped for some minutes, then changed his direction ensuring he kept far enough away from the female yet ensuring she was aware of his distant presence.
Slowly he manoeuvred her in the direction of the beast, she was herself no easy fight, and she had come through the winter fall, healthy and well, having survived without injury to her or her cubs. That gave testament to her survival skills and strength of character and spirit. Before she realised, there within some thirty meters of her arose Virgos his presence had taken her by surprise, sensing the immediate danger to her cubs she confronted the beast and gave immediate chase hoping to give her cubs an opportunity to escape.
Minstrel observed the battle from a distance using it as an advantage in seeing his opponent for the first time; he was truly impressed by the creature’s immense size and stature.
Yet incredibly the female bear ignored such drastic odds, and fought with incredible speed and courage, casually Minstrel took further advantage and killed all three cubs, then carried them to a place of safety where he could eat his meal unchallenged and in safety.
At the homestead there was apprehension as they prepared for the night.
“It’s going to be a hot long night,”
Michael shuffled and moved his neck sideways trying to loosen his still injured muscles and joints. He had no wish to fight yet another one of those beasts, already he now began to understand that they’re defences were crude by comparison, yet even now with all this military hardware and additional boundary fences, he could not help but feel a tinge of fear.
Michael knew from his brothers that there is no describing the pain as those huge claws dig deeply into one’s flesh, and the total feeling of helplessness as Minstrel used his incredible size and strength to throw even the strongest of them around like a child’s toy.
Although he had personally avoided a direct conflict with Minstrel, his brothers had experienced in person the pain and fear in confronting such a beast. By having such direct telepathic abilities all the family members including the children had experienced for themselves the very pain and suffering that their kinfolk was going through.
Jamie’s fortune had changed, it turned out his lower back was not broken as at first thought, it had without questioned been very badly fractured and his ribs were still in need of healing, however it had meant, that with the aid of crutches he was just able to have a limited form of mobility.
What marvelled Michael even more, was that young Jamie had now been injured three times by Minstrel and still the young man turned up for night watch duty. He knew better than to refuse him the honour of such work or of the loss of dignity if he had refused him.
Had he of requested that he only be allowed to be the lookout for the women and children in the inner compound, he would have understood; however, he wanted to be out with the men, so the duty of looking after the women and children had been given to Isaiah.
“Can you see anything?’ Asked Michael, Jamie turned momentarily to face Michael and then once again and faced towards the vast open space, between the outer parameter tower that he now guarded and the wooded area some eighteen hundred yards or so away.
“Not directly sir, these night lenses that you gave me to wear sure make this work easy.”
His enthusiasm almost sung out in his voice,
“I am however concerned though sir,”
Michael knew instantly for Jamie to admit that so openly, meant something had directly taken his attention.
“Can you see anything out of place son?”
“No…no it’s not that sir, it is what I can no longer hear that has my concerns.”
Michael himself suddenly became aware of the silence; even the night crickets that continually echoed and fought for attention had gone deadly quiet. It was an almost endless agony as all could sense imminent danger but were unable to see from where the beasts were going to strike.
It happened with such speed that it caught Jamie and two of the brothers off guard; from the East side of the homestead Minstrel had charged the outer tower. As the men raised their weapons and took aim he suddenly broke off his attack, it was then that from a Northern section of the forest, Virgo had immerged unnoticed, and was upon the tower with such ferocity that it was only when it was some three meters from the tower that it tripped two of the traps.
The thunderous explosions had only momentary thrown it off balance and placed him in a further rage. He lunged at the tower with such force, that over a third of the red wood was ripped away by the force of his immense body been hurled into the towers side, and then a serious of further explosions were set off.
Within seconds he had regained his posture and attacked the tower again, its whole foundation rocked. As he approached it from another angle he set off the final five charges, the resulting explosion was immense; in blind agonising pains of rage the beast swiped out vigorously, tearing huge chunks of the tower away, all three men fell onto the outer parameter outside the protection of the homestead.
Yet Virgo had not even noticed their presence, the blinding flashes had temporally taken away its sight and the beast was now greatly weakened by the vast open wounds that seeped blood from its body, huge splinters from the tower hung in its body and its every move was greeted with rages of anger and pain.
Waiting its chance Minstrel suddenly reappeared and took one of the men, as they lay helpless on the ground, stunned by the suddenness of the events and explosions. Before Michael nor the others could come to their aid, both beasts had once again disappeared into the darkness of the surrounding forest.
It was daylight before the men could search the area safely; there were still the possibility of unexploded traps in the area and two very angry and hungry bears, both possibly wounded, and now even more dangerous than before.
As daylight broke through the morning sky, Michael already knew something was wrong; the attack had almost gone off with military precision and was far too complex to have been that of any random sequence of events.
Not only that, since the fall from the tower Michael and the others had lost physical and mental contact with their other brothers, it was just possible they were unconscious somewhere, yet he knew that to be very unlikely.
As they carefully searched through the rubble it became apparent just what they were up against, several claw marks across the outer wall were over 16 inches across making its paws nearly one and a half feet in width.
“Jamie…oh dear Lord God where is Jamie?”
Tears were flowing from Mary Jane’s eyes, in all the confusion he had been overlooked, and she had not wanted him to go on century duty, thinking his wounds were themselves enough to justify anyone from such an ordeal.
Yet such was his love of his family and his hatred towards old Minstrel that he refused to allow even the slightest opportunity of avenging his Pa’s death and that of the other family members.
“Michael… Michael please quickly come over here.”
The words were said in a cold unenthusiastic manner, as he approached the spot where his brother had indicated; there laid a pool of blood-stained grass and the night vision glasses that Jamie had been wearing. It was only a matter of minutes before one of Mary Jane’s sisters came across the remains of a human.
Screaming aloud, the others raced over to her side. From where they stood, there lying on the ground was the unidentified remains of a crushed scull and a variety of rib bones. No further amount of searching revealed the presence of the other two missing men.
Peter had taken considerable time to prepare himself mentally for his impending death, now he had to re-adjust his thinking and to try and view it as a new beginning.
“How many people would long for such an opportunity to cheat death itself?”
He thought, knowing that for some, that they feared the unknown and of losing control, and been in the mercy of a divine spiritual life force, that they had spent their entire life denying its existence.
Only in realising the very vulnerability of their situation and up till then, that absolutely no amount of money, power, influence or prayer was going to keep them alive. Yet incredible as it seemed, there was Peter, he was at peace with himself; actually in some ways looking forward to no longer suffering and been able to finally close his eyes knowing now that he could soon switch off the millions of voices and thoughts from other people, that unrelentingly seem to be trying to invade their way into his head with almost never ending determination.
At first having grown up with such abilities, he had learnt at an early age how to shut out the voices, instantly teaching his twin sister the moment that he himself had developed the mental controls needed to accomplish such; to allow them both to switch on and off other people’s thoughts at will.
Now as his illness had progressed it had proved more difficult to shut out other people’s thoughts, which at times kept trying to invade his mind.
Peter had found partial refuge by living in this sub terrain city, largely manned by fellow liked minded clones, or his extended family that could all terminate at will such emotions and thoughts.
Yet on occasions when he was particularly ill, he no longer had the mental abilities to block out the invading voices from the human military personnel and could hear sometimes in graphic details the thoughts of those that patrolled, worked and guarded the New Mexico Complex.
“Tell me mother, what truly was it like actually letting go and taking that step from one life into another?”
Elaine rested her hand onto Peters face and gently wiped away some tears,
“At first, I thought I had come to terms with everything and was at total peace with myself, Adrian one of my senior lab technicians had agreed to inject me, thus allowing me to drift into an eternal sleep. Strange even then I was at total peace with myself, and then I saw by chance something that had evaded me since my childhood.”
For a brief moment Peter could see from her eyes the excitement that she was reliving.
“There in my room, right alongside me was Amanda, my friend from our early childhood days in Portland, I know it sounds crazy but honestly she was there. For some seconds we talked, and I could see that I had already vacated my body and was externally aware of what was happening. Then for a very brief few seconds everything changed around me, and I could sense intense evil, the stench actually made me feel sick and my eyes were even burning by some kind of obnoxious invisible fumes.”
The very thought made her momentarily shudder.
“At first, I thought it was Adam that had returned to haunt me, but then I saw that very evil spirit, that had been trying to destroy our family. It was almost as if some supreme spiritual being was showing me into the very mouth of hell itself.”
Elaine paused wondering if she should stop; however, after sensing Peter’s intense interest she continued.
“I could see this dark force pushing its way towards me, swirling like a sickly pungent mist from some forgotten stagnant sewer. No matter how I tried I could no longer run away, my feet were riveted almost rooted to the ground and it was now upon me. I remembered I cried out Father God please help me, in that instant my blood father, your grandfather who you were named after appeared and the image faded away.”
Peter managed to raise his eye in suspense.
“Then I became aware my soul was being drawn back, but this time not into my old body, but that of the new one, when I awoke I could remember every detail, the rest my love is history, or should I say the start to a new and far more exciting life.”
As she finished speaking Peter breathed in with the aid of an artificial lung and mentally instructed the bio computer to administer the injection. As he lay on his bed, he was surrounded by the three most important people in his life, his mother Elaine, and his sister Christine and his loyal friend, companion and care person Alex, having realised the possible difficulties that could affect Christine through their very unique mental connections. Alex had sedated her mind and fitted a blocking device that shielded her mind from any stray unwanted thoughts or instructions of death and of the soul leaving the body.
Elaine knew it would only be a matter of minutes before the entire transfer had taken place, she could not help wondering how her son was going to take to his new healthy and very virile body and enabling him to permanently do away with any form of artificial support.
As the machines beat quietened, a flat line became visible on the monitor, Elaine knew now this was the crucial moment when the very soul vacated its home, in that brief moment in time, having for thousands of years been immeasurable and unreachable by mere mortals and only in the hands of the world’s many Gods or Supreme Spiritual beings.
Now for those brief precious moments Peter was to possibly meet his creator before he was to hopefully return into a new body and a new beginning.
Quietly Robert moved among the various prisoners, the results had been analysed and sent to the New Mexico Institute, also by Elaine’s request, to the Portland base in Dorset England.
Although the test results had not revealed Andrews true identity, both Robert and Elaine were now sure beyond any shadow of a doubt that Mrs Undraus had in place a very advanced and elaborate bio-genetic diversion.
Further samples were taken then Andrew was informed that he was to be visiting some further family members in New Mexico.
Meanwhile in the subterfuge, Mr Undraus sat before a group of Roberts trusted employees.
“Please Mr Undraus, I shall not insult your intellect by telling you lies, the head of our division and family has requested an audience with you to ask why you found our presence such a threat and risked so much in acting outside that of your mother’s authority, she also acknowledges that in your own right you are greatly gifted, and in advance of many human geneticists.”
It was hoped that by informing him in advance, that it would help to relax him in transit. Andrew and four humans along with members of Robert’s family accompanied him in the rear of a very luxurious people carrier. After some three hundred miles of non-stop travelling, Andrew found himself drifting into an unwanted sleep.
Within seconds before he could mentally let alone physically defend himself, his life was almost instantly taken from him, and preventing him from mentally activating any military or civilian satellite surveillance. He had been unaware that the entire motor home was full of the most complex jamming devices and up to date surveillance and monitoring equipment.
Even what Andrew had thought to be transparent glass windows were really complex computer enhanced digital imagery; reflected off titanium lined panels, that had been designed to block out even the most advanced of microwave technology, thus ensuring that no unwanted signals entered or left the vehicle, without the three trained operators been aware of them.
By the time the vehicle had reached its true destination the body had been scanned dissected and frozen into easily moveable packages, no larger than that of an average cigarette box, which used to be so easily available on the open markets. Now such luxuries as cigarettes were confiscated on site, with an instant five thousand pound fine, increased in increments of five thousand every subsequent time. With a ceiling limit of five arrests, after that it was go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect Two hundred pounds, it also carried an instant confiscation of any personal share in whatever properties owned, as it was felt the state was now providing an individual’s accommodation for life, with life meaning just that.
It was felt that such a habit had been proven beyond all doubt to be a method of not only killing an individual, but also those that were unfortunate enough to breathe in the secondary smoke. Amazingly within thirty years of taking these draconian measures the state’s health service was once again free to all those that lived their human lives in line with set guidelines for fitness and health.
The death rate was amazingly reduced by just over 92% with fewer and fewer patients requiring treatment for associated illness. The waiting list had been reduced to four days for a consultation and seven days for an operation, two days for anything urgent or life threatening.
It was Elaine who diagnosed Andrews’s true intention; she shuddered at the cold-hearted thought behind the mind that had created it. Instructions were forwarded that all bar one section of Andrews’s body was to be liquefied and placed into specially designed containers ensuring that at no time any particles came into contact with any of the cloned or genetically enhanced humans.
Elaine’s tests had revealed a trace of Hydroxylamine; in a strength solution of one part to a thousand when blended with a genetically modified sugar compound; Elaine had discovered it reduced tissue rejection on a bio-genetic level.
Had Juliet stayed true to form, Mrs Undraus knew her desire for human flesh occurred in conjunction with her menstrual cycle and that she would find a diverse sadistic pleasure in having Mrs Undraus son for lunch. Had this of taken place, then a mutated form of the flu virus that had been modified to affect only those with traces of Felis catus or Panthera leo in their genetic markers, then this in turn would have spread through her family eliminating them, and in time all of their race.