Contagion - Book Two

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Chapter Nine.

Jamie lifted the pack onto his shoulders and carried his skins with pride. The Alpha wolf had been a magnificent specimen, as had its mate, to have these along with the other skins would mean his aunts and sisters could make warm boots and clothing to help them through this fall.

The quantity of meat and fat collected, took all of the brothers every ounce of their combined collective strength, to pull the heavily laden snow slays. It took them seven days to reach the safety of the homestead, at every step of their way they could sense that they were been followed but had been unable to see where old Minstrel was. Yet there was not a single person among them that was not concerned for their own safety. Life was valuable, and the family was acutely aware that it needed every one of their bloodlines to help it survive.

The celebrations that evening were extensive, and went on through the night into the following day. Evolin woke to find herself in the hay barn with Jamie by her side. She had learnt from her brothers of the story that Jamie had told them, and of how he had acquired the scars, which exposed themselves so graphically on his now part unclothed body. Yet he was attractive, muscular and matured in every area.

Evolin had never tasted home brew before, nor had she experienced such fun with music and barn dancing. Looking across to Jamie, she loomed over his body and gently ran her fingertips across his skin, until they reached the scar on his back.

Michael had picked up her thoughts and smiled, reassuring her that it was normal, he spoke gently to her for some seconds through his mind, and then satisfied she had been placed at ease, he cut off his mental connection, giving them the privacy required.

All fellow brothers obeyed; however, it was Anne that kept the mental link alive, seeing through her eyes all that Evolin her older sister was doing. Jamie stirred but remained asleep; he had downed far more homebrew and was exhausted from the extensive hunting trip. Then he awoke startled, he had been dreaming of his hunting trip, and imagined himself walking with Evolin, then from out of the darkness old Minstrel had appeared. When he felt the lips kissing around his skin, he was startled and shouted. “God oh god he is trying to eat me.”

Evolin was startled, and it took some minutes before she convinced him that Minstrel was not there. Even then Jamie laid down unsure of what she had just told him. However, he could not remove the image of old Minstrel.

Later in the day the group found themselves trying to recover from the after effects of Pas famous home brew, his recipe had been handed down from several generations and had matured with age.

Within one of the families’ root cellars were another thirty-three cases, each case containing twelve bottles. Michael soon discovered it had other valuable properties, which were not to be over looked. Some of the bottles had been found by the children and were been used as target practise, even at such a young age, Pa had taught them to load their own ammunition, and knew the value of the development of such skills.

Suddenly there was an incredible explosion that rocked the very ground from within one of the buildings.

“Good lord.” Cried Mary Jane fearing the worst, the men folk were quickly onto the scene to find a huddled group of scared children, unsure of what is was, that they had done.

“Children, children are you hurt?”

“No sir” answered young Isaiah.

“I think it may have been my fault. I found one of those bottles Pa used for his home brew with a small quantity of brew still in it.”

He paused briefly looking up at Michael.

“In truth I felt so sick from last night that I decided not to drink it and included it with the other bottles that we were using for target practice.”

Michael looked down at the lad.

“That’s ok son, you did right to let me know, but whatever happens I assure you that you did no wrong. Can you remember just how much fluid was actually left in the bottle?”

“Not much sir, not much.”

“Think very carefully son, try and remember.”

Isaiah looked up to his new friend.

“It was no more than a third of an eggcup at the most,”

Michael looked pleased, he thought as much.

“That’s OK son you did right,”

Michael looked across to Andrew and then nodded his head. Within a few minutes he returned with a tumbler, containing only a small quantity of homebrew.

Michael placed it in-between two small boulders and lifted a heavy rock across the top, then ensuring the group was at least a hundred yards clear he raised a rifle to take sight but then lowered it, looking over to Isaiah he smiled.

“Tell me son, have you been practising like I’d shown you?”

“Yes sir.”

“Do you think that you could hit the tumbler, it’s much smaller than a bottle, and it needs to be hit squarely in the lower base?”

Isaiah smiled.

“Yes sir, no problem.”

Isaiah lifted the rifle, took in a deep breath then steadied his hand. As he gently squeezed the trigger, he heard a thunderous sound, looking up he could see a smouldering cloud of dust, and as it settled, he saw the boulders had been split.

“Gee Mr we could use that stuff to make traps,”

“That was just my thoughts,”

Isaiah could see that all present were pleased with the discovery. “Gad man, now I know why old Pa would not let anyone smoke when he was making the brew.”

Michael looked across to Jamie.

“I think I would have liked to have met that Pa of yours, he seems to have been quite some character.”

Mary Jane walked over and whispered into his ear.

“You’re almost looking at him, that kid of his is almost a full carbon copy, more so than young Isaiah here.”

Jamie had walked over to join the crowd, Mary Jane continued talking.

“He kind of has some of me in him, but much more of his father, and even some of his uncles’ attributes.”

Her words only went to strengthen Michael’s first thoughts in allowing Jamie into his side of the family.

“Jamie, Mary Jane and I have been talking; we both agree it would be wise for you and Evolin to seal your relationship permanently.”

Jamie could feel himself blushing in front of his younger family members.

“That’s right Jamie; you’re a man in every way and have proved you have the ability to look after this family as well as yourself.”

Jamie felt good to hear those words of praise and respect in how he had taken on his father’s roll of provider.

“You are loved very much, and we feel that you are ready for such a relationship, it’s settled then, if you agree then you’re to be married tomorrow morning in the custom of our family.”

Jamie could feel the pride and excitement growing within him, he had longed and hoped for such a day, knowing he had taken his Pas place and now wanted the recognition.

A few miles away old Minstrel looked across the canyon, from where he stood sheltered by the deep forest pines, there he could see the homestead and what had been happening.

He shuffled then sniffed the air; in an adjoining field that boarded onto the forest, he could see an approaching female bear. She had three cubs with her and would be a formidable adversary if she felt threatened by him, even placing her very life on the line to save the lives of her cubs.

The snow had made it difficult for her to move; yet she still had the size and strength to cope with its demands. Her cubs however were week and one had started to lag behind, Minstrel quietly observed her as he kept himself downwind, not allowing her the chance in sensing his presence.

He was hungry and needed himself to feed; as the female passed, he kept his distance then followed slowly behind not giving her any reason to suspect his presence. After some hours she had caught site of a lone doe, struggling to cross a partially frozen brook. Experience had taught him that she would leave her cubs to give chase, waiting quietly he watched as the frightened doe tried to escape the fast approaching bear.

Then he saw his chance and sprang from his cover reaching the cubs before the female had even made the kill. Hearing her cubs’ cries she turned giving the doe the vital seconds it needed to escape. By the time she reached where the cubs had been standing two were missing. The third was uninjured and frightened by what had happened.

The mother was enraged yet unsure at first if it was safe to leave her one surviving cub, after some minutes of a token chase she slowed. The snow was hard going; she was tired and weak through hunger. Realising her loss, she returned to the remaining cub and proceeded to leave the area, sniffing the air hoping to find the lone doe.

Old Minstrel had killed only the two male bears and had left the female cub to live. He carried off the offspring with considerable ease, and after he was sure that the mother was no longer pursuing him, he rested, and then ate his newly acquired meal. This was his territory and he knew every square meter of ground, having lived there almost thirteen years. He was by far the largest beast seen in that area for some years and had gained himself a considerable reputation.

Even with the limp he was capable of reaching up to forty-five miles an hour in short spurts, in his younger years he could easily outrun any opposition. Now having sustained many injuries along with old age, his progress was not quite to the standard of his younger years. None the less with age had also come wisdom; he had acquired a taste for human flesh and needed to feast accordingly, but since the unexpected fall and the illness, there were fewer humans around. In the distance he could sense that some wolves were close by and had been attracted by the smell of blood, yet even they feared his presence and would not approach any kill knowing him to still be nearby.

Meanwhile Robert was talking to his wife. “It’s not going to be that easy, I’m not even sure the timing is right,”

Robert looked at his wife, he knew her words were laced with wisdom, yet events had directed their path and had demanded their attention.

“I know my love, yet these humans are not to be underestimated, we knew this day would arrive and had planned accordingly, yes it would have been to our advantage to have had more players in place, but that was not to be. Anyway, look at it differently, and view it as the hunt, one of stalking the prey and leading it to an immanent kill.”

His words had excited her; she viewed such a thought as a challenge and smiled.

“You are right it certainly puts a different view onto the subject.”

Robert grinned.’

“Right let’s face the music as these humans say.”

Robert led seven of his family members into one of the rooms, which came with the building, and had been appointed by Mrs Undraus for their use. It had been equipped with the very latest military surveillance and offered those that so choose to input in the correct sequence of data, a wealth of information from almost any position on or above the globe.

“This my friends are to be our new base, we have been given the fullest assistance of the Canadian Government, we have been assured that America will co-operate and has even granted us full immunity along with these.”

He lifted a box from the table and pulled out several pocket-sized wallets. Passing them across to those in the room, he instructed them to open them, there in their hands were seven badges stamped with the words Ministry of internal security. He could almost taste the excitement from the very air.

I have been assured that these little devices carry far more weight than meets the eye. I have already briefed you before we left the ranch, but now I must inform you there is a changed agenda. At no time are any one of you to divulge anything other than what Juliet or I have authorised with regards our family and our abilities.”

He made a point to speak the words verbally ensuring anyone listening from any unknown surveillance would receive his message and intentions very clearly.

“Should any one of you, come to realise that one of your fellow family members is been compromised, your first duty is to ensure the other members of our family are aware, only then are you to attempt to render any assistance. Should you fail there are certain people unknown to you, who will carry out certain instructions that Juliet and I have given them.”

It was his full intention that he made his remarks, clear and understood.

“I only know of 40% of them, and Juliet only knows the other 40%, thus ensuring that neither of us could divulge their names or locations to the full, and only one other unknown person is aware of the remaining 20%. Should such an attempt be made, then these people that have formed an alliance with us are very aware of the result that their actions will bring on this world.”

His words were cold and precise, and to the point, and not leaving for one moment any question as to how serious he took the survival of his family.

As he had spoken those words Mrs Undraus was made aware of them almost instantly, Seth had been placed at their disposal, yet served only one true master.

“It is good to see you again.”

Robert and his family turned to face Andrew and his son, along with several humans.

“These are the people we have chosen to work alongside you; they are like myself bio-connected to Seth and have in many ways similar abilities to that of yours. They are all experts in their own particular field of research, none are super heroes, and we shall leave the physical approach to your side of the operation.”

Even now he could not help himself and kept placing unnecessary digs in his comments.

“These people are the very best, and I mean just that, the very best in their field of research.”

Juliet had not known of the actual arrangements with regards the human field operatives.

“Just what is it that these people can offer us?” she asked.

Andrew smiled.

“Possibly more than you would give them credit for.”

He then proceeded to introduce each member of his group, this is Gemma-raven; she is a specialist in non-human life forms, along with Astro-physics. Gemma acknowledged the others, after some eight minutes every one was acquainted with, they’re opposite new team members.

Unknown to Andrew each member of Roberts team was born genetic researchers with a master’s degree, they had also acquired the knowledge and skills of every family member and their prospective occupations.

Andrews’s team consisted of two genetic specialists and three Communications consultants, each specialising in slightly different fields of research, along with a military technician and not forgetting Gemma-raven.

“Tell me Ms Raven just what is a non-human life form specialist, going to offer us?”

Robert looked across at one of his brothers, his eyes showed rage at his question. Gemma-raven noticed his strong disapproval and of how his brother had immediately backed down apologising instantly for his insolence.

“That is alright sir, I am often asked such a question, firstly let’s get the name right, I’m not Ms nor Mrs Raven, that is not my first name and I’m surprised someone who is meant to have such a high intelligence, would not have known that.”

Her words were sharp and to the point.

“As for my particular line of skills, it basically runs hand in hand with my other line of work. I specialise in life forms alien to this planet, and already I have dissected several alien creatures not of this world and have extensive knowledge of how such life forms breathe, think, work and even go to the toilet. So, unless you think you can better that…then I suggest you shut your trap and show me the same respect that I have shown you and your fellow family members.”

Robert gulp, he had not foreseen such a reaction, and was suitably impressed by the high-spirited person before him.

“She is correct in her words,” stated Andrew, “and if it had not of been for her direct intervention, your family would have been history, and this conversation would have never of taken place. When we first became aware of your colony, it was Gemma’s place to observe your behaviour patterns, and to collect as much data as humanly possible. I will not hide it from you there were certain high-ranking military personnel that wanted you eliminated immediately.”

Robert could feel the truth in his words.

“In fact, one almost took it into his hands to do just that. It was Gemma who had foreseen his reactions and had him placed under surveillance. When his actions were confirmed, regrettably we had him removed, rest assure yourselves that he will never trouble you again.”

Juliet looked in amazement; she found it difficult to understand why someone would take such actions.

“If I may miss, I can see from your reactions that you are startled. I firmly believe that all life has its rightful place, and as long as it does not prove a direct or immediate threat, then it should be allowed to develop and grow unhindered.” Said Gemma.

Her words had gained an element of respect from Robert and his family.

“Had I authorised your extermination, I had no way of knowing at that time of your knowledge of the flu virus, or of how you intended to release it back into the community. As it is, I have examined the virus and realised that to have been prepared to release it to us, then you must already have a new form, either from this strain or a completely new one. Whatever it matters not, when I asked for your lives to be spared, I genuinely was unaware of how powerful you really are, and of just what in return that you could give to the human race.”

Robert could sense the sincerity in her words.

“Please allow me to continue.”

Andrew had gone to silence her from giving any further information, yet responded immediately to her request, as if she held a position of high authority and respect from the group.

Unknown to Andrew, she was actually his older genetic sister, and along with Andrew had been groomed to take over the family should something happen to Mrs Undraus. On her death there were various family duties that were to be carried out, Seth was to be accessed and was instructed to inform the family directors of her final choice. Her wishes were to be carried out to the word. Seth had been programmed to ensure that not a single word was allowed to go neither unrecognised nor at that, ignored.

“I convinced these people of the importance of this find, and that to have developed and to have come this far unnoticed and unhindered; you have shown a remarkable degree of intellect and skill. I felt sure your knowledge must extend far deeper in certain areas to that of our race, as it transpired my assumptions were, as we now see, proved to be correct.”

Robert nodded his head, but it was Juliet that spoke.

“If what you say is true, then we are truly indebted to you, possibly far more than even you should realise. As for my sons’ reactions and words I assure you it will never happen again, you will be shown the deepest of respect and given our fullest of co-operation. I like you have a desire to live in harmony and also want what is best for my family, for us that is one of survival and growth.”

Her words were acknowledged and even though unrealised, the tonal expressions and words that she spoke, were been analysed.

“If it is your desire, I will terminate my son’s life immediately?”

Her son knew she was deadly serious and took a step backwards; Gemma saw the fear in his eyes and cried out.

“No…no please I was offended by his remarks, but they do not deserve such treatment.”

Those few words had spared his life.

“I instructed my family personally, he was out of order and his words went against my strictest of instructions, please accept my apology.” Said Juliet.

She held out her hand in a gesture of friendship neither Andrew, nor any human present or listening, knew that in an instant she would have killed one of her offspring for the greater good of the family. And that her words were delivered in such a way that even Seth agreed she meant every word that she had spoken.

Gemma reached across and was surprised by how soft her skin appeared, and felt to the touch, it had an almost velvet like quality. Amazingly that was something that had gone unobserved; her thoughts were picked up instantly by Seth and placed into its memory to be acted upon. By the time Juliet had withdrawn her hand, Seth had already updated all linked terminals to instruct various perfumery outlets to be aware of customers with similar skin qualities.

“There, see my son, we have already made gains,”

Both Gemma and Andrew smiled at their mother’s words.

Jamie’s wedding was a joyous occasion; Michael could sense Mary Jane was sad that his Pa could not be there to see his son.

“Would I be correct in thinking you are reflecting on your husband?”

Mary was amazed at his ability to read her thoughts.

“Yes, I feel that he would be proud of his growth and progress, I also feel, had he had the opportunity in ever of getting to know you, that he would have taken to you and your brothers.”

Her speaking was not always quite correct, none the less Michael liked the way she expressed herself and never once belittled her or made her feel uncomfortable.

“As it is he is long gone and…I’m pleased I met up with you and your kin folk, had you not happened to appear on that day, I’m sure that old grisly, may well have killed some more children before we would have downed him.”

She paused becoming quiet for some seconds.

“I miss young Suzy; she was my youngest and had not long come off the breast.”

Michael looked a little puzzled; this time it was Mary Jane’s turn to read his thoughts.

“Ah I can see your thoughts; we hill folk continue to feed our young ones with breast milk until they are about four years. They are able to take solids long before then, but we feel it builds a stronger bonding to the children. Anyway, I wanted another child and found comfort in the child’s dependence on me.”

Michael lifted an arm and placed it over her shoulders.

“You can still have children you know.”

Mary Jane could feel herself blushing but never rebuffed the idea.

It was the custom for the family of those having married, to form a ring around their loved ones, preventing them from leaving. Then placing various gifts into their hands and clothing, after that the couple was to be led to the barn where they were to make their home until a house of their own had been built. Jamie had already acquired knowledge on how the straw felt under his skin, in truth he was looking forward to experiencing it again.

That night Mary Jane invited Michael into her room for the first time.

“Now tell me again what was that you were saying about been able to still have another child?”

He accepted her extended hand and made his way into the sanctum of her bedroom. In the morning word had spread among Mary Jane’s family that Michael had bedded her. In the eyes of the hill folk that was a commitment to marry and they were excited by the thought of another marriage.

It had taken three full days to build the newlyweds a home of their own, Jamie had requested it be kept in the inner sanctum of the homestead, as he knew the value of family and the security in numbers.

It was not a grand building but offered a separate root cellar along with an additional bedroom in readiness for a child. The sleeping quarters were different to the other buildings; they had all been constructed on ground level. However, with the benefit of two chain saws and an ample supply of physical mussel power it had not presented that much of a problem for the team to place the sleeping quarters on a separate level to that of the ground.

The walls and doors had been triple build, ensuring that straw and mud were placed in-between each wall, offering insulation and strength. It also made it more difficult for a wild animal such as a grisly to force its way into the building.

The hill folk had been impressed, the snow had presented certain difficulties and would have made it almost impossible for Mary Janes hill blood kin, to have built such a home with their basic hand tools. Mary Jane could see the value of such a construction and spoke with Michael.

“Would you be able to make such a home for us?”

“Does that mean you’re asking me to marry you?”

Mary Jane smiled.

“In our families eyes the moment you slept with me you had already made that choice.”

Michael paused.

“I was kind of hoping that was the case, yes I would very much like to have you as my wife, as for your question. I can see no reason why we could not have such a building erected in the same time it took to build Jamie’s.”

Mary Jane could feel herself blushing.

“Hold on for one minute their Mr, I have not actually said yes yet, not that I won’t.”

Michael new she was toying with him.

“I would like to talk about some alterations over with you first. Pa showed me a place in the forest where a species of wood grows that seems impregnable to fire, the trees grow to an incredible height and for some reason fire finds it really difficult to take hold and to burn. It is useless as winter fuel but makes very strong axe handles and other hand tools. The table in our kitchen is made from that wood,”

Michael listened with interest, as Mary Jane continued.

“I would like the house to be built much larger to accommodate my other children and any future family that we may have, also I think it would be wise to build some underground rooms with restricted access from the floor. Should for some reason we ever need to shelter or find refuge, then it would be easier for the family to group together in such rooms, where the ceiling is built like the walls triple strengthened and strong enough to stop even the likes of old Minstrel from reaching us.”

Michael could see the fear in her eyes, old Minstrel had left a serious scar on this family and he knew that he would have to ensure his family prevented the beast ever harming them again. He had even given thought to sending some of the family out to search out the beast and take its life but had also been aware of how the old boy somehow sensed their presence and managed to always avoid their traps.

It was a harsh fall and would take extensive energy to seek out the beast, he knew it would have to find itself a shelter and hibernate soon. He was hoping that it would be sooner rather than later.

“I like what you are saying, and shall give it some serious thought, we have never built such a building before, but I can’t see why it cannot be done, it would mean having some internal roof supports, as the weight would present a considerable problem. But that does not mean it cannot be done, I shall put my brothers onto it and see what suggestions that they come up with.”

Mary Jane knew he meant his words; she felt secure in his presence and thanked God every day and night for bringing them across her homestead.

Two large explosions interrupted her thoughts.

“My traps,” Thought Michael, he had hoped that old Minstrel had strayed into one of them, but he had a sickly feeling that something was not quite right. As the family rushed from their buildings they descended onto the site of the explosions, there among the rubble were the unmistakable footprints of a very large grisly.

“Oh lord that old bugger has deliberately set off those traps,”

From a distance their thoughts and words were again interrupted, but this time by a child’s screams. By the time Michael and the others had crossed the three hundred yards of snow, old Minstrel had already left the scene. Another child had been killed and taken away.

Professor Lambert found himself having extreme difficulty in controlling his actions. His strength of will had made it impossible for the beast, in such a short time to simply take full control, it was itself weekend by its lack of substance and had never before had a host with such strong will power.

It took Lambert several more seconds before he found himself unable to any longer resist, as he reached out to touch Elaine, only he found his hand passing straight through her. Screaming out in rage the demon realised that it had been duped. Elaine and her family had never been present in the room. She had instructed that their genetic sweat glands be bio genetically developed and grown into lab rats, when the beast entered the room, he instantly picked up their cent and was fooled into believing they were actually in the room.

The hologram had been developed by one of Elaine’s companies for military use, in the eyes of professor Lambert they were actually in the room talking and moving with no indication of it been simply a very advanced and complex image.

Frantically Lambert found himself rushing to the security doors, but soon realised even he never had the strength needed to force open the doors or break through the transparent walls. As his hands pounded onto what he had thought was glass, he discovered to his horror that they were in fact titanium steel, especially hardened, highly polished, and developed to reflect light and act as a large viewing screen.

The metals strength was developed to withstand even the harshest of nuclear blasts; Lambert looked up at another image that appeared in the room. It was of Peter, no longer restricted by the confines of is power chair, in this image he was fit active and able to move and walk with complete freedom.

Unknown to Lambert Peter was still confined to his power chair, however it was Peters desire to not give this dying man even the smallest of satisfaction to grasp onto.

“I see you have discovered my little ploy; I’m talking to Mr Lambert now not you.”

He was looking the beast straight into its eyes.

“You expressed an opinion in my early days, while I was in the university, that I was a waist of space and in your very own words, a worthless failure as a human, not worth even the ground that my power chair occupied.”

Lambert could feel his heart panic, sweat was dripping from his forehead, and he clutched his chest and doubled up in acute pain. Within a few seconds he could no longer breathe and could feel his life force leaving his body. Minutes later he awoke still in the room and unsure of what had just happened, as it dawned on him, that it had not been a terrible nightmare, he could be seen to tremble with fear.

“As I was saying before you so rudely died on me, and tried to leave the room, your opinions caused me considerable pain, I later discovered you hated all disabled people and that it was not just me. So, I resolved to eventually seek my revenge and instructed the military to employ you, that way ensuring that you would eventually come when I summoned you.”

Lambert found himself hurtling towards the image only to pass once again through him. The demon was raged and wanted to vent its anger and not to be denied its revenge. It could sense the temperature been lowered in the room, knowing that Peter and his family had yet again found a way of entombing it and preventing it from reaching them.

Peter continued, knowing that Lambert would soon not have the ability to hear his words.

“I know you will not believe me just now, but as long as that creature within you inhabits your body, you shall never die. So, I have infected you with a genetically manufactured virus that was activated the moment you stepped foot into this room.”

The demon knew already the truth in his words.

“In a few days you will find your skin developing sores and your muscles will not have the strength to support your body. Even your head will become too heavy and will eventually fall breaking your neck. Your heart muscles will fail causing you daily heart attacks, yet the demon within you will not allow you to die but will not have the ability either to fully heal you.”

The professor was in an uncontrolled rage, yet already at the mercy of his captors.

“It will take all its strength to keep you alive and heal your broken bones, by reducing its food intake and keeping it at a certain temperature we have discovered it greatly reduces its reproductive abilities.”

Lambert suffered another rib breaking heart attack, Peter waited patiently for him to return again from the dead.

“I do wish you would stop dying on me like that, it is most rude of you. Anyway as I was saying, you are to discover just what it means to be disabled and dependent on others to keep you alive, but in your case you will pray daily for a merciful release, but for you, that will never come.”

Peter paused allowing Lambert time to let off steam, and he smiled at the verbal abuse that he shouted towards him, and then to watch him break down, into a torrent of tears and begging for mercy.

“Mercy you asked me for mercy, when all you ever showed me, and others was nothing but contempt. I shall give you mercy, in the adjoining room is a conveyor belt that will deliver you food on a daily basis, and each meal will be, infected rotten rat meat. At first, I’m sure you will do your best to avoid eating it, I’ve heard the maggots taste rather foul. But that demon within you will in time force you to eat, no matter how much you resist, and in time you will not have the strength to resist, and then you can reflect upon the mercy which you showed to me and the love of my heart, who at one day I had planned to marry.”

Peter paused for only a brief second, but the anger within him was such that he wanted revenge. “Mercy, you dip shit stupid idiot, mercy is for those who deserve it, all you deserve is eternal torment, and that…, that is not even enough, the pain you inflicted unto others, who were defenceless to protect themselves, and needing kindness and love, never even entered into your blackened heart. In my eyes you are more of a monster than the beast that now inhabits you, and I imagine in time even it will be sickened at your pitiful whimpering.”

Peter was usually a quiet loving person, who genuinely would not harm anyone, however the person he was viewing in the monitor had broken his heart and stolen from him, his one and only true love.

Peter was enjoying himself, finally now the family was free of the curse from the demon which had inhabited Adam, from all those years past.

“It is impossible to escape through the delivery system. The system has been equipped with sensors and will know the moment your host attempts to leave your body. You see if it does, then you will die rather rapidly; at best it would only succeed in leaving this room. If you cast your mind back to when you entered this prison, you past through five similar security doors before you even arrived here. Believe it, you or it will never, and this time I mean never leave this establishment or these rooms.”

At that the image faded leaving the professor along with his uninvited guest to come to terms with their new home.

Mrs Undraus rested; it had been seven months since she had first captured Thomas. Much progress had been made and now Robert and his family were actively working with the Undraus team. A detailed floor plan had been agreed on as to Robert and Juliet’s memory at the time of their residence in the Portland Institute; also, details had been given of all occupants who were resident there at that time.

Robert had shared his extensive knowledge on advanced genetics, along with his knowledge of any other activities, which he was aware the institute had been researching into, however he held back his knowledge in his specialised field of genetic cloning, having managed to convince the team that his line of research only lay in the area of the reproductive systems.

He was able to contribute theory as to why the virus had mutated, and how the anti-viruses side effects could possibly affect the human reproduction mechanism. This in itself was an immense breakthrough and had covered areas that the Undraus team had never even considered or examined.

Seth’s ability to digest vast volumes of data at speeds unheard of, even when Robert had been resident at the Institute, only helped to advance their progress. Mrs Undraus had left strict instructions to her team in finding a method to reverse the side effects of the anti-flu virus, also to compute and explore the various variables of possible known or unknown mutations.

Four members of the team, two from each family had been assigned to infiltrating their way into the Portland institute through military channels. Mrs Undraus power extended deep into the hall of various world governments including in part, those of the America’s.

The team members were presented as military specialists, it had been comparatively easy for Seth to access any database that operated his system throughout the world, and gave himself unhindered and unrestricted access, without ever alerting the respective operatives of the intrusion.

Richard and Christine came from the Undraus team along with Malcolm and Thomas from Robert’s family. Gemma had requested permission to follow Thomas, but refusal came from both families.

Mrs Undraus wiped away a tear, having to sacrifice Gemma like that had dug deeply into her soul. She had always been such a high-spirited individual, with a love for life; to have genetically altered her emotional response and to wipe away such vast areas of the woman’s memory had not been done easily.

Jamie, Gemma’s friend, had been handed over to the Portland Institute, his knowledge of Gemma’s where about was genuinely limited, and he would have been unable to give them any information of value. He had not been seen nor heard of again.

Gemma walked up and down the floor, she could feel the child growing within her and longed to see and hold Thomas again, and the family had accepted her and taken it within themselves to watch over her.

Human pregnancies offered greater complications to those of the hybrids, also she was carrying an alien child within her womb, only once had a human host aborted. The loss had been deeply felt within the family, when it had been discovered that the mother was no longer able to carry children, the woman had turned on the family in a moment of grief that proved a fatal mistake.

Her remains were quietly disposed of, along with the various other cattle bones that was ground down into a fine powder, to be mixed with various organic materials, and used as a fertiliser. Even though Gemma was aware of the reduced pregnancy time, she had not really grasp that the child she was carrying, was due to be born within the next few days, and unknown to her or the other family members, she was actually carrying triplets.

Only Juliet and one other, had given birth to three babies before, such an occasion was rare and one to be celebrated.

“Please child do not fret so much, your making me dizzy with all you’re walking,”

Gemma looked up to see Katherine and Susan the oldest of the female hybrids. They had overseen more births now than they cared to remember yet were deeply excited at the prospect of any additions to the family.

Gemma had kind of adopted them, as paternal parents, and used them as a sounding board in having to readjust to her new life style. Juliet had shown great wisdom in appointing these two to oversee Gemma’s welfare. She had been unable to say exactly why, but something informed her that this woman’s contribution to this family was going to be very substantial.

“Oh, dear lord look,”

Cried out Katherine, at that moment Gemma became aware of water running down her legs.

“The child’s water has broken,”

Gemma looked up in rage.

“Do stop calling me a child…,” Demanded Gemma. She knew it was meant in no other way, then in love and affection. Both of these women had truly grown to love Gemma, especially her fiery temper and high spirits.

On a few occasions she had not thought twice about rebuffing Robert or any of the other men folk in the ranch. Her stature was almost frail by comparison, yet her strength of will and temperament, more than compensated for her lack of height or physical strength.

Quickly the women led Gemma into one of the ranches out houses, and laid her on her bed, word had already gone out of the immanent birth. Juliet looked across the room towards Robert, even though they were now over a thousand miles away, they had picked up the emotional excitement and knew of the coming birth.

“Oh God I’m sorry, I’m sorry I should have listened to you, please Lord, please let my baby be all right,” said Gemma. She was not as prepared as she had thought; Thomas looked on through the eyes of his relatives wishing he could be there in person.

Had Mrs Undraus not requested him onto the team, then he would have been by her side, as it was, he understood exactly what the family was fighting for and knew that he needed to play his part.

Gemma’s heart increased with the excitement, the pain had been like nothing she had ever experienced before, as she laboured crying out in pain, a flash of memory crossed through her mind, for no more than a few seconds she saw the image of Jamie.

Then as quickly as he had appeared, her memory and knowledge of him disappeared, the first child was born at 14.22hrs followed almost immediately to the surprise of Katherine and Susan by another. Unknown to all, another child lay only a few minutes away, The Joy within the ranch was one of jubilation, both babies were very beautiful and although small for hybrids were none the less in perfect health.

“Ahh…” Cried out Gemma, as another surge of pain rippled its way through her body. Katherine looked at her sister. “No…surely not a third?”

Within a few seconds she had confirmed that indeed another child was on its way. However, this delivery was far from easy, the child was huge by comparison, and weighing in at three times the weight and almost twice their size of the others.

“Dear Lord” Cried Susan as the baby’s head started to slide into her hands, “Oh lord, oh lord, Ahh” she screamed in pain.

It was all Gemma could do to stop herself from passing out. Again, another image of Jamie re-appeared in her memory, this time for a brief few seconds she could remember how much she had loved him and of her conversations with Mrs Undraus. It took a full thirty-three minutes before the third child was delivered into the world; Gemma lay back exhausted and almost unable to move.

“My…oh my, child you have done our Thomas proud,”

Gemma opened her eyes to see three healthy babies wrapped in clean white linen, reaching out she took one of the babies to her breast.

“Ah that’s something the good lord had not foreseen, I’m a nipple short,”

The women burst out laughing. It was not uncommon within the family to have surrogate mothers that would wet nurse the babies.

“I did not ask what sex they are?”

Katherine smiled

“The first two were both females, the third is an incredibly healthy male.”

Unknown to Gemma the family value such a male with great pride, as it had not been uncommon for such babies to grow into men, who then in turn can sire, twins or triplets with ease.

Robert had walked over to Juliet; standing behind her he embraced his huge muscular arms around her.

“It looks as if your vision and thoughts on that one was correct as usual.”

Juliet tilted her head back resting securely in his broad chest.

“Did you ever doubt my ability then?”

Robert could sense that she was teasing him; the excitement of the birth had filtered through the entire family, and even Alex and Peter from across in New Mexico, raised their heads, and gave a smile.

Meanwhile back at the farmstead, Jamie cuddled alongside his wife, already she had shown signs of a pregnancy, and the news pleased Michael and his family. The loss of the child to old Minstrel, had deeply affected everyone’s morale, and at the time, Michael had wanted to search it out there and then, and his rage was such that he took hold of the pickup truck and had flipped it onto its side.

On realising the folly of his anger, he was embarrassed, Mary Jane eased his grieving and soothed his temper. She had herself deeply felt the loss of her sister’s child but had grown accustomed to the deviousness of the old beast.

Within two weeks Mary Jane and Michael had been married, and entered into their new home, designed and built according to Mary Jane’s specifications.

After the loss of the child, the brothers set about building a double ringed parameter with two huge gates that were now patrolled day and night. In-between the two fences along the inner circle were a serious of Bear trap’s, all lined with sharpened spikes, should just in case old Minstrel, or one of its species decide to pay another visit.

The various brothers had teamed up with the remaining sisters, leaving only Anne and Isaiah; Anne had been ready to conceive after her seventh year, however it was felt that unless Isaiah showed an interest, that they would not push the two together. Anne had requested permission months before, and that when Isaiah was ready that she could be his bride.

The two had developed an early friendship and had enjoyed each other’s company; it was simply a matter of waiting for Isaiah’s hormones to kick in. All had gone well, and the new defences were strong and had kept out predators. A few weeks later, Michael awoke, it was early, and the sun had not yet risen, yet he could sense something was wrong. In the distance he could hear what sounded to him like hounds; and to his surprise Mary Jane was already awake and dressing.

“I can’t be sure but that sounds to me like old Jethro and his boys,” said Mary Jane.

Michael had already alerted the others, he looked confused, not understanding in whom she was referring too.

“I can see from your expression, that you’re confused,”

There was a moment’s stillness between the two.

“Who or what in heaven’s name is old Jethro?” enquired Michael.

“He lives in the other valley some fifteen miles yonder those woods, Pa gave him one hell of a thrashing and sent him and two of his sons packing for poaching on our land.” Replied Mary Jane.

Michael looked on in interest,

“Well he swore that he would avenge his humiliation and tried to do that just before the illness took hold of our family.”

She paused and smiled at the expression on Michael’s face.

“Jamie had Wolfe then, that hybrid he was telling you about, well fortunately the beast alerted us to someone coming, and gave us time to reach our guns. Boy we sure gave them a hiding that day.”

The smile on her face told a story in itself,

“Well I was wondering how long it would be before he got news of Pa and the others dying like. As far as he knows we still have old Wolfe, and possibly more, so I guess the hounds are for him.”

Michael took in a deep breath,

“How would you like us to handle this?”

“He’s a bloody monster Mr, I’m sure it was him that had baited this area in the beginning, that’s what I think started attracting the bears, once they realised, we were here and tasted human flesh, there was no ridding of them. As far as I’m concerned you can blow his bloody head off,”

Michael had been relaying the conversation to the others,

“I guess you’re not to found of him then.”

Mary Jane could see the smile on her new husband’s face.

“Remind me not to go upsetting you and your sisters,” said Michael.

Mary Jane saw him, gently laughing at her and threw her coat at him.

To Jethro’s surprise, he found the gates open and the homestead unguarded. He released the hounds, and then followed in slowly, the homes had changed since he had last visited the area, unknown to him Mary Jane and her family were safely secure in one of the underground rooms.

As Jethro and his brothers searched each house they started shouting and lifting the various fancy clothes that the women had made themselves from the material brought to the homestead by Andrew. The dogs had congregated around the old barn and were howling.

“My, oh my boys, it looks as if the cowards have taken refuge in here like.”

He beckoned to his sons to surround the building, there were eleven of them, all typical hill folk, unwashed and ill mannered, having little regard for anyone outside of their family.

The dogs suddenly turned and faced one of the outer fences, they had stopped their incessant barking and had hunched low to the ground. Their hackles were raised, and they growled deeply in fear of their lives.

“Pa…what is it pa, I’ve never seen them act so scared before,”

Only once had Jethro seen them act slightly the same, and that was when old Minstrel had been following them. But even then, they showed more courage than now.

“I can’t say as I know, but whatever it is, if it’s got them scared, and if that’s the case it can’t be that good for us.”

His words were hardly spoken, when three of Andrews’s brothers appeared to have leapt from behind the boundary fence. Jethro looked in amazement; while most of the dogs backed away, yet the four that Jethro had by his side stood their ground.

“Go my boys, go and gets them.” Said Jethro as he instructed his dogs to attack.

At first the dogs were hesitant until their master raised his voice, within a few seconds they had reached the three men and leapt forward. In less time than it had taken to reach the three men, the dogs lay dead on the ground.

Before any of Jethro’s men could even raise a gun, they became aware of other men leaping over the fence. “Dear lord in heaven what sort of men are you that can leap a seven-meter fence” cried out Billy.

“Dead ones,” Replied Jethro, as he fired his gun, yet to his amazement no sooner had he a target in his sight, then it had gone. Never had he seen or even expected such speed before, within seconds there was a noise behind them, as they heard the barn doors opening.

Jethro looked down expecting to see the remaining dogs; they had all left the site and found refuge in various locations away from the approaching men.

Professor Lambert had long since resolved to keeping himself alive, having been informed of the demon within him, he took it into his mind to try and communicate with the beast.

Even now after all these months he had found it difficult to adjust to his diet, the meat was never cooked, and at times riddled with maggots. It was however the maggots that had given him an idea, of possibly executing some form of revenge.

He mustered what strength he could and then he spoke to the demon. “It may amuse you to punish me, but if you want true revenge, then it will only ever be obtained by our working together.” Said the professor.

Lambert was trying to communicate with the beast, which now inhabited him.

Peter’s words had haunted his every breath, and after a week he had experienced the first break in his neck, unfortunately it had not been a clean break, and had failed to sever any nerves, resulting in an agonising death. As the weeks turned into months his bones had become very brittle, the muscles that were an essential part in supporting the skeletal structure kept wasting away to the point of total failure.

As Peter had predicted the demons healing ability had been greatly reduced, yet the professor had realised as small as it may seem, the life force found from many thousands of maggots may be enough to regenerate in part the demon.

“I’m offering you myself as a living sacrifice,” he said, and in time the demon found no pleasure in this man’s torment and almost respected his stubborn efforts to communicate.

“Enough of your constant babbling,”

Lambert barely had the strength to form his words but had realised the beast was actually talking to him from within. Rather than wasting further strength Lambert formed the words through thought.

“I was wondering when you would tire and listen to me. If what that pathetic excuse for a human said was correct, then you need to feed on a life force to regenerate your own strength.”

The demon toyed with the man, then in time answered.

“Your assumptions are astute and correct,”

Lambert knew that he would soon die yet again, possibly, within the hour; however, he had refused to allow himself to ever lose his mental ability.

“What I’m proposing is that we allow some of these maggots to pupate into flies, in time it will be possible for them to feed on my rotting flesh. There are several working lamps in this room; if we collectively use their heat source, it will encourage their growth. In turn they can feed on me.”

The Demon thought quietly over his words.

“You have a strange desire to enjoy pain?”

Lambert laughed,

“Good lord man no, I’d rather not ever have to face such an option, however I’m practical enough to realise, that to generate the type of life force you would require; then there must be many thousands of those ugly creatures. The only way of that ever happening is to use my rotting flesh for them to feed on.”

There were several minutes of silence,

I agree…what is it you want from me?”

At that moment Lambert was sadly unable to answer his question; he felt the very life force within him yet again giving way.

Peter had lost interest in tormenting Lambert; at first, he had found great pleasure in having gained such destructive revenge. Yet after the third month it had sickened him to see the state of the man, which had once been regarded as a considerable genius in his field of research.

Unknown to Lambert, Peter had commissioned him into researching into his own death. By providing him with grafted segments of a strain of a virulent Leprosy, and vials containing DNA segments of the muscular decease that had so aggressively invaded his own body.

Professor Lambert had been informed that military and civilian intelligence had reported certain echo terrorists, had developed a strain of virulent Leprosy, which was immune to any known anti bodies.

This virus also had the added ability to waist a person muscular development, rendering its victims to a certain slow death. His brief was simple, discover how they produced this virus then produce an anti-body.

It had been comparatively easy for the military to ensure Lambert contracted the virus. Peter’s skill came in ensuring it remained dormant, until Lambert breathed in certain air particles that had been released into the room, where he had thought he saw Elaine and her family, that day in the inner chambers.

“Mother, how is England?”

Peter viewed the videophone screen displayed against a wall.

“Better than I had imagined, I never realised just how much I loved and missed this old Lighthouse.”

When she was a mere child, her father whom her son had been named after, had purchased the Lighthouse, in those early days, his vast fortune was only brought about by a series of events, which he had used to his advantage and managed wisely.

By the time he died it was estimated the families’ worth was approximately Three Hundred and Thirty Million in ready cash, and countless millions tied up in various businesses. Now all these years later after her mother’s death, she had inherited the families’ empire, it was estimated her worth to exceed some Fifteen Thousand Billion in cash and stock.

The real difficulty came from the numerous off shore companies, there tax rate was different to that of the United Kingdoms. Various magazines had estimated, stating that is, the other companies aside; that her financial worth was such that she earned in excess of a Thousand UK pounds a second, in interest alone, and that was with the income they were aware of.

Her acquiring of the research Institute had largely brought this about, as it had in those early days been paid for by her mother’s private income. And was in its own right separate from the countless Billions brought in by Peters various industries and research units.

“Your grandfathers’ fossil museum is still bringing untold pleasure to people from all across the world, I actually went there myself yesterday, and it was so strange, as I have not actually been there for over five years. It brought back memories of those early days, and of how Amanda and I used to tease those workmen. Also, of how we played on the lawn outside the Lighthouse, and the time, when daddy found Amanda’s body buried deep in those bones trapped in that pit under all that water.”

Peter could sense his mother had been upset by the last few months, in truth it had been exhausting for everyone. Elaine was becoming no younger and the strain had taken its toll.

“Mother you need to rest, why don’t you use the studio and do some painting?”

Elaine never answered,

“Mother…, mum,”

Peter saw her close her eyes, and then fall out of view.

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