Grace was aboard her private jet. It would be a long flight and she was already nervous. She didn’t trust flying but it was too far to travel by boat. She needed to be in the Americas by the next day if her plan was going to work. If? She laughed at that, it was her plan, of course it would work.
With the improvements to her DNA, she was convinced she was invincible. Still, just to be sure, she was taking lots of precautions. The pilot and the co-pilot had their families under constant surveillance in case they were persuaded to try to crash the plane. She wouldn’t eat or drink anything on the flight she hadn’t brought with her and most importantly she had her four lieutenants heavily sedated and locked in titanium chains binding both their front and rear paws. That way there would be no chance of one of them doing anything while the plane was in flight.
As self-assured as Grace was, even she didn’t think she could walk away from a plane crash. She might just fly away from one though. And now that she had the Scythian DNA added to her own, she could do that very thing. The file explaining what Scythians were, was waiting for the new Grace when she was released from stasis. The first thing she did was figure out how to capture some of them.
All the knowledge of the previous Grace had already been downloaded into her brain when she awoke as a young woman. Thankfully, another brilliant move on the previous Grace’s part, starting out fully adult and avoiding things like puberty altogether. Yes, all the information was there except the very end. It seemed as though the Canadian master warlock, Zeus had killed the previous Grace, just as his daughter had managed to kill the one before that.
She had spent a small fortune and many bribes to get her hands on the video from the mansion, the one they had sent to the Canadian Prime Minister and his cabinet. It showed her that her previous self was ready to pluck the arms from the shifted form of Zeus when there was a blinding light. The last thing the video recorded was Zeus standing over the bloody body with it’s heart in his hands.
Grace wanted to know what had happened, she also wanted Zeus to pay for what he had done. She had spent weeks learning everything about the warlock. Unfortunately, there wasn’t that much to learn. He evidently had a superior genius working with or for him because she couldn’t find anything about him online. Even the black web had virtually no info on him. All her sources knew who he was and what he was capable of, but nothing beyond that.
His financials, his history, his family, all of it had been neatly erased. Well, most of it. She had found out that he had a grandson that was still alive, his name was Gabriel and he had been trained as a warlock too. That was where she was going to hurt the master warlock. She was going to destroy the grandson and then the grandfather. She wasn’t going to use an army, besides with her new lieutenants, she didn’t need an army. Not that she really needed them, she was more than a match for a rookie warlock and an old man.
Grace was convinced that Zeus used some kind of trick to kill her previous version, not skill or ability. She had already decided the old man was living off the history made by his younger self. He couldn’t still be a match for even one of her lieutenants, let alone her. She knew next to nothing about the grandson, Gabriel, but she didn’t need to know any more than she did. He was young, about her age and he was a rookie warlock. Sure, he was trained by the old man, but he was still a rookie and he would have no chance against her lieutenants.
All these thoughts were passing through Grace’s head when the flight attendant came to give her a cold drink in a very expensive glass. In order to place the new drink on the side table next to Grace, the attendant moved the drink already setting there. Grace saw her seemingly switch the two glasses, so it was hard to tell which one had been the original.
As the moon was already up, Grace was able to transform instantaneously into her White Alpha form. Before the attendant could do anything about it, Grace had her by the neck with her feet dangling off the ground.
“Who are you working for?” Grace demanded.
“No one, only you,” the attendant tried to say. She had to mouth the words because Grace had cut off her air supply and she was unable to speak.
Unfortunately, Grace didn’t believe her. With a flick of her wrist, she snapped the young woman’s neck and tossed her toward the back of the plan, near her drugged lieutenants. At least they’d have a snack ready for them when they were awake. Too bad Grace couldn’t see through her own paranoia. The flight attendant had been telling the truth, she really was only bringing her a fresh, cold drink.
Grace transformed back into her human form and took both glasses to the galley where she poured them down the sink. Then she went back into her personal carry-on and retrieved another bottled water she had brought with her. It was going to be a long, sleepless trip to the Americas.
As she settled back into her seat, she was thinking of the captives and what new powers they might add to her and her lieutenants. She and the triplets had only managed to extract a few viable DNA sequences from the current batch of Scythians. She had given the power to become water and the ability to become a giant owl to each of her second-generation lieutenants.
The water ability was important as water was on of the few things most shifters feared. Now, they were fearless since they couldn’t drown. Instead they could transform and travel through the water like a wave, impervious to its effects. Their ability to fly provided them with a great tactical advantage. In their owl form, they were almost silent as they dropped in from above. It was also one of the few animals that could see and hear even better than a shifter. There was also the added advantage of being able to assume these forms at any time, day or night. Unlike their shifter forms which required moonlight.
So far, that was one ability Grace had reserved just for herself. Only she could call on her shifter form at will, in the light of day or the dark of night, even without the moon. She was already thinking that she might have to share this one with her new lieutenants though.
Grace was a true genius in the field of genetics. Like her many previous versions and her grandfather before that, she understood genes, DNA and RNA in ways no one else on the planet could. Just as Tesla understood electricity and Einstein understood physics, so did Miss Grace understand genetics. In a few short weeks she had already managed to manipulate the Scythian DNA in ways even the Scythians would find hard to believe.
Grace looked at the clock on the galley wall in front of her. In twelve hours she would be able to start her plan, one that when put into motion would allow her to gather a new group of Scythians and then a quick stop-over to destroy the two Canadian warlocks and then she could return to the lab and continue her modifications of becoming a virtual god among her new breed of shifters she was planning to create!
Grace was a genius in many ways, but not in the ways of the Scythians. One of the captives was in fact a Scythian elder. It was his presence which had allowed the manipulated DNA of Grace and her lieutenants to activate. Once he and his ‘gift’ energy were gone, they would lose their ability to activate their Scythian powers. It was the one aspect of the Scythian abilities that Grace did not yet understand. What would Grace do, when after all the weeks of experiments and tests, her powers no longer worked? If the flight attendant was any indication, it would be bad, very bad.
Grace’s plan was to dismantle the Scythian leadership. Then, she would collect powerful Scythians, get her revenge on Zeus and then get back to the lab where she felt some level of safety. Yes, she needed to return to the lab as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the lab wasn’t going to be the safe-haven she thought it was. Helga had not only silenced the alarms but she also cut-off all outgoing transmissions.
At the time she thought she was keeping Grace from arriving and calling the rest of her security forces to help track her down, instead she was blinding the White Alpha from knowing anything going on in the lab. Helga was now hiding in the one place she thought she might not be found immediately. She was hoping to make her way up the elevator and to Franzee before Grace figured out what had happened. If only she could free the Scythians first!
Outside the lab, in the hallway, Zeus and the twins were searching for a way in. There was a set of massive vault doors on the outside of the lab and even though Zeus believed he could break through them, he thought it best to wait for Dr. Connors. In his desire to break through the doors, Zeus was aware that he might just destroy something valuable in the process.
He and the twins had waited by the elevator until they knew it was descending and then they had moved on up the hallway to investigate further. Moving slowly and checking for additional traps, they had discovered the vault-like doors to the lab at the end of the hallway.
They didn’t have long to wait, the trio of Pierre, Franzee and Dr. Connors came up the hall quickly. They looked hard at Franzee, but since she was with Pierre, nothing was said.
“Think you can open these?” Jaida asked the doctor.
“No need, I’ll do it,” Franzee said.
Before anyone could say anything, she stepped up to the biometric scanner and had both her left hand and right eye scanned. The panel turned green and the massive doors opened slowly.
Zeus held out his left front paw to keep everyone back.
“There are no more traps once you are inside the lab,” Franzee started.
“Quiet!” Zeus insisted.
As the others watched, Zeus stepped into the alcove leading to the lab and sniffed the air. There was something here…he thrust his right front paw into the wall beside him and the panel fell away. Crouching on the floor was a woman, it was Helga and she was crying.
Zeus could tell the woman was not a threat and stepped aside as Franzee and Jaida came up quickly to check on her. Through her sobs, Helga explained what had happened and why she was hiding. Only up close was she able to see that Zeus was not the White Alpha. She was relieved that her ‘army’ had finally come to rescue her.
“What about the Scythians?” Franzee asked Helga.
“I couldn’t help them, but I wanted too. You must believe that! I wanted to free them, but I thought Grace was back in the complex and she was going to kill me for what I did to Christina, so I hid,” Helga explained.
“We must free them,” Zeus said.
As he said it, Jaida pushed the two women to the ground. There, in the lab doorway was a bloody woman holding a handgun. She had the gun pointed at the group but seemed most intent on killing the two sisters. As the women fell to the ground, Jaida rolled in the opposite direction. The gun fired once and then all was still. Everyone looked to see what had happened.
As for Christina, she had a throwing knife deeply imbedded in her forehead. She stood there, blankly staring at the group in front of her for ten seconds, before she finally toppled over, face first onto the floor. Both Helga and Franzee shielded their eyes. They knew she had it coming, and she was a cruel, sadistic sister, but she was their sister.
Jaida stepped quickly up to Zeus, the bullet had struck him squarely in the chest.
“Thank you doctor your vest is completely bullet-proof. And thank you Pierre, that was a beautiful throw,” Zeus said.
Pierre was worried, he had just been forced to kill Franzee’s sister. What would she think of him? As he watched, she left Helga and ran to his arms. Once there, she placed her arms around his neck and held on tight.
“Promise me, you’ll never let me go…promise me, please?” Franzee pleaded.
At that moment, for the first time in his life, Pierre knew for certain what true love was. For the first time, he no longer wanted a life filled with spies, with government officials and full of intrigue. At that moment all he wanted was a quiet cabin, far away from everyone with Franzee in his arms for all eternity.
“I promise,” Pierre said softly.
As the two were embracing, Helga stumbled by Zeus and headed for the third room on the left inside the lab complex. Zeus, Jaida and Anthony followed her. Dr. Connors headed for the main lab and the computers he saw there.
Helga led the small group to the room filled with the Scythian captives. Several of the plexiglass cells were empty and Zeus suspected the worst.
“Yes, there were others, but they are gone now,” Helga said as she worked on the control panel that would allow her to free the Scythians.
“Enough!” roared Zeus.
Without waiting he tore the closest cell door from its base and lifted the heavy piece of plexiglass gently away from the little girl standing in the middle. As soon as he freed her, the girl was gone, and a small snake was quickly slithering away.
Without hesitation, Zeus tore the next cell door off and released an elderly man. Instead of changing, the man quickly followed the snake and gently picked it up. As soon as he did, it was once more a little girl, probably no more than five years old. The man stepped to the doorway and held the girl as he watched Zeus release the rest of the Scythians. One by one, they all went and stood with the elderly man. None of them tried to escape beyond the doorway. Once they were all freed, Zeus went to the waiting group.
“Why does a shifter free my people?” the elderly man asked.
“We came to destroy the one that captured you and to destroy this lab. We didn’t know that you were here. I’m sorry for what you’ve been through,” Zeus answered.
“You were not surprised when Gladelynn transformed into a snake. Why?” asked the elderly man.
“I know what you are. Your secret is safe with us. My grandson is also a Scythian,” Zeus answered.
“You are a relative of the hybrid Gabriel? We elders know of him and his clan in Western Canada. Is that where you are from?” the elder asked.
“Yes, I am his grandfather and we are from Canada, we are now known as the Angels. If you are from America or Canada, we can provide you with a ride home,” Zeus added.
He knew these people had amazing abilities but right now, all he saw were a frightened group of gentle, simple people. There was no doubt about it, this Grace was just as evil as her predecessor. How could she experiment on children and the elderly? Was there no limit to her cruelty?
Anthony, Jaida and Helga helped lead the Scythians toward the elevator and the freedom of the world above them. Zeus went to check on the doctor and his progress with the lab’s computers.
“What have you discovered?” Zeus asked.
“It’s unbelievable! This is more of a living machine than a computer. It’s the closest thing I’ve seen to a fully functioning artificial intelligence.” Dr. Connors replied.
“So, you’ll want to take it home with us,” Zeus asked.
“Want to, yes. Going to, definitely not! This computer and its program are so advanced, anywhere I took it, it would rebuild itself and alert Grace to its whereabouts. Now that I understand what can be done, I can duplicate it on my own. The best we can do is to destroy this one completely, and I mean completely. Not a single component can be left intact,” Dr. Connors explained.
“And how do we do that?” Zeus asked.
“This thing has a nuclear core, its small, on the micro scale, but very powerful. Like all nuclear engines it must be cooled constantly. This lab was built over a giant reservoir deep underneath us. If we shut off the cooling system, it’ll burn itself to ashes. It’s small, and so deep underground, the collateral damage will be negligible,” Dr. Connors answered.
“We’ll need to burn off the residue from the meltdown, so it doesn’t make its way to the surface and contaminate the national park this farm is built on. You take care of the cooling system and I’ll take care of the rest,” Zeus said.
Zeus made sure the rest of the group and the Scythians were in the courtyard above the lab and waited for Dr. Connors. The doctor rode the elevator up alone and explained that the cooling system was shut down and the core would ignite within the hour.
Upon hearing that, Zeus went to the large above ground fuel tank. The one used to power the farms equipment and to heat the barn and the farmhouse. Pulling the hose into the barn, he sent the elevator back down. Once it was at the bottom, Zeus opened the nozzle of the hose completely and let several hundred gallons of fuel run to the bottom of the shaft and into the lab. As he stood looking down the shaft, Anthony stepped next to him.
“Allow me,” he said.
Taking his two swords, he scraped them back and forth on the elevator cable hanging in the middle of the shaft. As he did so, giant sparks flew from the cable and dropped into the black expanse below. As they watched, the sparks grew into flames and the lab was quickly engulfed.
“I believe that will do the trick,” Dr. Connors said as he watched the flames flickering in the elevator shaft.
Anthony went to hotwire a second vehicle while Pierre helped Franzee and Helga gather what few personal belongings they had from their rooms above the barn. As they this was going on, Zeus gathered up all the bodies strewn around the courtyard and in and around the barn and dropped them into the shaft as well. By that time everyone was packed into the two vehicles and pulling away, the barn itself was on fire and would soon collapse in on the lab below.
Once in the village, Pierre and the two sisters joined the gypsy troop as they were preparing to pull out. Pierre hugged both Jaida and the shifted Zeus before saying his goodbyes. Both Jaida and Zeus knew that Grace would never accept this. Last time she had brought an army, what would she do this time?