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say it, even in jest. A week after Carlson first coined "Hell Eyes." he was
found dead in his bunk of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Over the subsequent year and a half, four more mysterious deaths followed. As
O'Brien pointed out, they were duly recorded and reported.
By the time of the last death, Alpha had reached the physical-development
stage of sixteen years old. He was already edging six feet tall. Perfectly
pro-portioned, with the flat-muscled body of a young Hercules, he wore his
hair close to the scalp, like an ebony skullcap. His features were beautiful,
yet at the same time, undeniably masculine. Only his crim-son eyes detracted
from his beauty. They made him a freak.
It was during this stage that Alpha passed through puberty, but he didn't
suffer.
Connaught O'Brien said, "At this time, another aspect of Phase Three began to
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assert itself. The gene-introduced life-force that determined his be-havior
and vitality came to the fore. The visceral desire to procreate. Obviously,
with the loss of Epsilon, Alpha began to look elsewhere for a mate."
The woman paused, and a slightly abashed smile tugged at the comers of her
mouth. "He showed no interest in the other female staff members, though they
are younger than myself. He chose me."
O'Brien shrugged. "Yes, of course I realize he stimulated my very basic sexual
urges. On another level, how can a mere mortal refuse a god? For the past
three months we've been engaging in coitus regularly oh, why be coy about it?
We've been fucking. I doubt Alpha understands the concept of love. He
understands only the instinct to spread his seed."
She sighed sadly. "Unfortunately, I cannot help him fulfill that instinctive
desire.
I'm barren I al-ways have been. I'm sure the increased levels of radiation
leaking in through the shielding have ren-dered the other women here sterile,
as well."
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Taking a deep, determined breath, O'Brien con-tinued. "And that is our present
situation. Even though Alpha is immune to the toxins and radiation outside the
installation, he will not find the mate he seeks out there, at least not for a
very long time. Eighty-odd years, I estimate."
A cold, triumphant smile played over her face. "I received your transmission
to abort the mission. I will not obey it. I will not accept that all my work
is for nothing and that Mission Invictus, with its hopes for a sane world, is
forever aborted, as well."
A flinty hardness came into her green eyes. "Mis-sion Invictus was conceived
by you as the penulti-mate plan to produce a superior human. I admit that I
failed you on that point. I produced a god, an entity whose mutated antibodies
and immune system will not succumb to the poisonous postwar environment.
Whether you impotent bastards care to acknowledge it, Overproject Excalibur
has been the instrument of fate in this epochal hour of humanity's bloody
his-tory."
O'Brien smiled mirthlessly as she declared, "Within seconds of transmitting
this recording to you, I will deactivate the gateway. There will be no way in
or out of this installation, except overland. Then, Alpha has agreed to be
placed in stasis, but not in a cryonics canister."
"He will continue to grow, his development will proceed, but at a vastly
reduced rate. He will slow his metabolism to a crawl, his need for oxygen
cur-tailed to what exists within his& sarcophagus. His heart might pump once a
month. When he is ready, he will revive on his own."
"After that, my staff and I will take a long walk outside, our first in many
years.
With no way to receive food and other provisions, staying here sim-ply delays
the inevitable. Alpha will need what re-mains in the stores when he awakens.
Besides, I'm curious to tour this brave new world your machi-nations have
created. Yes, Alpha altered the person-nel's perceptions so they will
faithfully follow me. Cold-
blooded to an extent, I cannot deny. However, considering my audience, that is
the novice speaking to the masters of the art."
O'Brien's eyes suddenly glimmered with tears. Her lips worked, then twisted
into a contemptuous smile. "If any of you are still alive when Alpha emerges
from
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Axler,_James_-_Deathlands_40_-_Nightmare_Passage this& tomb, know that you will
be instantly rendered obsolete. All of your plans, schemes and grand dreams to
control mankind under one whip will come to nothing. You will inherit the slag
heap. Alpha will ascend to the throne of eternity and spit upon you."
Her face smoothed itself into a clinical, imper-sonal mask again. "Dr.
Connaught
O'Brien, final report."
WHEN THE HAND FELL upon her shoulder, it required all of Mildred's self-
control to keep from screaming. As it was, she twisted in her chair, pushing
it away from the desk on squeaking casters, whipping her elbow backward.
J.B. grunted in pained surprise, half doubling over. "Dark night, Millie!" [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]