I awoke in darkness and the muffled sound of machinery. No physical sensations but warmth and weightlessness. The sound of metal scraping against glass sent shivers down my spine.
"Test Subject A: Human/Demon Hybrid. Nonviable. Remove for dissection."
That was Jeremiah's voice.
"Test Subject B: Human/Demon Hybrid. Nonviable. Remove for dissection."
I struggled, but could find nothing to grab onto. I could barely move my limbs.
"Test Subject C: Demon Control. Viable, but no demonic traits evident in fetal stage. Continue observation."
Then the sound of scraping metal was deafening as red light flooded my vision. Once I was able to focus, I was horrified to see Jeremiah's begoggled face staring back at me through the distortion of glass. This had to be a projection...he seemed a giant to me!
"Test Subject D: Human Control. Physical attributes normal. Brainwave activity elevated. Remove for..."
"Doctor Mason? Should we not keep the human for further experiments?"
Jermiah's face turned and he stepped out of my direct line of sight. I could make out the setup of the laboratory through the glass.
"Are you questioning my judgement, Mendelson?"
"No Sir...it's just that I have pledged to serve you...and your clone, for all intents and purposes, is you..."
"Mendelson, I appreciate your loyalty as always. But with three adult clones now on standby I fail to see why..."
A buzzing sound interrupted the discussion.
"Jeremiah? The Dogsbodys and Dr. Obolensky have arrived. I've offered them tea, but more guests will be arriving soon..."
I heard that ever-present growl in his tone as he raised his voice to shout at my mother.
"Rachel! How many times have I told you not to interrupt me in the laboratory except in an emergency! I'll be up in a moment!" He took a deep breath. "That woman needs a hobby..."
"Like a child to raise, Doctor?"
He returned to peer cloely at me. I could see the bones and blood vessels in my still-forming limbs.
"Yes, Mendelson...another good idea. We must keep up appearances, musn't we? By the time I'm eighty, dyeing my hair grey will simply not be enough. That vampire in the family tree learned that the hard way...yes...and I can devise a method to integrate the control subjects. If I can't bind the Bloodwing to my will, I can still breed my own! You will raise the demon, Mendelson. And Rachel shall care for my 'son'. Now, what to name them...the demon...my future Emperor...I shall call him Marcus, after Marcus Aurelius. Now this one here...D. Mason...David? No...she'll give him a Hebrew name herself I'm sure..."
"Perhaps Darien, sir?"
"Hmmm...Darien..." He laughed. "The marble columns for the mansion come from a town by that name in New England! Yes! A delightful metaphor for a Foundation..."
"It's also a Greek word for gift, Doctor..."
"Indeed it is, Mendelson. Your suggestions always make life more interesting."
[Is this why you brought me here, Marcus, to the one time we were closest to each other? You want to absorb me into you? You won't be Marcus anymore...and I won't be Darien. The only winner would be our Father.]
[I did not bring you here! I've been trying to break the psychic link, but I can't!]
I felt his panic match my own.
[Marcus! Listen to me carefully! Ash is still out there...we have to contact him!]