Chapter 18: Advice From the Shadows

In a secret chamber known only to three individuals, the Primary Investigator nervously initiated a call he had hoped never to make. “Hello? I think it is happening… The thing you warned us of. Somebody’s tampered with our experiment.”

The response came quickly as a whisper barely discerned through the hiss of static,”We told you. He has perverted your efforts. You must draw him out if you can, or he will keep you from creating the army you need. If you are not careful, he will saddle you with a useless copy of those worthless Founders!”

“But, the Founders are the only reason we have a civilization to save! Without them, we would never have risen above the iron age.”

“Yes, and where are they now? They elevated you just enough for you to be an interesting target, then left once they knew there was danger coming! Think of how useless another intelligent group of cowards would be! Your sheeplike people would surely follow them into oblivion! Only you had the vision and courage to heed our message. Haven’t we helped you? You have increased the rate of conversion and development in the aggressives to an astounding level. You have the implant technology to make them obey you while preserving their rage. If it were not for us, you would still be roaming around looking for societies who could become your useless new ersatz ‘Founders’. Now, do as I say and save your people from the success of their own folly!

“How many specimens have they contaminated?”

“I can confirm one, but it looks like two of the original subjects have become infected through secondary exposure.”

“Are you saying the one is not one of your specimens?”

“Yes, he came in for a job interview. We discovered that he had been exposed already. We decided to include him as a control.”

“WHAT?!?!? Are you INSANE or STUPID?! You did not think to suspect such an obvious fake? You must capture it now and dispose of it before the plan is ruined!!! He has fooled you into contaminating this whole batch and maybe the entire project!”

“I am already working on plan B. I have a lab where the hybrids are developing quickly. I will lead them when the deployment happens and they will be the generals of our army.”

“Just make sure you remember your place! You live at the mercy of the Fraternity. If they succeed, you will be our enemies and lead by the weak whelps of your own failed idealism. If the new ‘Founders’ come about, we will crush you and leave your rotting corpses as a warning to others.”

“Yes master. I am your humble servant. I will not allow any to oppose you!” He could tell that his distant master had disconnected then because even the static cut out. The supreme ruler of the researchers gave an involuntary shiver as he contemplated what his real masters would do if he failed. The only greater fear in his life was the fear that his own people might one day realize that he had made a deal with the very thing the Founders had fled from so long ago.

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