The sound of electrons rearranging on the surface of the molecular analyzer grated on Aldric’s nerves. The hiss-chirp hiss-chirp cadence generated by the device was new, or at least it was new to him. He never noticed it before, but he was distracted before. Everything was clearer now, so it only made sense that he would notice sounds that were obviously masked before. Ignoring the sound was difficult, but it did not keep him from understanding the information.
The complex patterns taking shape on the analyzer was unlike anything he had seen before in organic matter. The DNA, or what passed for DNA in the remains of the tentacles that came pouring through the dimensional gate, mimicked the wave pattern of the energy that came from opening the gate in the first place. Was the creature’s DNA change when it went through the gate, or was the gate somehow connected to the creatures? Hard to answer that question without going through the gate himself, and he was not crazy enough to try going through the gate. Not yet anyway.
He filed away the results of the scan and manipulated the robotic arms inside the containment cell to pack and store sample A7342B. It took him longer than he liked. The fine motor work strained him where a month before he could do it in his sleep. It seemed that his new gifts came with a price and not smashing his fists into the console and screaming at the top of his lungs felt like the correct action to take even if it would resolve nothing. Probably because it would resolve nothing was exactly why it felt right.
Aldric lived his entire life playing loose with the rules except when it came to himself. He had his own set of rules.
Don’t be sloppy.
He blinked twice and looked at his hands. The white-knuckle grip on the joysticks hurt his hands, or his mind told him it should, but it did not for some reason. He looked back to the sample and saw it was stored neatly in its slot. Aldric slowly opened his hands, let out a long slow breath, and smiled.
“I still got it. Nothing is going to change who I am,” he said defiantly.
Of course not. Why would it. You’re still you. We’re just here to help. You’re in charge here. Killing the competition is normal. Everyone wants to knock you down. Don’t let them. They never understood you. If you were in charge of everything it wouldn’t matter what they wanted from you. Killing them all means never having to say you’re sorry. Soon. Soon. Soon.
“Yeah. Soon. I need to focus. Let Isaac deal with killing that little shit, Evan. He could take care of Margaret too. She might be harder to deal with, but Isaac was crafty and if I let him take the gloves off I’m sure he could do it.” Aldric laughed and slapped his hands together in a single clap.
Turning away from the containment unit, Aldric looked at the list of samples that still needed to be dissected and analyzed. It was short. Too short. Margaret and Evan were taking up too much of his time. Two days had passed since Evan and his little band of rebels broke into the warehouse, and Aldric had not opened a portal since. Spending his time worrying about them and what they were up to kept him from his true purpose.
The sudden urge to dissect a tentacle and returned his focus to what was important. The great project was what mattered. He would sick Isaac on the pests that were tormenting him, all of them. The man had his incompetencies but killing was not one of them.
With that decision made, he could focus his efforts on the project and kill everyone not left standing in Isaac’s wake. The generals, the government, all of them would fall as he took his place amongst the Gods.
Aldric turned away from the readings and smiled. Time to leave this part of the lab. He needed to check on the progress of the construction project. That little raid by Evan and the other revolutionaries created more of a delay than it should have. Analysis of what they took indicated random, dumb luck more than any sort of organized attempt to slow down the project. Most of it was food and medical supplies. There were a couple of weapons too, but the electronic components were the problem. That the warehouse held the only case of ray-shielded void circuits was an oversight that cost a dozen people their jobs.
That they got off that lightly was Isaac’s more moderating influence. Aldric demanded their heads, and he meant it literally, but Isaac interpreted it as terminating their employment. Lucky for the incompetents that Aldric was too busy to deal with it himself. It would not matter for much longer, but he supposed it was for the best. Too many dead bodies piling up around the office would garner some unwanted attention.
A couple of taps on the data slate he picked up from the desk as he walked by and the smiling face of April, his latest secretary, popped up on the screen. “Good evening, Mr. Dewitt. How can I help you?”
“Send a car around to the lab. I don’t feel like driving home tonight.” Aldric did his best to smile back at the woman, but the way she hard blinked at him said he failed about as badly as he thought.
“Will do, sir.” She looked down at a data pad, flicked a finger across the surface, and looked back up. “Your car will be at airlock four in five minutes.”
Aldric severed the connection and folded up the slate. “Five minutes. Why does everything take so long?”
The universe is out to get you.
Better destroy it before it wins.
The airlock light flicked from red to green and Aldric angrily stabbed the button with his finger. He grated his teeth as the airlock slid open with its usual deliberate slowness. He stepped through the opening and drummed his fingers on the hovercar’s plush leather seat as he waited for the door to close.
“Yeah. Maybe I should.”
* * *
The manic quality of Aldric’s voice was not lost on Isaac as he listened over the intercom. Perhaps Aldric forgot he was standing by. Perhaps he did not care. Either way, Isaac considered it an order to eliminate the two former lab rats with whatever means he needed. The ranting of his boss aside, it made his job a lot easier.
He left the intercom on in the background, in case Aldric said something useful, and turned toward the monitor behind him. A list of potential hideouts for the renegades that Evan was working with rolled up his screen. His agents were thorough, but few of them had any real-world experience. They were little more than beat cops with a penchant for sadism. Some of the locations were inspired in their consideration, but most were too mundane for serious consideration, and a few more were too pedantic. Once he eliminated those from the list it left about a dozen worth serious consideration. He circled the ones he favored as likely and marked the others for immediate investigation by his men. If they stumbled into something it would be no great loss, and they were far easier to replace than the drones he would send to the most probable location.
It would take a day or two to check all of them, but when they were done he would end the nuisance that was Evan Murray once and for all. With him out of the way he could turn his attention to Margaret Vo, the real threat to DarkSide.
Isaac did not understand Aldric’s obsession Murray. Vo on the other hand was a verifiable threat that he spent plenty of time swearing about, but he never made a move to do anything about her. Isaac figured her arrival at the office would spur his boss into doing something, but all he did was kill a pair of security guards and spend the evening tearing apart his office. She was certainly attractive, but she was not even close to the top five that Aldric bedded since Isaac started working for him. Granted, since the accident something had changed in her and made her more attractive. It was not that her appearance changed so much as she carried herself differently. She was not Aldric’s pet scientist anymore. The confidence that poured out from her magnified her presence and there was something…sexy about it.
One more look over the list once more. Maybe going after Evan was the wrong play. He was a nuisance, but he was not the real threat. Going after him was what Aldric wanted, not the right move. The corner of his mouth lifted as a plan started to form in his mind.
Four-thirty. There was still time to set things in motion and grab dinner. He reached into a deep pocket in his coat and pulled out a phone that he never used before. There was one number in it, and it was to an old friend that owed him a favor. It was time to call it in, and by the time he woke up tomorrow his world would be considerably easier.