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“So this is where you do your dirty work.”
The female in a white lab coat, one of three women and four men in the highly secure, top secret research facility beneath New York City’s Chinatown, didn’t raise her head or glance at the speaker in acknowledgement. She simply kept looking into the microscope and adjusted a knob on the side.
“Rare of you to put in an appearance,” she murmured, keeping her eyes focused on the task at hand. “Was there something in particular you wanted?”
The beautiful Creature that had sauntered into the labs like it owned them made a show of looking around, its hypnotic dark eyes missing nothing in its leisurely perusal of all the equipment and staff.
She knew what it saw: objects. Nothing but animate and inanimate objects. The same way it saw itself.
It took one soul-less being to recognize another.
The female glanced up briefly from her work to take in the Creature’s perfect flawed beauty. Neither male, nor female, but an indefinable combination of both sexes, its features mesmerizing in their uniqueness, hypnotic in the indelible impression they left upon their beholder.
Attractive, in the rawest, most primitive ways. It made anyone and everyone who looked upon it seethe with avaricious, uncontrollable lust.
It caught her gaze and quirked a corner of its sensuous lips, as if to say, I know you want to fuck me. I know you want to own me. But even if you turn me inside out, take hold of every molecule, you’ll never really have me. Because I’m merely an illusion. Beneath this irresistible package lies nothing at all.
“I’m bored,” it finally replied in its hauntingly melodious voice, husky deep yet layered with a feminine lilt. “My pet zombie refuses to play.”
“Stop toying with him,” she said, her tone conveying that she didn’t really expect it to heed her suggestion.
“Just because his soul is arrested and we’ve trapped it within his body doesn’t mean you should feel free to provoke him. You risk either awaking his frozen soul so that we’re back where we started, or making it depart his body altogether. Then, we would have no leverage against the Destroyer.”
The Creature wandered idly along the periphery of the lab, touching equipment and lab technicians as it went along. When it squeezed one of the other female researcher’s breast, the woman simply continued about her work as if it wasn’t even there.
“Why do we need him anyway?” the Creature asked rather mulishly, betraying the slightest hint of real emotion. “Why is he the only trigger for the Destroyer?”
“It’s chemical,” the female replied readily. “I wasn’t completely certain he was the one until we got them together. After they…bonded, both their genetic material changed. Even the sample we took from her before the event mutated. No one else could have triggered the Pure Queen’s Awakening.”
She slanted the Creature a piercing look.
“You should know. You tried your subversive best.”
“Not really,” it said languidly, its face once again erased of any feeling. “I never tried at all. Can’t stomach the thought of tying myself forever to the thing that could eradicate civilizations.”
It gave a delicate shudder.
“Most likely I’d accidentally press the self-destruct button and end the world prematurely.”
She smirked humorlessly.
“Just as well. No matter how you try, beautiful creature, you’ll never be the one to move her.”
It paused infinitesimally, its elegant, long-fingered hand hovering above a rack of test tubes, before gently falling to its side again.
Abruptly, it changed the conversational course.
“Do you like working with these zombies? It seems awfully boring to toil away night after night like this in wretched, interminable silence. Can you at least teach them to tell a few bawdy jokes to liven things up?”
She shrugged and moved to one of the multiple ongoing tests she was running in parallel.
“They are extensions of my consciousness, and together, we can accomplish within days what would take me weeks to complete alone.”
It nodded as comprehension dawned. “No bawdy jokes then, since you obviously have no sense of humor.”
Then, it slid a sly look at her through its enviously long lashes.
“So, when I squeezed that tit just then, did you also feel it?” it inquired with mild curiosity.
She regarded the Creature fully, looking into its fathomless dark eyes, blood-red at their centers.
For long moments, she simply held its beautiful, ugly eyes. Beautiful in their color, shape and embroidery, framed with those thick, sinful sweeps of feathery lashes. Ugly in what lay within. If there was a gateway to hell, she thought she might be looking into it.
“You remind me of a neglected child who would do anything to elicit attention,” she murmured almost pityingly, if she had any pity left to give that was.
It visibly jerked at her words, as if she’d caused it tremendous pain. She filed that away for future reference.
“What is it you want?” she asked again. She had work to do, and it was distracting her from making progress.
“I came to see your new specimen,” it finally replied, as if suddenly eager to depart from her presence. “Where are you keeping him?”
It stilled and listened carefully. She paused in her work as well.
A distant echo of animal growls and human crying reached their ears through the cloying silence of the labs, disturbed only by the hum and whirring of the central AC and heavy duty DNA sequencers.
She turned back to her experiment and gave a loose shrug.
“I didn’t bring him in,” she said, looking again into the microscope. “Agent Kyles took care of him.”
“Was that part of the plan?” the Creature asked from behind her, its voice doubting.
“Plans change. Agent Kyles knows what to do.”
“You sound rather sure of a mindless zombie.”
“Soul-less,” she corrected, “not mindless. Ariel Kyles is a human shell programmed to do what I tell her to. She will bring him in when the time is right.”