31. Cult Of Personality

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Dervinias walked determinedly down Michael’s street. When he reached the bus stop, he sat next to a nervous old woman. He gave her a smile. “Lovely weather, isn’t it?”

“Oh, my dear, it sure is.”

He turned away, done with niceties. He had a lot to think about. The Humieri Project hadn’t been moving along as planned. Still, as a scientist, he continued his work—testing and reevaluating. Patience was the key in any scientific experiment. And he had time. An eternity. 

His next live test would be to inject a female human with eggs fertilized by a combination of kelarian and human DNA. He’d already tried mating with human females. Though he didn’t mind the physical experience, the copulation proved lethal. Several had died during the process. One had become pregnant; at least he’d thought so, until a paternity test proved the child belonged to another human.

Over the last several months he’d made some headway. He knew he was close. And when he succeeded, he’d be a God. The author of a new race. Creator over a species that respected the gift of immortality. Humieri’s would be his masterpiece. Like an artist, he used humans as his canvas and the DNA of kelarians as his brushes.

Kelarians and their obedient worship of Ith and Aetha disgusted him and his followers. The blinded kels were like bees in a hive—working, mating, existing without question.

Immortality wasn’t to be given freely. Yet the unthinking kels received the ultimate endowment—and for what? Some were Discoverers, sure. Others were given the right to be Formytians. But immortality should only be awarded to leaders, those who’d proved themselves worthy of eternity.

Creating a new race would be the perfect solution, Earth and its similarities to Kelari, the perfect worldly candidate.

A kelarian/human hybrid—able to heal more quickly and live longer, as kels did, yet inhabited with the humanity the humans possessed. He’d chosen the girl—the vessel—the one who’d be the mother to his new race. Cheverly.

The theory would be tested on her.

And then there was Michael’s mother. Whoa! She’d been a total surprise. He’d intended to kill her as a means of separating Venus and Michael. During the process, he’d discovered the woman had many, many secrets. Through her, he was able to see just how far reaching The Order’s tentacles went. Images of the crusty old Thomas Jefferson and his interest in Native Americans . . . There’d also been something to do with an illegitimate child . . . But the more juicy tidbits were blocked away from him. It’d been frustrating that, even with torture, he couldn’t break her. The skill had to be taught. He knew of one other kelvieri, before Zaren, who knew a human’s mind could be read and probed. 

He had a feeling Catherine knew more about his planet and kelarians than any human he’d ever met. In fact, Dervinias had a feeling she knew more about him than most.

Her death left him with more questions than answers. Two pieces of information he was able to extract:  The man Michael knew as his father was also the leader of A.L.T. and, on top of that, he wasn’t even his real father. Who his father was . . . he’d been unable to ascertain.

It seemed likely, though, that his hypothesis had already been tested and proven. What exactly was Michael?

He looked forward to finding out the truth.

It occurred to him that the Gods had specifically chosen Michael as the boy Venus had to help find love. They never commanded anything without a reason.

Yet, before Zaren contacted their Gods, Dervinias was sure no one outside his group knew The Order planned to kill Venus. But the Gods had taken the development—that Venus had been sent to Earth—and used it to their advantage. Or had they somehow instigated it? Were they behind the supposed screw-up? Why should they care about the boy?

It freaked him out to realize they might even know about The Order, and were using The Orders’ plans to perpetuate their own. That perhaps the Gods wanted her to succeed.

From the beginning he’d thought the idea of her helping a human find love preposterous. It was hardly a consequence at all. Real consequences for what she’d been accused of would’ve meant disowning her as a member of kelarian royalty, condemning her to spend eternity in Helker, or death.

Venus had to die! His life depended on it. As did his work.

The Order had determined she die because of a prophecy they’d uncovered years ago. It specified that a female warrior would destroy all who rebelled against the Gods, and restore peace to Kelari.

After his father spoke with The Ancient Witch, she revealed Venus as that warrior. And since his father believed he should be the only ruler of Kelari, he’d ordered Venus’ death. He’d sent his secret assassins, the Volshayers, out several times over the past sixteen years to kill her.  They’d never succeeded.

It’d been thought they’d accomplished the task once, when Venus was seven, but the child had been the princess’s playmate.

In truth, he didn’t care one way or the other about the girl. She seemed like a valiant, cool kel. But killing Venus would allow him to continue his research without the interference of his father.

His cell rang.

Letting out a freezing breath, he pulled the phone from his front pants pocket and flipped it open. “This better be important.” He stood and sauntered away from the prying eyes and curious ears of the woman.  

“Where the heck are you?”

“Calm down, Chev. I’m on my way back. No worries.”

“Hurry. Michael and the others are asking questions.” She hung up.

Dervinias closed the phone and placed it back in his pocket. The moon overhead twinkled, and though it wasn’t fully dark, with his immortal eyes, he could see millions of stars. Inhaling he searched for Kelari, knowing he wouldn’t find it. Still, he could see other colonized planets. Like Mars.

Humans believed the red planet was uninhabitable. If they only knew. The creatures were very exceptional at the art of deception. Other species only saw what Rhlanges wanted them to see. A whole world of intelligent beings existed if one knew how to see them. They’d even visited Earth. At one time, thousands of years ago, they’d wanted to assert the planet as their own. But the humans reminded them too much of cockroaches—annoying and hard to get rid of. So they decided against claiming the blue planet.

“Ah, well,” he sighed, glancing over at the heavy-set woman. Then he turned toward the street, where several black cars whipped by. A.L.T. had arrived. Right on time.   

A large bus rumbled down the street and screeched to a stop. The lady hefted herself up, and onto the steps. She paused and looked back.

He smiled, frightening.

She dashed out of sight. 

The bus driver yelled out, “You comin’ kid?”

“I’ll catch the next one.”

The doors closed. Dervinias watched the bus pull away.

With his hands in his pockets, he strolled down the street. Michael distracted him—amused him—the idea that he could be a new species.

In a few hours the kid would come home and find his mother. He wanted to know what Frank would say to his son. He hoped Michael would put the wrong one and one together and conclude Venus had killed his mother. If Michael killed Venus, well that would be poetic.

Checking his watch, the hands verified what Chev had called about . . . he’d been away from The Hartford Ranch, Venus, Zaren and Michael, for too long. He’d have to make excuses, which he detested.

Thinking of the place he left his horse, he used Britorent to return. As he rode to the halfway point one thought raced through his mind.

Michael, what are you really?

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