chapter twenty-eight: Daily

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Couldn't we have just one damn moment of victory and rest before the universe threw yet another alien monster at our faces! I was tired, sweaty, covered in my own blood, and I just wanted a shower and some Cheetos, for shits sake. But of course, Space Hitler came striding down the hall, sporting that tailored suit like a model on a runway, before we could even catch a breath. He had a smirk on his face that made me want to punch him. But when didn't I want to punch him, honestly?

He slow clapped as he approached Monster Dart's body. He stared down at the abomination, studying its gross, purple, sinewy body. He nudged it with his foot, putting his hands in his pockets and shrugging. A moment later he gestured with one hand and several of his minions appeared at the top of the stairs, swarming on the body and lifting it to position it into a silver body bag.

"What are you doing?" Sparrow snapped.

"I'd like to know what made him this way. I knew he was working on several genetic projects, but I never imagined it would result in anything like this," Strike cocked his head, looking into Dart's cold, gray eyes.

Well hell. I wasn't Sherlock or anything, but I could put two and two together.

"What? Knew he was working on genetic projects?" Sparrow echoed as the realization flashed across his face, "You were working with him."

Strike looked up at his son and grinned.

"You knew exactly where Wild was," Sparrow gasped, "This whole time!"

Strike held his arms out in mock surrender - like a dick - and said, "Guilty."

Sparrow's eyes narrowed, "Why?"

"If I control Wilhelmina," Strike said, his eyes twinkling, "I control you."

Wild's little orbs-of-death hovered next to her, spinning more rapidly with each word that escaped Strike's lips. The look in her eyes told me she was calculating how quick she'd have to be to send those little marbles straight through Strike's brain.

He shot her a quick look. "Try it. I'd love to see what happens," he dared her.

She set her jaw and held out her hand below the orbs, letting them fall from the air and into her palm. She was retreating - for now. But she was going to scramble his shit for real soon. And I couldn't wait to watch her do it. Hell, I'd be cheering her on with a song and dance I'd be so excited.

"Dart was an interesting character. His intellect was quite impressive for a human, and I can't wait to examine the compounds he managed to make to keep Wilhelmina alive all this time and to make himself into... well, you saw," he grinned. "And, though I hate to admit it," his smile fell, "As I said before, I grew curious to see how things would go without my interference. And now I've seen."

"Now you've seen," Wild growled.

"And I'm not entirely disappointed. You're all quite intriguing. Even the human," he gestured toward me and I flipped him off, hoping he knew enough about the human language to know exactly what my gesture meant. The look on his face told me he did, but it wasn't as satisfying as a gut-punch would have been. "But it's time now. It's time for this world to become so much more. And I want my son by my side to see that happen. I want an heir to the bloodline."

"No," Sparrow snapped, "You want a pure heir to the bloodline. Where does that leave Wild? Where does that leave us?"

"Our scientists have ways of ensuring any children you have are of Noble blood," Strike said.

"And what happens when the population grows, Strike? What happens when the vita is spread to thin for your liking again? Will you just destroy this world like you destroyed Veritas? Will you just resort to mass genocide again?" Wild snapped.

"Oh dear girl," Strike laughed humorlessly, "I have plans in place for that. We have plans in place for everything. Population control, along with other things. And our vita will grow here in this atmosphere. Who knows what we can become..." He trailed off, glancing almost wistfully toward the body bag with Dart's body inside, a strange twinkle in his eye.

"What do you mean 'along with other things'?" he paused barely waiting for a reply. "And you want us to become monsters like him?" Sparrow pointed violently toward the body bag, "Is that what you want?"

"We'll have a common race, just like before, but they won't have access to vita," Strike said emotionlessly, as if he were a researcher talking about breeding rats for experiments.

"What?" Sparrow.

"Humans, Sparrow," Wild said quietly, "He's talking about leaving some of the humans, probably as slaves. Barely treated as the common people of Veritas were. Is that right, Strike?"

He ignored her: "To your other question, son, I don't want us to become monsters," his grin widened, his eyes sparkled, and he said, "I want us to become gods."

I had to fight to contain the ironic snort of laughter that tried to escape my throat. Strike might be as powerful as Zeus or whatever, but he was straight Satan. I could no less picture him reaching god-status than I could picture Morgan Freeman dancing in a burlesque show. He was too evil. I wanted to believe he was going to get what he deserved when all of this was said and done, and living on my planet as a god was not what he deserved.

I could think of several things Strike Rite deserve, four of which included various versions of tar-and-feathering and seven of which included piles of animal feces.

"You can be a god," Wild started, eyes twinkling mischievously. Strike stared at her, daring her to make a move, daring her to defy him. She simply smiled and said, "I'll be a titan."

Strike smirked, placing his hands in his pockets casually, "Surely you're aware that the gods locked the titans away so they could rule the earth from Mount Olympus."

"But they only had to lock the titans away," she said slowly and carefully, as if she were explaining the story to a small child, "Because the titans were more powerful, and the gods knew they always would be," she said, mirroring Strike's smirk, "It's only ever a matter of time before the titans rise."

Baby girl had sass, and I loved it. Clearly her words got to Strike too, because his smirk slowly fell into a dissatisfied frown. I grinned from ear to ear. Her words had threatened his perception of his own power. If he was a god trying to contain a titan, he still wasn't the most powerful, he was just hiding those with lesser power. It had to drive him crazy, her comparing him to a lesser being.

She was the titan, we were the titans, and if he tried to put us down we would rise and kick his god-chasing ass.

Just as quickly has the frown had come, though, it was replaced once again with his signature smirk. "You three are bold. I like your strength. But you are either with me, or you are against me. And if you choose to fight, I will wipe you out. I have no more time for your games, no more time to satiate my own curiosity about your roles here, the time has come for you to decide those roles. And if you can't decide," he sighed, examining the fingernails on his left hand before glancing back up to meet Sparrows eyes, "I will decide for you."

Sparrow looked back at Wild for a moment and something passed between them. I really wished I had some of their alien, jedi-mind-reading powers so I could be in on whatever they were planning, whatever they were discussing. As it stood, I only had the power to try to decipher their facial expressions, and the dangerous look on Wild's face told me whatever she was thinking had a good chance of getting us dead. But if her plans were dangerous and possibly life threatening, they were probably the only shot we had. If we couldn't defeat Strike and we weren't going to join him, we were going to die anyway.

Sparrow looked horrified, his eyes still locked to hers in silent communication, he shook his head almost imperceptibly at her. She nodded in response, her brow furrowed and defiant.

Strike sighed. "It's time to decide, children," he said, and he used his alien mojo to lift Wild about three feet off the ground. "Or I will decide for you."

His eyes sparkled with madness. And, while I hoped for the best, I prayed to all the gods and supernatural good-guys I'd ever heard of to let me have a nice, peaceful afterlife full of glitter and mojitos, and I accepted that I was going to die.

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