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The Path
[Image: 45D82B85-3562-4DF7-985C-54BDB0B5ACCE_zpstym1xvwu.jpg]
Dr. Roswell Jenkins

Roswell studied the creature curiously. Its bonds were more than double what was needed. But he had always been careful. They all were. They had to be. Had to have been, he amended to himself.

Time was such an odd thing. But finally, they were on the cusp. The last 100 years had seen an explosion of knowledge and technology. He could look back on the records of experiments over the centuries- the inter-species breeding programs; exposure to various chemicals and gases; training and conditioning. Lamarckism as an idea had ruled for centuries and produced little in the way of progress.

Now, though, they had access to the code, to the chemical algorithms of life. Genome mapping capabilities had finally given them access to the source of life and they were on their way.

Already, the Dreyken in front of him had given them much, though, not of its own free will, of course. Their long-lived coding DNA had been prised apart and studied and the relevant genes tentatively identified. Already, their incorporation into mice and rabbits had revealed they were on the right track. Telomere degradation was a quarter of what was normal, effectively multiplying their lifespan by four.

Integration into primates had already begun. And while the indications were that they too would be affected in a similar way, something curious was going on. They had become aggressive. Brutal. Some even displayed tendencies toward the causing of pain, of enjoying the suffering. They had only inserted a small section of the Dreyken's DNA and yet there was a definite personality shift.

In and of itself, that was not necessarily a bad thing. Not yet anyway. But they needed control. A colleague had done something similar with rakshasas and the results were nothing short of astounding. Fully compliant creatures at their control. Pets...if they could be called that. Very useful indeed.

Could the same be done with Dreyken? That was the question. Its head was bound, parts of its skull removed and various electrodes inserted. The process had been painless, if uncomfortable. Not that he was averse to letting the thing suffer a bit. Dreyken were known for their cruelty, after all.

He looked at it after making some adjustments to the current. "You will tell me your name."
The command itself was meaningless. He didn't need to know names. This was a test of compliance. Dreyken lived together, their public personas manufactured. It was a curious thing. Unlike Rougarous or Chupacabras, Dreyken were social and even maintained their own culture, from what they had gathered. Breaking them was hard. It was a good measure of the effectiveness of his procedures.

The Dreyken's eyes glittered with hate and despite the perspiration that beaded its forehead, it appeared calm and in control. It bared a cold smile at him. If Roswell had not done this many times before, he would have been nervous. As it was, he ignored it.

"You will know pain,", it whispered. "I shall enjoy you for a long time. You will beg for death. You will plead for it. But it will not come."

He sighed and made the adjustments. Still more work to be done. His wallet chimed and he pulled it out. In moments, he had the video playing, Nicholas Trano's address. There, in the background sat Holden. From the angle it looked as if he had been preening, enjoying his position. It irritated Roswell. The man irritated him.

He twisted the hourglass embossed ring on his finger as he watched. The man was Di Inferi, supposedly dedicated to the same goals as him. A quest embarked upon long ago when they broke away from the benighted Atharim and their foolishness. Memento Mori. The reminder that all men die. Times did too. And purposes. But they didn't have to. Not if they succeeded.

But Holden....he was unpredictable. His own power was equally important. The man wanted to be president. That much was plain. But once there, what would he do? He knew far too much about them. If his goals and Di Inferi's shifted away from each other...Well, it was telling that the very idea bothered him.

Di Inferi had always ruled from behind. They shared that much with their elder siblings the Atharim. Better to be the power and influence behind the throne, with the leverage and strings, publicly beholden to no one. They had the freedom to be on all sides and none.

The greatest danger, though, was what Holden suffered from. Personal ambition. That would become the goal instead of their goals.

Indeed, when Evelyn Avalon took the stage the look on Holden's face said it all and Roswell smiled maliciously. It blanked in moments, but it was there. No. Holden did not need to be president. Trano would be a good choice, though. They had strings tied to him, people and companies that he was connected to.

The best tool was one who thought he was free. Not one who saw the strings and knew the players.

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