“Dionysius, we have chosen your target,” Dr. Tobias said, sounding eager.
“I’m ready,” Dionysius replied.
“The Director of the Cormiann Lab. Dr. Nicholas Collins. He fired both Dr. Russell and I when— Ah, well. What do you really care? You will find him in his office.”
“I will go immediately.”
“That really isn’t for you to say. Glimmer, Dionysius.”
Schuyler heard one set of footsteps fade away.
He knew Dr. Collins. He had worked at the Cormiann Lab nine years ago before he transferred to Lisia Lab. That was when he met Lena, at Lisia Lab. Strange. He felt nothing at the thought of his wife. Absolutely nothing.
By the time Dionysius returned, Owen, Erika, and Schuyler were already sitting in a box of a room with Dr. Tobias. Dr. Russell was in the lab at her computer, tapping away at the keys.
“Done,” Dionysius reported flatly. Then he sat between Erika and the wall.
“Excellent. Owen, the next one belongs to you. I want to see how well you can perform despite the defect. Erika, I want you to assist Dr. Russell in whatever capacity she needs. She’s been wanting an assistant for some time, and now I’m finally assigning one to her. We have no need for you right now. Off you go.”
Erika stood and left the room.
Dr. Tobias turned to Schuyler. “Your turn is yet to come, Glimmer. Dionysius, Schuyler, you may return to your rooms. Owen, come with me.”
Schuyler and Dionysius left the room and returned to their quarters…
* * *
We no longer had a sense of time, I say. That was taken from us. We could have been in our quarters for minutes, hours, days. We don’t know. Time does not exist to us. And there was no longer any need for sustenance. Our days were not timed by meals, or anything else. There were no windows, so we saw no sunlight. There was no time.
What happened to Owen? two asks.
My room is closest to the lab. I can hear everything that goes on in there. For a long time, that was all I had. Dr. Russell and Erika had found the perfect target. The Secretary of State’s nephew. Dr. Russell had gone to school with him and hated him…
* * *
“Well, Owen, the job’s yours,” Dr. Tobias said. “Glimmer, Owen.”
“Thank you, Erika. Return to your room,” Dr. Russell said dismissively.
Schuyler heard footsteps pass by his quarters, a door open, and a door close. He heard the scientists moving around the lab and speaking too quietly for him to hear. It was a long time before he could hear any distinguishable words.
“Eleanna,” Dr. Tobias called out.
“What is it, Curt?”
“How long ago did Owen depart?”
There was silence for a few moments. Then Dr. Russell answered, “Maybe six hours ago? I don’t know the exact time, but he should have been back by now.”
“Something must have happened to him,” Dr. Tobias said grimly.
Then there was the sudden shout of, “Owen!” It was quickly followed by a crash.
“Curt, he’s dead,” Dr. Russell said incredulously.
“Dead! How can that have happened?”
“I don’t know, Curt. It must have been that defect. We’ll have to find a replacement, if you want.”
“Of course we’ll get a replacement,” Dr. Tobias snapped. “We might even get another Glimmer.”
Schuyler could hear the doctors moving something heavy and assumed it to be Owen. It was some time later before he heard Dr. Russell speak again.
“I’ve found someone, Curt. Her name’s Jen. Jenia Glower. I’ve got her address. Here you go. I’ll prepare everything.”
Schuyler heard Dr. Tobias leave. Dr. Russell moved around, moving objects around the room while muttering to herself.
Then he heard Dr. Tobias.
“I’ve got her, Eleanna. Everything ready?”
“Yes, Curt. Just put her on that table.” She paused. “Do you suppose one of the assassins would like to see how they were created?”
“What gave you that idea?” Dr. Tobias asked sharply.
“Oh, well, I just thought that if they saw what was done, they would understand.”
“They’re machines, robots, Dr. Russell,” he said impatiently.
“They’re still part human,” she argued.
“Not much human is left of them,” her partner said condescendingly. “Look, Eleanna, I understand and trust you. I’m trying my hardest to be patient with you right now. But it’s not easy. You have some of the most ridiculous ideas sometimes. Why I put up with that, I don’t know. Now, why do you want one of them to watch?”
“I’ve been thinking, Curt.” Schuyler heard footsteps, probably pacing. “What if there’s a way to undo what we’ve done?”
“Not possible, Eleanna,” Dr. Tobias said impatiently.
“We don’t know that, Curt,” she replied reasonably. “Let’s just say it’s possible. We can put some kind of program into them to make sure they will never fully regain humanness. We can bring one of the assassins in to watch and if what we’ve done is undone and the new program is left intact, the assassin can create others.”
“But why would we want that to happen?” he asked in an almost angry voice.
“Curt, remember when we were children? We agreed to bring about the destruction of Earth. The assassins are our tools now. They will bring it about.”
There was silence for a moment.
“Bring in Schuyler,” Dr. Tobias said curtly.
“Yes, Dr. Tobias,” Dr. Russell said submissively, yet there was a pleased undertone in her voice.
Schuyler heard footsteps and the opening of his door. He turned from the wall he had been staring at and Dr. Russell beckoned to him. He followed her into the lab.
A young woman in her mid-twenties lay on one of the tables. Her eyes were closed and she lay as still as a corpse. Her golden brown hair was fanned out around her slender face and looked to fall just below her shoulders when she was standing. Her features were elfin-like and her skin pale.
“This is Jen Glower, Schuyler,” Dr. Russell said as Dr. Tobias set up his tools and devices in his own particular order. “She will be like you and the others.”
Schuyler nodded, almost disinterested…