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Chapter Thirty Four; Douglas K. Hooker
The Firebird was a lot softer
than I'd thought, but harder
than she seemed.
With 'Pete' was that pathetic grasping, imagining her Superboy cared if she lived or died. Firebird knew Priam didn't care. She knew she'd been a convenience and enjoyed him as I'd enjoyed Camille.
Sure, Camille was 'using' me. Spending my money, numbing my brain, but my pay was her body. I knew the day the money dried up, she'd be gone. But for while it lasted, I had a beautiful woman in my bed.
Firebird was right. The future doesn't matter, it's the now. Grab life with both hands and hold on for as long as you can, then let go.
Firebird was the kind of woman I instinctively fell for, I probably was half in love with her. If I hadn't mentioned my three wives, maybe something could have sparked. But then, she's a Bounty Hunter with a top reputation.
Why risk it?
Not that I was wanted, not that anyone knew, to my knowledge, that I was pinching fossils, but I wouldn't gamble Firebird wouldn't turn me in.
And I bet that's how she met Priam.
Oh I could write the script now. She gets him, likes what she sees. Doesn't turn him....but he didn't jive...
I needed to know who and what Priam was. I jumped into my chair, switched on my com, hacked into the securest networks. I needed to get a Superboy link.
There had to be one.
Superboys, outside of Priam, travel in threes or mores, and keep checking in as their continued existence is crucial to the spinning of their planets.
Priam didn't gel.
I threw myself on the floor, doing press ups. I pulled off my shirt, kept going. I wanted to put myself into the mindset of KrimValdonParnScoto, my alter-ego.
Hyped, I was back in the chair, and using my Eugenic lingo, I sought the link. I found one so quickly I thought it false until I was asked the number of my key.
Well I still had my key. But the number?
I got up, went to where I kept my secrets, took it out.
The Key was a tiny vial. Inside that vial was the bodily fluid of an ancestor of Krim. Ahmet knew I still had it, but having affection for his teeth didn't bother to ask for it back.
How The Gennies Play it
I examined the vial, couldn't see any number, but then I didn't have Supereyes. I did have a magnifying glass.
And yes, there was a number.
I entered the number, and got a set of words, which I translated as;
"Welcome descendent of Vincent Parnel."
Their names are chips of the originals.
I got it.
Then came another burst of gibberish which I resolved into:
"Enter a five letter name by which you would be known."
Well, the only five letter block would be Scoto, so I typed that.
I was then asked if I wanted to communicate with any particular person, record
my location, or join others who were currently communicating. I chose the third.
There were a number of chats going on.
Some were among those Tellur or Molbe or Dalmar, (no Sagir). Other of the chapt were topics, such as where to eat on what planet, and a list of warnings.
I went to that list.
I copied it all, thousands of words, then did a search for Priam.
He had to be out of the ordinary.
I didn't sit and wait for the output, I wanted to clue myself.
I moved from the com, shoved aside some mess, started to do sit-ups,
going over every moment he'd been in range.
When I first saw him, on the pier, Priam was blatantly a Superboy trying to pass.
I'd called; "Sagir..."
Normal people would pronounce the word 'Sag Ear', but Superboys pronounce it Say Ge Ire.
As it is said quickly, unless you've got a good ear, you won't hear it.
I'd spoken as a Superboy, giving every letter its due. Priam had spun, reaching for a weapon, but he didn't have one. For a second he was unsettled. Liable to do anything.
In that second, I spoke to ratchet him down a few levels. I knew Dalmarians
his enemies so worded my remarks to betray a dislike of them.
I spoke to him, but looked at her, because she was 'alive', he was...?
He wasn't interested in how I knew what he was. Like a tiger watching the approach of a smaller animal when he's not particularly hungry, that was how Priam looked at me.
It was almost a Superboy reaction, but a Gennie would question, take control.
He left it to Firebird.
So what did that mean?
He trusted her?
Trust was a gene they didn't have.
Inside their yacht, He'd studied me, but revealed nothing.
I was given nothing to analyse.
Was he mentally defective?
One expects bluster, an attempt to affront and best, not languidity.
She caught my confusion, knew I was pondering, tried to up him with a
demi-apology, demi-warning, but he wasn't playing the scene as a human nor a Superboy.
And there has got to be a reason for it.
She told me he; 'misers words', adding that each one he'd emitted was
'worth a few chapters'.
When he finally did speak it was at me; "If it wasn't for your facial hair..."
His voice was as remarkable as the rest of him. A calming, deep certain voice.
It made me uneasy.
I wanted out, but she'd asked me to stay.
I didn't sit, I didn't move. Superboy continued to watch me, indifferent.
Firebird went for her disguise case, but there wasn't hair that would match his.
She'd have to cut one of his locks and unravel it, and I was not going to spend
an extra second in the yacht with him.
"Let him go," Priam had said softly.
He picked up my fear/discomfort whatever. He had me in his glom so deep he
could number my nose hairs, if he was numerate.
He acted oblivious, but he saw and heard and smelled everything.
Did he understand English, or was he translating?
Just as I have to translate the commands I'm getting from the Superboy Link
into English, then back into Eugenic, was that why he seemed slow on the uptake...
no he said he didn't.
I picture the next meeting at the museum.
The Dalmar entered, gave Priam a glom, he seemed oblivious.
Firebird picked the danger, did he?
I was the one who followed the Dalmars on the monitor, annoyed Security
with my fears, felt 'protective?' of Priam.
He hadn't noted he was in jeopardy. He was a kid at the zoo.
Unless he'd analysed, filed, and knew himself safe?
Was he so dangerous that three Dalmar were no match for him?
He wouldn't trust me or Firebird, no, not even Firebird to protect him , so he
knew he could deal with them without breaking a sweat.
I thought to poke about the Dalmar scene as we drove, but Priam seemed to be
sleeping in the back seat. When we reached the Gennie restaurant, Priam gave
it half glance, walked away as if he had never intended going in.
This left me and Firebird on the pavement.
So who or what did he see in that restaurant?
I got us over to Dave's Pick Fish and he examined every fish, while Firebird
and I ran the words; food, exercise, grooming: Priam's day.
When I passed as a Gennie, that was my day.
Firebird gave me a glimpse; "There's something beneath the surface."
There always is with a Gennie.
Priam was harder to read than the others.
He kept up a static.
When I'd asked Firebird where she was staying, he interrupted, made sure she
couldn't tell me. Ahh, yes, he didn't trust me.
Didn't trust her either. No mystery.
He's a Superboy They don't trust anyone.
I returned to the com; lot of mention...a lot of murders.
Murders of Priam Zal/murders Priam Zal committed.
The murders of Priam Zal were always the 'wrong ' Priam Zal.
The murders by Priam Zal were always groups.
Groups of Dalmar murdered at one time by one man....impossible...yet...
over and over again..the same output...Priam Zal was a one man army...
if half of this crap was close to true, this guy I met, this Priam...he was so deadly...no wonder he didn't give the three Dalmar a glance.
He'd killed fifteen in his last outing.
Superboys are bigger, stronger, faster than the average human.
They were bred to be.
So how is it that one man...no...one Superboy is so much more powerful than
Not a batch of clones; one clone out of a batch of clones....one clone...was not completely a clone. Who had more whatever in his genetic makeup....
Maybe not one Priam Zal, maybe 100 Priam Zals who were enhanced?
Or maybe one 'test' subject...one clone created as a 'model?'
I can't be sure ... but I can see that Firebird was linked with someone far more dangerous than any other Superboy.
Firebird got him, he got Firebird, she was his best 'cover' because she was the
only norm that had ever captured Gennies. And of course, being 'in love' with
him, would protect him. And where he knew the physical arts, she was a master
at the intellectual.
Tired, I fell into bed had few nightmares about Priam, and In the morning, before
dragging myself to the saltmine I did a bit of research on Gennies.
Ahmet had been pretty accurate in his Exposition. The point he didn't get was what the Eugenics were. How they were created.
Koreans created a master race by using genetic material from their best and brightest. Children had no mother/father. The sperm from one of their 'B & B'
would be tricked out with mixtures from dozens of others, and the resulting
child would be raised by teams of scientists.
Humans as soup was the blueprint for Bulgaria and Moldavia.
I can see the difference now between me and my wife having our offspring
'perfected' and a bowl of genetic soup being inserted into a neutralised
egg and put into some fems body to be raised by a gang of brainists.
These Firsts (as they were named), were given keys to identify their genetic material.
All Eugenics have keys, only those from the first four batches, (Quartz), really
mattered. That's where they get their names. Pieces of the names that went into the soup.
KrimValdonParnScoto, the name I'd used, was chips of four names.
Krim maybe short for Krimsky, or Krimetz, a Valdon, Vincent Parnel, and Scoto.
The real Krim held Vincent Parnel's sperm, the ship on which all the other bits travelled.
Quartz keys were the real keys, the rest as good as the one Supergirl stole from
me, which carried my genetic gunk.
Eugenics wasn't just being perfect, it was being created from soup. It was having
genes from all about the place mixed together to build a Super.
I'm sure, inside of that Priam are genes from animals; to make him faster,
stronger, better vision, hearing, than humans.
if I tie it together; if I match Priam Zal to this soup recipe; what was created was
not a man but a killing machine. And that's what Firebird has in her bed.
There was nothing I could do, say, think...clearly Priam expected me to find
out who and what he was, and tell Firebird...so he made that impossible.
I left my sty, went to work, ate at a place Eugenics wouldn't drink water. I was
getting my double takes cause my shape is Super, but my face has fur.
My fear for Firebird, wouldn't leave. I wondered how long he would use her,
before he killed her, unless she had some use to him.
How could she be so stupid as to get involved with Priam?