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“Of Course, the idea of [creating] part-human, part-animal chimeras…raises a host of ethical and safety issues…. Is a sheep with human [DNA] making up part of its brain no longer just a sheep?”

“‘Humanised’ Organs Can be Grown in Animals,” New Scientist, 12-17-03


Moments before, over the incessant noise of the security alarm, Joe had shoved past the door and pulled Katherine into the hall. Now he looked at the guard who lay slouched on the floor. The man appeared to be unconscious. He stared down the corridor he’d followed earlier, then the opposite way.

“Cover your face,” he shouted as he pushed Katherine to one side.

He focused on the wall between the door trim and ceiling and raised his fist, bringing it down swiftly, smashing the hall camera lens with the ball of his hand so abruptly that it made Katherine cry out, “What are you doing!”

“Closing somebody’s eyes…now give me your hand.”


“The bracelet you’re wearing has a locator chip in it,” he said urgently. When she hesitated, he grabbed her forearm and withdrew the Ka-Bar fighting knife from the utility belt. She cringed as he slid the shiny blade between her wrist and the armband, cutting through the plastic bangle like butter. Tossing the bracelet into the room where she’d been held moments before, he pulled the door shut and saddled the knife.

“Stay with me,” he ordered, and took off down the hall.

Running on fear and instinct, he realized the original plan was immaterial now. He had intended to acquire Sheri, reenter the service elevator, cut the medical bracelet from her wrist and leave it on the floor. The two of them would ride the elevator to Level Ten and, after getting off, command the elevator to resume movement to Level One. While the bracelet’s beacon misled security to the southwest side of the complex, they’d move through the low security area to the northeast side of the facility. Phobos would join them there, ride a second elevator to the Dungeon, and escape through the Nephilim Training Access Tunnel to the forest outside, all in less than forty minutes.

That had been the plan, but only one thing was certain now—find and rescue Sheri, or die trying.

“Where are we going?” Katherine yelled above the alarm as they rounded a corner.

He made several more paces and stopped at the intersection where he’d gone left earlier. He looked both ways for anything that might indicate where Genetics was. He noted a long hallway leading to the maintenance elevator in one direction and a series of doors in the other. Moments ago, he’d heard strange voices or birds in this area. Now it was impossible to detect anything above the ceaseless bellow of the alarm.

“I’m looking for Genetics,” he shouted back. “You’re positive you don’t know where it is?”

“Promise,” she said, her radiant eyes soliciting his trust.

Although he had only just met her, he felt an unexpected bond with Katherine, not at all like a sister, more of a soul mate.

Besides her delicate appeal, there is subtle strength about her, he thought. A resilience that undoubtedly sustained her in this dark and disturbing place.

He told himself it was normal to feel this connection. They were both in the same vulnerable situation. It was something like the Florence Nightingale Effect, in reverse.

Yet he knew the truth was, in spite of the danger they were in, in spite of his singular mission to rescue Sheri, in spite of his fear of attachment and unwillingness to accept it, her beauty had caught him like a magnet.

As he stood there, considering his next move, the security alarm inexplicably shut off. The enemy was closing in. They wanted to hear his activity.

Now footsteps could be detected echoing up the adjoining stairwell. The “Down” light on the elevator was also glowing red. Different persons were coming from various directions.

Katherine was beside him, looking the opposite way when he grabbed her by the hand and spun her around so quickly that she literally flew off her feet. He maintained his grip and ran toward the corridor that led back to the room where she had been a prisoner, dragging her behind him.

As he approached the opposite end of the middle hallway, he heard a faint but distinct sound. Somebody groaning. He shoved Katherine against the wall and for a split second met her understanding eyes. He glanced at the PAL and found the energy level at eighty-two percent. Carefully, he peered around the corner. The guard was back on his feet, stumble-running toward them, his pistol drawn from its holster.

Feeling that the man hadn’t seen him, he jerked back and calculated the distance between them. There was no time to wait. He took a deep breath and swept his foot into the hall with hyper-agility, catching the soldier by surprise and dropping him face-first onto the floor.

The weight and inertia of the guard’s body knocked Joe off keel too, and he tumbled, dropping the PAL.

Rolling over then staggering upright, the guard clutched his nose, which appeared to be broken. Blood gushed through his fingers as he started toward Joe.

Joe jumped to his feet just as the guard took a swing at him.



Easily avoiding the wildly thrown punch, Joe responded with a quick left hook that twisted the man, felling him like a timber. The back of the guard’s head cracked against the concrete floor so loud that Joe thought it might have killed him. He was on the floor, frozen like a mannequin tossed from a pedestal, his narrow pupils glazed and rolling back, arms limp at his sides.

With his stomach nervous and knotted, Joe knelt beside the soldier and checked his breathing. Unconscious, maybe comatose, the man was barely alive. Joe picked up the PAL and the guard’s service pistol and stepped over him, signaling Katherine to follow.

Running left, he veered from the area where the girls had been incarcerated into an unfamiliar and vacant hall, which immediately struck him as odd, maybe even poetic. The very level of Montero where Apol had insisted on the least amount of people for secrecy reasons now seemed to provide a unique opportunity to move about unnoticed. Even cameras were scarce on this level; he hadn’t seen another one since the one he’d broken at the doorway.

Now as he turned the corner and came to an abrupt halt, he discovered the real reason for the lack of cameras. Due to the accelerated plans following Phobos’s urgent call that morning, he had not memorized the entire schematic and was unaware that this particular way led to a storage and records rooms area where nothing existed but a dead end. There was only one way to go: back the way he came.

Looking at Katherine, he half hoped she would offer some advice, perhaps a revelation that had just come to her from pieces of information she’d gathered about this place. She moved toward him with the natural grace of a ballet dancer, but offered only puzzled beauty. Seeing her need for him to act, he stepped to the corner and previewed the former hallway. Now he could hear somebody, presumably military police, and a brief but familiar squawking. The bird things.

He closed his eyes and reviewed Memory Group One. Memory Group Two. Nothing helpful. His thoughts raced as he considered what to do. Using the PAL and the MP’s service revolver might disarm two, maybe three persons before somebody fired back. He also had explosives but worried about using them before he knew where Sheri was.

Then he remembered, the Active Camouflage Shield.

As Katherine watched inquisitively, he reached behind the load-bearing vest and jerked the thin, high-tech covering out. Unfolding the flexible shield, he motioned for her to follow him to the corner of the hall. He wrapped his free arm around her soft belly and pulled the “blanket” over the two of them. Flipping the toggle on the back of the ACS to the “on” position, he heard a diminutive chirp. Dozens of tiny cameras on the blanket’s edge instantly picked up and analyzed the surrounding wall and floor textures, transmitting that data through fiber optics to the microprocessor. A second later the active matrix LCD skin projected a seamless facsimile around the two of them, matching local images and effectively rendering them invisible.

“Stay perfectly still,” he whispered, drawing his right arm around her waist.

Down the hall there was movement at the T, then somebody talking about the unconscious guard.

“Sir, it’s Davies. He has a pulse, but somebody’s kicked the *%$&* out of him.”

Joe felt Katherine’s heart begin slamming in her chest. He pulled the cloak taut to her and smoothed the ACS wrinkles, whispering reassuringly into her ear, “Easy now, it’ll be okay.”

She clung to his stout arm.

It was, of course, a lie. Fitful images of his father’s tortured body dumped like so much garbage alongside the road flashed precognitive glimpses of their future before his eyes. He breathed her perfume again, hoping for better, focusing on Sheri.

“All right…get him to the infirmary,” Joe heard somebody say, probably the squad commander. “Johnson, you help,”

“Yes, sir.”

“You two…go that way. Clark, you come with me.”

“Yes, sir.”


Inside the ETV hangar, the specialist team assigned by General Layton to remove the Nibiruan Key was busy analyzing the ship’s onboard system, trying to reverse what had started the night before, when Rahu, the phantasmagoric and genetically engineered monster built by Apol Leon burst into the hangar shrieking like a banshee.

Staring at the brute with no less horror than if he had been gazing into the eyes of Satan himself, a young guard on the scaffolding yelled frantically into the alien ship, “Sarge! C’mere! Look at the size of this thing!”

He’d seen Nephilim before, but nothing as big and as frightening as this one. Its shoulders, broad as a pickup truck, shadowed beneath fierce jaws as large as an African lion’s. Thick patches of orange-brown fur quivered like mats of dirty wire against its predatory salivating. Judging by its insane snarl and the clacking of its talons against the floor, the thing was on a mission.

The guard swallowed hard as the beastly eyes targeted the platform. The nightmare had spotted him. Fidgeting, he pulled his revolver from its holster and pointed it at the giant. “F-f-freeze!”

Rahu responded with a thunderous roar. The sound was territorial, like the gargled bellow of a hideously overgrown silverback gorilla.

Appearing to anticipate the firing of the pistol, Rahu bounded across the open floor before the guard could manage the trigger.

Even in his terror, the MP was amazed at the creature’s supernatural speed. He raced to the edge of the scaffolding and looked out over the hangar floor. The Nephilim was gone.

Pushing the crowd aside and exiting the ETV, Sarge joined the young man at the railing. He paused, listening.

Beneath the vessel, the hull squeaked as if being scratched by dull knives.

The boyish guard trembled involuntarily.

An eerie presence…followed by rotten air drifted through the hangar.

The sound slowed. Stopped.

Bitter fetidness enveloped the platform until even the simple task of breathing became difficult.

Curious, several personnel poked their heads from the ETV.

Suddenly there was a swisssh, and from out of nowhere Rahu lurched from below, froze in midair, and landed on the young MP, rattling the steel structure and squashing the kid as flat as a pancake beneath his massive, ironlike heels. A gurgle leaked from the boy’s collapsed head as one eye turned awkwardly toward Sarge before fading.

Standing nearly nine feet tall, Rahu loomed over Sarge, seething, wads of infected saliva dripping like thick strands of bile from his hungry fangs onto the destroyed soldier’s face.

Sarge stared blankly into the monster’s zenithal irises, as if he knew there was no hope. In a flash the creature grabbed him by the throat and threw him across the hangar. He slammed against a concrete wall fifty feet away, his life extinguished before his crooked heap could hit the floor.

As the curiosity seekers shrieked and ran back inside the ship, Rahu slapped his chest, wrenched the dead guard’s head from beneath his feet, tossed the cranium into his mouth, and walked into the crowded vessel. A moment later the ETV vibrated with the sickening sounds of crunching bones and screaming. In the midst of the ship, the Enigma’s tempo surged, fifty times stronger than before, fueled by the human suffering.



The officer in pursuit of Joe stared at the end of the hallway, undoubtedly thinking his eyes were playing tricks on him. Forty feet away, a hand and six inches of arm had materialized from thin air. It hung there, as if suspended by invisible wire, holding what looked like a DustBuster. As he turned his weapon toward the anomaly, two brightly colored beams of light struck him in the face, and he fell to the floor convulsing.

A second soldier had been clearing the last hall when the squad commander dropped. Hearing it, he came around the corner and found the officer down, grunting and jerking. He drew up his weapon, turned full circle, quickly cleared the hallway, then knelt beside the commander. There was no sign of blood or weapons trauma.

“Sir,” he whispered. “What’s the matter?”

Seconds later powerful electricity from the PAL Joe was aiming slammed against his side, leveling him onto the carpet next to the other man.

Joe’s bodiless face appeared, followed by his shoulders, Katherine’s face, and finally their waists and legs. Joe dropped the ACS and moved across the hallway toward the incapacitated soldiers. He held the PAL and the service revolver forward, never once taking his sights off his targets.


Katherine was standing beside Joe when without warning she said, “Sorry, guys.”

Joe started to shush her—

“APOLOGY ACCEPTED,” a robust voice at the other end of the hall boomed. “NOW PUT YOUR WEAPONS DOWN! DO IT NOW!”

A hulk in solid black BDUs had been stealthily positioned in the T cavity the whole time. He moved partway around the junction and assumed a standing combat position near the wall’s edge. With his machine gun pressed firmly against his shoulder, he repeated the command without flinching. “DO IT NOW!”

Joe knew the soldier was serious, and that his weapon could deliver a massive amount of firepower with a single pull of the trigger. The M-249 had recently replaced the military’s aging Browning Automatic rifles. This one housed 200 rounds of improved NATO 5.56mm ammunition and could cut a man in half at this distance.

Wisely, Joe placed both guns on the floor and raised his hands in surrender. Katherine did the same.


Not far away, outside Joe’s view, the man with demon and animal genes in his chromosomes walked through his private laboratory to the cryopreservation area. Having been in the Dungeon when the alarm sounded and riding the elevator to Level Twenty after it shut off, he was unaware of Joe’s presence.

He stood near the embryo freezer and withdrew the designated straw. The Super-Nephilim embryo had been in suspended animation since the day before—frozen at exactly 196 degrees centigrade. He placed the Devil’s would-be host in the portable container and walked into the hall, distorting a Disney tune as he went.

“Oh, I whissstle while I work, do do do da da da da…I bet thisss is gonna hurt, la la la la la la la…”


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