Elizabeth sauntered in one morning, pigtails bouncing, in a baby blue and white outfit suitable for a softball game. Under her sleeves the last digits of a new, dark black large-numbered tatoo were visible. In either hand she held a polished object. .Before she stepped up to the keenles she concentrated to drani the xilvrin frmo her eyes so the natural blue beneath shone. X-192 was under orders not to give the impression to X-109 that she was also a human Xilvrin being.
"David? Oh David, dear half-brother..." she sang.
"Grrwhr," The creature tensed. He looked better, more filled out. The spine had re-aligned so that it found itself able to stand upright once more. He'd given in... living like a dumb animal to survive. He was one the edge of being broken and she knew it.
A cold wet leathery snout pressed against his palm brought him back to reality. Felix wagged his tail expectantly.
"This is for you," Elizabeth slapped a revolver into David's open hand through the bars. "It was my old one. I have an automatic now. Yours is called Beta. Mine is Alpha." She referred to the engravings on the sides of the guns. These were custom made, one-of-a-kind pieces. He had to wonder who would design such things for a little girl and why a little girl would want them.
"Shouldn't be the othr way around? The beta release is the latter," he was thinking in terms of computer software.
"Not realease. Heirarchy. Alpha is the top. You are subpar. Like Beta, you are a near-worthless prototype. You get the subpar model."
"Why are you giving me this? I fight with my hands."
"It comes in handy. Don't look down on a gift, especially one you barely deserve."
"I don't want it. You know what I want? I want to go home. I want my stuff. I want to take my dog and get the hell out of here." He added for good measure, "Please."
He did a double-take. "Really?"
"Promise me," she twirled her weapon on the handpull aruond her finger, "You have to promise me that you will keep raining. You owe it to me. You owe it to yourself."
"Train ... to take on Sunsand again?"
"Come back when you're ready ... when you've grown up."
"Ironic coming from that sadistic baby," he whispered to Felix.
"Your possessions will be placed at rear shipping bay. You can walk out. Father is distracted in his office. He won't stop you."
"Are you sure he's in his office? He doesn't know that I'm escaping?" She could be lying. It could be a trap. Give him a glimmer of a hope only to yank it away under his feet. How she would laugh at the gullible fool. Then again, she could be telling the truth. In that case he didn't know what would have brought about her change of mind but he wouldn't spit on good fortune.
"Yes. You're free to do as you wish for now. She turned her back on him, pressing the button that opened all the cages. She would play stupid when asked about it and claim it was a wiring malfunction.
A smile spread across David's face as he embraced his new freedom.
Will ignored the furious knocking on his door.
It would not cease. "I'm sorry, can we finish this at four? I am being rudely called away. Yes, thank you." He was forced to hang up on the man who was conducting careful negotiations his pet projects might be compromised without further support. He pulled on the white lab coat over his silk shirt. "What could possibly be so important to demand my attention when I specifically requested not to be disturbed!" He shouted at the banging.
"Me," The out of breath voice replied.
Will opened the door to see the naked bloody-striped form of his offspring. The neither male nor female form was a gruesome spectacle. On of the Xilvrin-powered German Shepards growled from behind its hoofed legs.
"Squeemish?" David bared its teeth.
"How the hell did you get out?" Will demanded, for once the one to be ambushed.
"Maybe if you took more insterest in your child's life, you'd know, Dad." It loved invoking the name, knowing it had him right where it wanted him. "I bet you're real proud of what you created. Didn't I turn out great? Now how should I thank you for all you did to me? Or better yet, all you did for Mom?" It brought out the revolver he'd been hiding behind it's back, pointing the weapon square between the icy blue eyes it so despised.
"David, don't be hasty. Don't do something you'll regret," Will asked of it calmly. It was the first time he'd called it by name instead of by the serial number tattooed on it's right shoulder. It was an attempt to win trust. "You can't really bring yourself to shoot your own father, can you?"
"Regret?" David cocked it's head to the side. "I've been fantasizing about killing ever since I learned what a bastard you are. Blowing you away will give me great pleasure." With his free hand he grabbed onto Will's, weaving ribbons of Xilvrin around it to hold his target in place.
Will drew a gun from his pocket, matching David's pose. A gun was to each of their temples now. As he predicted, his child had not reacted. "Did you think it would be that easy?" Will smiled. "A little lesson, from father to son..." he pulled the trigger. At such a close proximity, he couldn't miss. David fell back limply, a hole now in his head. "Don't hesitate."
An empty silence temporarily washed over the confines of the robin's egg blue walled room.
Will found he couldn't shake the zombie-like being from him. They were caught in a dance of death. Xilvrin bounds clamped to his left arm. The more he pulled, the tighter the Chinese finger puzzle became. Unlike the paper version, this was made of razors. Sharp edges cut deep into flesh and sawed through bone. Will's face twisted in agony.
David slowly rose, the blood from his brain blinding one eye. "You didn't think it would be that easy, did you?" It parroted his father's earlier words. "It takes more than one bullet to kill me."
Now was the time for revenge.
"Ah... Aahh!" Will cried out as his wrist was severed in two. He crashed backwards into his desk, clutching the gushing stump.
"Need a hand, Dad?" David laughed maniacally, tossing the body part aside.
"What ... did that ... accomplish?" The man did his best to hide the pain he was in.
"A girl I once knew," He half-skipped around the room, cloven hooves clinking together like tiny bells, "very religious girl ... told me something like ... if your right hand knows your left hand has sinned, cut it off. You use your hands to create horrors. You used them to create me. Let's see how you good you do without one. I want you to live on knowing what you've done with that reminder from me. Any more abuses of power and I'll return to take the other one." For spite, David kicked at it's fathers head with the pointed end of one hoof.
Will curled against the desk to shield himself from the blows.
Elizabeth, who had by now caught wind of what was going down, stood aghast in the hall. She opened a panel in the wall and pulled a lever, triggering the alarm system.
Felix whined and barked at the high pitch sound and flashing red lights. David took it as a sign that he should leave. He and the dog took of running before they could be stopped towards the back of the building.
"Daddy?" Elizabeth knelt by the man she most admired, pulling him up tearfully. "What did he do to you daddy?" She;d expected her half-brother to flee like a coward. She hadn't expected it capable of something like this. "I'm so sorry daddy. I'm so sorry." She supported his weight against her. The twelve year old was much stronger than she looked. She would stay with him until help arrived. "He'll pay. You'll see, He'll pay one day. If I ever see him again, I'll kill him. I promise you. I'll kill him."
Some days later, on the east coast, Mr. and Mrs. Reid were in the kitchen preapring a simple dinner.
Mrs. Reid had a stiff hours glass figure in her blue polyester dress ... the kind only one who had spent her good years in the 1950s would find fashionable. She dieted to a default. Her skin damaaged by years of tannng without sunblock caked over with makeup forced into the folds of her skin. Her hair was kept short in a puff. Mr. Reid was more roly-poly. His two children had inherited his figure. A brown mustache sat under his round nose not unlike the Monopoly man. His hair was thinning and dyed to match the color of his mustache but obviously graying. His attire was also reminiscent of their country club parties... a started white shirt, sweater-vest, and ochre slacks.
Their abode also reflected their country club status. The immaculate space was ripped out of the pages of Better Homes and Gardens.
Tonight was their personal chef's night off. Instead of going out they planned to sit in with their daughter, who'd come back to live with them, for some quality time.
"Hand me the vinegrette for the salad, would you Dianne?" Mr. Reid kindly asked his wife.
"Did you hear that?" She tiptoed towards the window. "I heard a dog barking."
"So, a dog is barking. If it carries long into the night, we'll call about it. Nothing out of the ordinary."
"I heard it from OUR yard." Dianne Reid insisted.
"You're hearing the wind," her husband assured her.
"There's someone at the door," she gasped.
"Well, see who it is."
Before she could turn the knob, the knob turned on its own. She knew she'd locked it.
A diststressed tall youth greeted her. He carried a large bag in one hand and a gun in the other. With possibly the biggest German Shepard she'd layed eyes on by his side, he stepped out of the rainy night and into her kitchen.
"Robbers! Martin, call the police!" Dainne Reid clutched her string of pearls to her chest.
"I'm not a theif," David said wearilly. "I'm here to see Ruth."
Martin had his wrinkled hand on the reciever. "There's no one here by that name."
"Don't play games with me. I want to see Ruth Reid. Now." He threw down his bag. Felix commenced with sniffing every corner, just as any dog does whne in a new house.
"Look here, what do you want with our daughter?" Martin stared him down, willing to get between the stranger and his grown child.
"I'm her son," David put it bluntly.
"Oh, that can't be. Ruth never had any children. We would have known." His grandmother refuted the idea.
"Start telling me the truth. Come clean, boy, and we won't be so hard on you." Martin aceeded.
I don't have time for this.
Xilvrin drripped from his fingers, flowing down then up to cover his arms, chest, head, and legs. It dropped to all fours, the form too heavy to toddle on hind legs. The cougar strode out of the Reid's kitchen and into the white white-walled, white-carpeted, tan-furnished living room.
Felix stayed at the island, begging for table scraps.
Ruth sat numbly on the sofa watching a made for TV movie. She didn't lift her head when the great cat lept up beside her, twitching it's tail.
"Tell them," it breathed into her ear, "that I am your son."
"I don't know what you're talking about. How can a cat be my son?" Her gaze remained fixed on the actress on the flickering screen.
"Don't deny me," David growled, knowing she'd recognized him in this shape. "I've come too far for that."
"What do you want from me?" Her eyes moved to its direction, her body stiff.
"Identity. Humanity. For you to be a mother. Stop pretending I don't exist! Face me! Let me be ..."
"I can't ... " She shook her head, tears welling up. "I can't deal with this."
"Don't tell me you can't!" He roared, pressing a big paw, claws titled back as not to scratch her, to her throat.
"Do you mean to kill me? If you do ... do it. I don't care anymore."
"I wouldn't kill you. Do you think I would? Do you think that' what I am?" He shed his armor. He showed her the bullet wound above his right eyebrow. He put the bullet picket out with long Xilvrin tweezers the night after the incident into her short fingers. "I couldn't kill Will. That didn't stop him rom killing me ... or trying to. But I'm not him, Mom. I may have his genes, some of his looks ... but I'm not him."
"Was it awful?" She asked of his experience with his other parent.
"You and I have something in common now ... constant migranies," was the best he could say of it.
She covered her mouth in overwhelming emotion, catching glimpses of the other scars showing through his clothes and how ghastly he looked. Knowing he'd been a victim of Will's lessened her fear of her son. They were on the same level now. She did what she'd never done. She hugged him.
"Its true," she told her bewildered parents. "This is David ... my son."