Chapter 12:

The Ascending Saint Leader of Silicon Valley House

A Moribund Hero

Lucas Parell slowly stepped out of the shadows, wiping a bloodied dagger clean. The dagger was one he had used to kill his father, who was the former Ascending Saint Leader (Head) of the Golden Warrior Big Farma House in Silicon Valley. The kill was a sanctioned order from his Saint Leader, who was the leading authority for his jurisdiction, answering directly to the Golden Saint Ordained; Atlas Emperor's right hand.Bookmark here

One too many mistakes and slip-ups had occurred during his father's management. The latest batch of cadet defect runaways was a nail in the coffin. Honestly, killing him with a dagger was too honorable. But, the man was his father, so he gave him that respect. He was also kind to kill him in his beloved House office.Bookmark here

"Now to turn things around." He sighed.Bookmark here

The factory's current reputation was a laughingstock within the empire's Eight Zone nation. Restoring status won't happen overnight.Bookmark here

Lucas turned and came face to face with a somber portrait of his father. An austere man of blue eyes, graying hair in a crew cut, and hardened features betraying a lifetime of warmongering.Bookmark here

His features were the only aspects he had in common with the man. Lucas's narrow blue eyes had seen many things in twenty-seven years to make him wary. And his thin lips had betrayed more secrets against beneficial friends to boost his status. Women and men found his appeal desirable, which made building upon his ambitions easier. Now he was the head of his family's organization. But it wasn't enough.Bookmark here

"Look what you have done, father." He frowned as he glimpsed the state of his black slacks, stained red with blood. Splatters were on his black suit jacket, blue silk business shirt, and silver tie bearing the red-star emblem of the Global Confederate Empire.Bookmark here

He grabbed a cloth from the nearby glass desk, which glowed with alphanumeric code and other data. Wiping the blood stains made the mess worse. The stains were set to stay. Well, it didn't matter, he would incinerate the suit later. At least his hands appeared clean enough.Bookmark here

He dumped the dagger in the waste bin next to the desk and stepped toward the large window that looked out to a range of snow-capped mountains beneath a cloudy sky. Unaware of the bloody footprints he had left along the light wood floorboards.Bookmark here

Of the many failures to rectify and compensate the empire, the first for his rectification was the regathering of the recent cadet defects who had escaped into the wild. Stricter protocols were also introduced, with the inclusion of a personnel check and replacement.Bookmark here

Two golden warriors, in gold soft body armor from head to toe, entered like fast-moving shadows. They bowed before Lucas's upright back.Bookmark here

Lucas prompted for their report. One of the warriors placed a tablet device on the glass desk.Bookmark here

"Dismissed." Lucas gave the order.Bookmark here

As swiftly as they came, they were gone.Bookmark here

He turned to face the object, his telekinesis was applied to move it into his view. The tablet spun before his eyes, increasing speed until it was a flurry of sparks and color. A name and number appeared within the light. He snapped his fingers. The tablet shattered in a glittery shower.Bookmark here

Lucas left the room. He entered a glass corridor that showcased an insignificant number of stars in the mountain valley's evening sky. A hint of civilization twinkled along a distant horizon. But, his focus was on the golden elevator doors at the end. He rode it down to a hidden level.Bookmark here

The elevator doors eventually opened to his destination. He stepped into a truth of his factory's failures on the lowest floor of the building. Walking past two large conveyor belts that were moving dead and heavily hacked bodies of boys and men into sweltering incinerators. Of course, all the mechanical prosthetics and implants had been removed for reuse.Bookmark here

"Too many failures. We need to stop lottery picking from trash." He complained to himself, ignoring the lab-coat technicians who were surprised and scared to see him. Yet, they respectfully acknowledged his existence.Bookmark here

Patrolling chrome and black, blue-eyed androids were content to let him be after he was scanned a couple of times. Rolling or flying throughout the rows of incinerators and body conveyor belts were black ball drones. Most were shooting lasers into the dead bodies to confirm they were definitely deceased before being burned into ash.Bookmark here

His walk led him to a sliding door, which hissed open. Inside was one chair fixed in the room's center. It restrained a woman, who wore a gold-white nurse tunic bearing the red-star crest on her shoulders. She was elderly, almost ready to pass through death's door herself.Bookmark here

Lucas snapped his fingers, calling up a semi-transparent display screen before his eyes. "You have the privilege of speaking to me."Bookmark here

The nurse held her silence.Bookmark here

"You aided the surgeons in four biodroid enhancement procedures that resulted in failures two months ago. But none of the cadet numbers ended up here." He stated and tapped the screen.Bookmark here

She remained silent.Bookmark here

He peered into her eyes. She looked fragile, but her gray eyes held a fierce strength that was unnerving.Bookmark here

"I can see this is going nowhere." He turned to leave.Bookmark here

"Young leader, I pity your time. To be the one to see to the end of your House. Your father was wiser."Bookmark here

Anger sparked within him, he spun around to face the nurse.Bookmark here

"Oh?"Bookmark here

"Winter will come, young leader. When Winter comes, you shall know Our Mother."Bookmark here

His anger became paramount, stirring up his telekinesis to silence the crone for good.Bookmark here

To think a lowly worker had dared to speak that way to him. He was glad to leave the floor and experience behind as he stepped into the elevator. Shadows entered to stand behind him.Bookmark here

"Send word to Administration. I want the numbers of every cadet she had handled on the day of the escapes."Bookmark here

The shadows were gone.Bookmark here

When Lucas reached the top floor and the office with the view, he activated his call chip in his hands. The image of a woman digitally appeared before him.Bookmark here

"Prepare a stealth task force. Put your best Black Knight Shadows on it." He ended the call to dismiss the image.Bookmark here

A while later, his peace was disturbed by an elderly man in a lab technician's coat. He presented the pick-list of all the warrior cadets the nurse had handled for the biodroid enhancement.Bookmark here

Lucas peered at the results on the digital glass tablet. The nurse assisted with twelve enhancement operations: six had died on the table and the four sent to the infirmary for observation. None of those four were registered on the waste management logs, nor any other check-in log that day.Bookmark here

"Were we able to reclaim any of the four?" he asked.Bookmark here

"Th-Three, your worship." The elderly technician fumbled and drew Lucas's attention to the number that was still to be accounted for. He hurried out of the office once dismissed.Bookmark here

Lucas made another call to the woman he had previously spoken to. "Have the stealth task force track down 426983ACE1. I want to know if the warrior cadet is functioning or destroyed."Bookmark here

The call ended and transitioned into another.Bookmark here

"Your worship." An android robotically greeted Lucas when his image appeared before him.Bookmark here

"I want all knowledge referencing Our Mother. Especially, if it relates to cults, groups, or factions."Bookmark here

The call ended.Bookmark here

Lucas stepped toward a credenza holding glasses and decanters of fine liquor. He helped himself to a decanter of 100-year-old whiskey and a glass; carried it back to an armchair before the window.Bookmark here

"Truly a bloody mess." He confirmed his situation to the starless night sky.Bookmark here

Hungry Sheep
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