Riding the elevator down to the subbasement level, Scientist Turner endeavored to organize his various departments, particularly considering the swiftly approaching deadline for this project. As the doors snapped open, he pressed a button on his communicator. “Dr. Alcott, meet me in the preparation room. I need to see you immediately.”
On the other end, Turner could hear a muted, “Yes, sir. I’ll be down right away.” As the dapper scientist walked purposefully into the preparation room, he could see hundreds of platinum darlings, all ready to be connected to the elemental generators. Slowly, the impatient science officer began to stew as he witnessed the backlog of contestants waiting to be processed.
Grabbing one worker by the shirt, he exclaimed, “What is taking you guys so long! We need these contestants loaded into the control room immediately!” The poor employee began to turn pale as he buckled under the pressure. “Point out your supervisor,” commanded Turner harshly. As the terrified employee singled out his lethargic superior, Scientist Turner released his determined grip on the one employee, immediately reapplying his firm grasp on the supervisor instead. “I demand results! I want to know why your department is behind schedule.”
The tall supervisor began to feel as miniscule as a mosquito as Scientist Turner continued to berate him. Stammering, the supervisor attempted to defend himself. “I beg your pardon, sir, but there’s no way we can speed things up in here. We need to catalogue all of the items, log the contestants within our records, then deliver them to the control room.”
With a vein beginning to throb in his temple, Turner screamed, “I know what procedures are involved! I wrote the damn procedures!” Spinning the ignorant supervisor around to face his loitering staff, Turner continued. “These platinum statues only have one item to store, and that is the identification necklace. It should only take three minutes, tops, to log down the entrant’s name, throw the necklace in a box, and wheel the individual into the control room.” In disgust, Scientist Turner threw the hapless supervisor to the ground. Aiming a contraption at the blubbering idiot, he instantly froze the man in his tracks, locking a strange contortion of worry on his plastic arms and legs. The odd look of confused surprise displayed on his unmoving facial features quickly began to calm before flexing and tightening, leaving a disturbingly peaceful expression on his rigid face, despite the unusual and painful positioning of his stricken body. A look of pure shock began to creep across the faces of the many workers gathered around as they witnessed their supervisor’s swift transformation into a lifeless department store mannequin.
Turning his attention back to the first employee, Turner said abruptly, “How about a promotion, son?” The young man simply nodded affirmatively, far too frightened to turn down the assignment. “Good. Then your only mission is to shuffle these contestants through the system as quickly as possible. Do you think you can handle that?”
Saluting, the timid man said, “Yes, sir!”
“Alright, then, get started on your former boss. And all the time remember, if you fail me as he did, the same results shall await you!” Immediately, the groveling man leapt into action, promptly preparing his previous supervisor for his unexpected stay in the control room.
As Scientist Turner spun around to face the other thirty workers, he could instantly see the results of his aggressive leadership. Just as he began to cool off, Dr. Alcott quickly ran out of the elevator.
“Dr. Alcott,” hollered the determined scientist, “you’d better have some good news for me, or I’ll feed your entrails to a pack of wolves!” The nervous doctor quickly followed his authoritative superior into the control room. Once they were out of earshot range, Turner asked his weary doctor, “Where do we stand on Project Genesis?”
Slowly and deliberately, the quivering doctor produced a series of charts. Turner impatiently slapped the meager documents out of Dr. Alcott’s hand, sending them flying to the floor. “Okay, I guess I don’t need visual aids,” whispered the renowned geneticist. After clearing his throat, he continued, “Mr. Turner, we’ve finally been able to merge Valerian tissue and human tissue into one hybrid DNA. This was the most difficult step, since, as you know, interspecies commingling was previously thought to be impossible.”
“Get on with it!” shouted Scientist Turner in disgust. “You know I don’t have much time left for discussion. Have you been able to fertilize the human eggs using the Valerian genes, yes or no?”
“Yes,” sputtered the exasperated doctor. “My team is currently pumping out thousands of hybrid eggs at this very moment.”
Breathing a noticeable sigh of relief, Scientist Turner instantly felt a massive weight lifted from his shoulders. Already, he very much feared his anticipated progress report for Emperor Titus, especially considering how little headway had been made regarding the investigation of the activities in the thorn fields. Turning his attention back to the fidgeting Dr. Alcott, he asked plainly, “So, when will the fertilized cells be ready for implantation?”
“Within seventy-two hours, sir.”
“Very good! Have your team step up their efforts. I want to begin Project Genesis once we are en route to Valeria,” boomed Scientist Turner.
“Yes, sir,” replied Dr. Alcott.
As the tired doctor turned to leave, Scientist Turner added triumphantly, “Tell your entire staff to expect a huge bonus if we can produce all of those eggs within seventy-two hours. That ought to lift their spirits a bit!”
“Will do, Mr. Turner.” Once the resourceful doctor finally departed, Scientist Turner worked his way over to Emperor Titus, still stationed at his throne.
From her fixed location, Lieutenant Godiva could easily hear the entire horrifying conversation between Scientist Turner and Dr. Alcott. Inside her petrified body, she instantly began to rage, as she understood why the Valerians needed so many women for their wicked plans. ‘They need surrogate mothers to grow their evil seeds,’ thought the angered warrior in disgust. Now realizing yet another dastardly facet of the Nil Corporation’s plans, she focused on her training with even more gusto, fully preparing to stop these nasty villains by any means necessary.
As Scientist Turner fully approached his corpulent king, he bowed respectfully, saying, “I have a status report, my lord.”
Emperor Titus maintained a distant expression on his puffy facial features as he said, “Understood, Scientist Turner. What news do you bring? Have you found the conspiring contestant, yet?”
Slowly grimacing, Turner replied meekly, “I’m sorry, my lord, we have yet to discover the identity of the competitor in question.”
“Why not!” screamed an enraged Emperor Titus. “Haven’t you analyzed the holograph footage yet?”
“Yes, my lord, we have studied the aired coverage and have found several gaps in the sequence of events in the thorn fields. I’ve discussed this matter with Katherine Ross, and I believe we may have a double agent working in the programming department. Personally, I suspect Eddie Lambert may have altered the footage to protect a pair of contestants,” said Scientist Turner aggressively. “I’m expecting the raw footage on my desk within an hour.”
“Do you think Eddie Lambert is deliberately tampering with the evidence?” asked Emperor Titus intensely.
“Without a doubt. He’s been offered final cut authority by us, so I don’t see how it can be anyone else.” Delicately, Scientist Turner leaned in closer to his adored leader, saying in a whisper, “I have my doubts about another contestant, my lord. This information may anger you, sir, but I need to discuss the matter with you.”
Immediately sensing his chief science officer’s fear, Emperor Titus asked, “What do you mean, Turner?”
“Well, my lord, I’m not certain how to say this gracefully. I’m afraid the missing footage involved your betrothed, the contestant named Niko.”
In an instant, Emperor Titus’ round face began to glow red with rage as he screamed, “How dare you accuse my beloved wife of indiscretion!”
“I’m not accusing her of anything yet, sir,” stammered Turner. “I simply want you to be aware of the possibilities.”
Emperor Titus began to seethe with anger as he studied the twitching face of his dutiful servant. Slowly calming his fury, he said, “I appreciate your concern for me, Turner. You’ve always been a loyal ally to me, so I’ll explain my actions to you alone. Thousands of years ago, a prophet named Gilgerath told of a great age of enlightenment and power on the planet Valeria. Within his sacred text, he described in vivid detail the story of a vanquished emperor who returns from exile to lead his people to glory. Also mentioned within the prophecy is a love affair between this king and a woman from a distant world, a holy pairing destined in the heavens. Gilgerath states that once the unlikely couple finally unite, the two distant worlds will become one, unleashing a vast energy within the cosmos. I firmly believe that I am destined to fulfill this glorious prophecy, and this woman is the chosen one, the goddess from Earth that will bind the human race forever within our clutches. Now do you understand why I feel vindication lies within this simple human girl?”
With a gentle smile, Scientist Turner replied, “Yes, my lord. I fully comprehend your fascination with this human now. I shall worship this human woman as your queen, Lord Titus.”
Returning Turner’s warm expression, Emperor Titus said, “Continue your investigation, Mr. Turner. I’m certain you shall uncover the truth with relentless efficiency.”
Saluting proudly, Turner replied, “Yes, my lord.” As he turned to leave, he lowered his head in worry. ‘I only pray you are correct, Lord Titus. For if your queen is involved in this conspiracy, the fate of us all will be put in serious jeopardy.’
In an instant, the communication unit on Scientist Turner’s wrist interrupted his worried thoughts. In a distant sounding crackle, a frantic voice yelled, “Turner. Scientist Turner, we’ve been hit, sir. In the deep tunnel.”
Turner immediately stopped in his tracks, replying, “What happened? Report, Chief Langdon!”
Over the grinding hiss, Langdon elaborated. “Sir, I sent two teams in to pursue the renegade craft that destroyed the tunnel security checkpoint. Attacking from the front and rear, we felt confident we had them effectively boxed in. The details are sketchy at this time, sir, but according to intelligence, all three vessels have been destroyed. The ensuing series of explosions blew through the cavern with immense heat and force, completely sealing the entrance of the tunnel under several tons of rock.”
In a horrific holler, Scientist Turner screamed, “This is terrible news! Have the intruders been eliminated?”
The popping voice replied, “No way to confirm that, sir. But according to the internal sensors, nothing could have survived that blast. With temperatures exceeding one thousand degrees, everyone inside either blew up or melted.”
Turner exclaimed in a huff, “Don’t tell me what you believe to be true, Langdon! Proof is all that matters to me! I order you to send in a team of your best combat soldiers immediately. Make certain they are wearing the new repulsor shield armor this time, all right? If there’s anyone still walking or crawling inside that tunnel, I want your team to neutralize them.” Pausing to catch his breath, Turner added maniacally, “Once the deep caverns have been secured, we’ll send in an excavation crew to clear the entrance. Don’t fail me on this duty, Langdon!”
“Aye, sir. I will lead the investigation team myself,” replied the chief of security with confidence.
As the line fell silent, Scientist Turner angrily slammed his fist into
the wall, sending sharp pain through his clenched hand. Still aggressively
convinced the Valerians would be victorious over these puny humans, he
nevertheless could not ignore the dual menace clouding his confident outlook.
After popping his knuckles back into alignment, the panicky commander thought
heatedly, ‘May the afterlife show you mercy, you insignificant humans for
I shall never grant you leniency.’
To be continued...
On to Part Fifteen