Buzz’s limp body fell aside. Below him, the new LMO, the transgenic combination of my genes and the local fauna, gurgled blood into the snow. His flesh in ruins. I called his name, regretting that it had been more of a joke than a true name. Einstein. An ironic name for an idiot. I had made light of his weakness before he even had a chance to prove himself. Filth. That is what I am.

His eyes glassed over. Suddenly he was still.


Hard snow fell in clumps as I screamed. I shook him and begged him to fight. “Come back!” I yelled. “Don’t do this!” I shook him and screamed until I was horse. Shuddering, and bent over his lifeless body, I brushed the fresh snow from his chest, and started weeping. “I’m sorry,” I told him, cold tears streaming along my cheeks. Gently, I drew my hand over his eyes, closing them forever. I rocked back into the snow and palmed the tears away

I let my gaze fall to Buzz. A pool of blackness around his neck, his eyes still wide, his blood stained teeth eternally bared. I reached to touch him, but stopped short. I had broken a contract. Whatever I was, I was no longer the man who landed in this desert three months ago. The Lilith had changed me. So easily, so cunningly, that I hadn’t even recognized it. I didn’t feel any different, but my actions made it obvious. And Buzz had sensed that. He knew it. Buzz had ripped into my flesh just as easily as the LMO’s. He might have torn us all apart if I hadn’t….

Spegg’s shadow crept into view.

I glowered at the long, inhuman figure. “You did this,” I breathed, raising my eyes.

“You have completed the Ascension, Wayne Robertson.”

I leaped to my feet and pointed the blade at his neck. “I should kill you where you stand,” I growled, miming a rage that I could not summon.

Spegg gently touched my forearm and lowered the weapon. “You could no more kill me now than you could kill yourself. We are bound.”

The knife dropped into the snow, my quick breaths freezing into little clouds.

“The Lilith is not a drug, Wayne. It is a process. My life and your life. We are wound together. Imprinted, if you like. This is the strongest bond two beings may have.”

Spegg laid a hand on my shoulder. He gestured to the bodies of Buzz and Einstein.

“And this tragedy was the culmination of that process. A necessary step to seal our lasting bond. As horrible as it may seem, it had to be done.”

I gasped. “Wait. Are you telling me that you set this whole thing up?”

Spegg cast his eyes down, for a moment, then returned. “The LMO was malformed. He never would have Enlightened. His body and his mind. He was simple and weak. I knew it would be true, even before I created him. We simply do not have the proper tools in this place to create a superior Transgenic.

“As for Buzz,” he continued, “The dog who you loved, who you cared for, your companion… severing that kind of attachment in a manner such as this has a profound emotional consequence. It could take a lifetime to erase the guilt from such an event. But the Lilith has exploited that guilt. Consumed it, and supplanted it, for the sake of this trust.”

I turned away, the snow coiling around us.

“We will move on, Robertson,” Spegg continued. “There will be more LMO. Many more. And you will father them all.”

I looked back at his long, bizarre face, his dark, bulging black eyes that never blinked. He was right. I felt a profound connection with him. I would follow him. I would do whatever he wanted. And I knew he would do the same for me. I nodded, lost in thought. This was a new beginning. The future suddenly unrolled and glimmered before my eyes. You will father them all.

Suddenly there was a crack of thunder. We jerked our heads toward the sky. It was filled with fire. Ships. A dozen… or more, screaming through the atmosphere, thick, black smoke roiling in their wake.

“Oh, my God.”

Spegg looked back at me and grinned. “Brother, our people have arrived.”