Dark Hunger


Page 24



Lawson retrieved the other item he needed before he took stock of his appearance. He couldn’t leave in the stupid open-backed patient’s gown he was wearing, but fortunately Carl was about the same size. He tore the sleeve of the dead man’s shirt as he pulled it from his torso, and chuckled.


He’d have to be careful now that he was a god, or he’d tear the world apart.


He dressed, and then pulled a lab coat from a rack in the lab. It covered the bloodstained holes in the back of Carl’s shirt, although he didn’t expect to encounter any opposition when he left the building. Anyone who saw him—even Delaporte—would know he had transcended into a new being. They wouldn’t meddle with the god he had become.


Lawson walked down the hall, but instead of taking the elevator he went to the stairwell. After the first flight of stairs he stopped being careful and started jumping from landing to landing. His body sang with strength and ached with agility; by the time he reached the first floor he was laughing again.


As much as he would have liked to jog back to the city on foot, it would take too much time, so as soon as he left the building Lawson went to where he had left his Lexus.


The parking spot was empty, which puzzled him; he never lent his car to anyone. The old man must have had it moved to a better spot. He saw that Kirchner had locked his keys in his SUV again—the doctor was incredibly absentminded—and punched a fist through the driver’s-side window. After he brushed the glass off the seat, he got in and drove down to the main gate.


The security guard, a beefy ex-SEAL named Ted Evans, lowered the gate and stepped out of the shack. “Mr. Lawson. Mr. Delaporte just called down. He’d like you to get out of the vehicle and wait here, please.”


Lawson frowned. Ted Evans had played racquetball with him a few times in the company gym; he seemed like a nice guy. It was a real pity he didn’t understand what had happened to Lawson.


“Ted, I need you to give Don a message for me.” He climbed out, grabbed the guard by the throat, and threw him into the side of the shack. Before Ted could fall Lawson pinned him there, shoved the Glock into his belly, and emptied the clip into him. The guard left a wide swath of blood on the decorative brick as he slid down to the ground.


Lawson grabbed Ted’s hair and jerked on it in order to check his eyes and make sure he was done. He heard a quick, liquid tearing sound and straightened, still holding the guard’s dripping, decapitated head. “Sorry,” he murmured, dropping Ted’s head into his lap before he grinned. “Guess I don’t know my own strength.”


Lawson took the guard’s .32 from his holster, dropped the empty Glock onto the ground, and got back into the SUV. He drove through the lowered wooden arm, splintering it, and then turned off on the road toward the city.


He’d start at Jessa Bellamy’s house, he decided as he enjoyed the cool breeze coming in from the open window. She’d probably called one of her neighbors by now; women were always worried about silly shit like watering their plants and collecting their mail. He’d talk to each and every one of them until he found out where she was hiding. And then Jessa Bellamy was going to spend some time with him.


Extensive, quality time.


TalkBoard.com


Forums > Private > TAKYN Group > Lights Out


October Discussions


Topic: Miles to Go Before I Sleep


From: J


To: All members


I’ve had to relocate due to problems at home and will not be online until I’ve found a new place. I’m sorry for the short notice but circumstances beyond my control, etc.


A and V will take over as moderators for the site until I’m reconnected. If you don’t hear from me in a week it’s because I don’t have access anymore where I am.


Keep safe. If you have to move on, remember to turn the lights out before you go.


J


Jessa posted the message to the board before she logged off from the anonymous browser. She used the terminal’s erase function to remove the URL from the cookies list, but even if the computer was caching her session, no one would be able to track who accessed the discussion board and read the message.


Early on, the Takyn had established a private code and found random public-access sites where they could use it to leave messages for one another; it was one of the many security measures they’d put in place to protect the group. She logged off from the public library’s ISP she’d used to get to the board and returned to the files Matthias had opened for her.


The documentation he’d scanned was extensive and looked quite genuine, even down to the GenHance masthead and the highly technical content that each memo, report, and case file contained. It supported everything he had told her—that Jonah Genaro was using his corporation as a front, and the philanthropic work he publicly carried out to cure genetic birth defects was merely a smoke screen for a far darker purpose.


Jessa couldn’t decipher the laboratory test slips, but the doctor’s reports were written in layman’s terms. Ten years ago GenHance had obtained a sample of human cells that had contained what was referred to as an unidentified genetic anomaly. At first research carried out on the sample showed it to be infectious and lethal until a portion of the anomaly was eventually successfully removed from the cells via a complicated process of genetic splicing and cloning. More samples were obtained, and the entire process was repeated.


It had taken more than a decade to complete the experiment, but according to the final report—signed by Bradford Lawson himself—the resulting transerum contained aggressive blood, tissue, and bone cells that would infect the body like cancer, and then genetically alter the existing cells in order to provide very specific physical and mental enhancements—all without killing them in the process.


She read over three times Lawson’s predictions of what benefits the transerum would provide before she let it sink in. The transerum had been created in order to change normal people into superhumans, strengthening their immune systems to be almost inviolate at the same time it increased their physical strength tenfold. Then there were the notations on the specific endowments outside the realm of human ability: sensory acuteness, telekinesis, and precognition. There was also a list of abilities that sounded like something out of a science fiction novel: memory manipulation, sonic disruption, and body alteration.


Lawson seemed to believe that any human given the transerum would undergo a massive genetic change that would allow him or her to acquire these unnatural abilities; the only good thing in the report was that every nonhuman specimen they had tested the transerum on had died within minutes of being injected.


Jessa closed the file and sat back in the chair, rubbing her eyes. Over time the Takyn had discussed what they believed had changed them: genetic experiments performed on them when they were infants, possibly when they were in utero. What had been done to them was the worst sort of violation, but at least they had had the comfort of knowing from the few details they could put together that the experiments had stopped sometime in the eighties.


Judith, the youngest member of the group, had offered the most information on that; she had survived the destruction of one of the facilities where the Takyn had been kept as children, and her immediate escape had allowed her memory of the event to remain intact. Paracelsus, whose ability allowed him to see the past while handling physical objects, had traveled to other abandoned facilities around the country while searching for other Takyn. All he had discovered with his ability, however, was an orchestrated effort to shut down the program and disperse the test subjects into the general population.


Now GenHance intended to restart the experiment, and Matthias and his people were somehow involved.


If Matthias had created all this as part of some elaborate hoax in order to gain her trust, it was doomed to failure. Although the first time she had touched him hadn’t shown her anything useful, that had been under extreme circumstances with her life in danger, and fear must have affected her ability. Now that things were calm and there was no immediate threat, all she had to do was touch him and she felt sure that, as with everyone else, she would see the truth.


Her first instinct—always to run away from what she was—faded as she thought of what he had said in the car: You are not the first to be taken. If Matthias had found her, he might have identified some or all of the other Takyn. She couldn’t leave here until she discovered just how much he knew about them; to do otherwise would put her, the Takyn, and all the other children who had been part of the experiments at risk.


She would have to convince him that she was willing to go along with whatever he had planned. Gaining his trust was essential, but she’d have to go carefully. She couldn’t pretend to be cooperative too fast; he’d never believe her.


“Jessa,” Matthias said from behind her, making her jump. “Stop now. Rowan has prepared food for us.”


Game on.


“I’m not hungry.” In reality she was starving, but she couldn’t show any desire to sit down and have dinner with her kidnapper and his jailbait girlfriend. Not yet.


He reached past her and shut off the monitor. “You have questions. We will answer them over the meal.”


She swiveled around to face him. “Do you ever take ‘no’ for an answer?”


He smiled, and it transformed his features from austerely attractive to simply stunning. “Frequently.”


“You’ve gone to great lengths to collect all this information on GenHance’s illegal activities. I can’t imagine it was easy or cheap.” She gestured toward the computer. “Why not take it to the police? He can’t own everyone.”


“Jonah Genaro has such influence and wealth that it cannot be calculated,” he said. “What he does not presently control or own, he can buy.”


“In some countries I know that would give him unlimited immunity from prosecution, but this is America,” she reminded him. “We have a free press, and they love nothing more than the opportunity to tear down omnipotent moguls like Genaro.”


“He would never allow it.”



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