A New Partner
“Are you certain?”
The new leader of the Acolytes stood in the hall just outside of a room that broadcast the buzzing of arcane machinery throughout their underground hideout. Once again, she found herself in an uncomfortable conversation with one of her aides.
And once again, they spoke with greater knowledge of the situation, more surety of the Acolytes’ capabilities, a better understanding of how they operated, and more precedent. She could not argue with them; she could only turn them down.
“Yes,” she told her aide. The same way she had told them that no, she definitely did not want to perform experiments on living humans with demons. That bombing the Diet Building was not an option, no matter how many politicians in the nation might be trying to prevent them from succeeding.
That no, she didn't even know a single person who would cooperate with them; all she had brought to the Acolytes with her was right there. The clothes on her back, and the blessing of Joshua Hawke.
“Unfortunately,” her aide said in an even tone, “the process is already complete. She is alive and equipped with advanced demon summoning capabilities. Her internal logic is the same as our other bioweapons; the control codes you already know will function. Please take her with you.”
The leader’s eyes widened, and she raised her body, arched backwards, to stare her aide down. Dull resignation gave way to more powerful emotions; her hand twitched, swaying quickly but indecisively between where she carried her Armament and where she carried her cellphone.
“…No,” she said after the feeling had passed, lowering her arm slack with her hand falling to her hip. “I don’t need her.”
“Are you certain? She will be a highly intelligent, curious girl. She will be able to keep track of what you need to do and remind you of your own convictions. And she will make a powerful ally.”
Her aide paused. The sound of drills filled the silence, and the leader peered into the workshop where the Acolytes’ experimental homunculus was being made.
The silvery plasticine that formed legs, arms and a head was indeed molded into the shape of a young girl. Yet the incredibly complex nanotechnology that layered it in patterns of green silicate and purplish demon compound was beyond anything that had ever existed in a human body. Soon, it would be obscured by a skin-like outer shell, and all the world would be none the wiser as to the Acolytes’ new weapon.
“Having a powerful ally would be in your best interest,” said the aide, “as your main contribution to our organization at this point is through your battle prowess.”
She returned her attention to her aide.
“I said I don’t need her,” snapped the Acolytes’ leader, whose only companions were demons bound to serve. “Give her to someone else. We have plenty of loose cannons.”
Sensing that her decision would be final, even as she gently shook in front of them, her aide nodded vigorously. “Very well. I will give her to one of our finest agents, Carbon Black. He could use a dose of self-control, and together with her, he will likely exceed even you on the frontlines.”
The leader stopped shaking, lifting her head to glare daggers at her aide — or perhaps his neck.
“…I apologize,” her aide said, quieter than he had been during the entire conversation, before entering the workshop.
Silence. As she grimly appraised the floor, the Acolytes’ leader reminded herself that her actions would narrowly avert the apocalypse. When that finally happened, she could leave them for good.