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DKUSAN14 hurt down here Frowning wondered


DARKSIDE: The United States of Anarchy; "The Slither-Thing."

[Version Control : A, minor changes.]

[Disclaimer: This text is intended for adult audiences, if you are
not of age to view it, be somewhere else. This series of stories
explores the darker aspects of the human experience, if that might
offend you, then you were warned, and it isn't my problem. -- KTM]

Anything can happen in the Multiverse. Even a world that
is much like ours, but which somehow... isn't. A world that is a
magnet for the blackness in the dreams and souls of humankind. A
world known as: The Darkside.

The World's economic system depends on a delicate
interlocking system of mutual trust and financial debt. When
those bonds shattered, the governments and monetary institutions
crumbled. Even the most idealistic civil servants left their jobs
when their families were gripped with hunger. The Survivors of
the Chaos would come to call their nation the United States of
Chapter 14. "The Slither-Thing." -- by KTM.
"I'd like to propose a toast," Robert said, raising his glass
of champaign. "Let's drink in honor of the strongest and most
beautiful telepath yet to grace my halls. To Tari Bates!"
"To Tari Bates," his other dinner guests repeated, Rebecca
among them. She and the others sat at a large ornate table in the
formal dining room of the Palace. All the table settings were of the
highest quality. Several of the Palace orphans in their immaculate
Imperial Page uniforms waited on the guests as a way to earn extra
"You set a fine table, my lord," Tari said. Robert gave her a
pleased smile as his Page, Alyssa, refreshed his drink. The telepath
sensed that he thought he was getting away with something. He was
positively radiating it.
"It's my way of welcoming you to the Palace, dear Tari," he
said, at his most charming. "I have a great need for telepaths,
especially those of premiere rank, such as yourself. I would like to
acquire your services."
"I'm aware of that," she said. "The Testifier's Trial made
news both in and out of your Empire. I'm willing to consider your
offer, but you'll find I'm quite particular."
"Particular in what fashion?" he said, a dark eyebrow arched.
He chose not to notice the small chuckle Joanne tried to conceal
behind her hand.
"I won't be joining your Power Team," she said. "However, I am
interested in a career as an Imperial Court Telepath."
"You've been talking to Rebecca," Robert accused with a smile.
"I had to talk to someone while you were flirting with Sondra,"
the smile Tari returned was dazzling.
The Healer raised her glass to the guest of honor, in laughing
acknowledgment of her joke. Every time Robert drank from his glass,
he exercised something akin to a healer function, but she couldn't
quite tell what.
Rebecca knew exactly what he was doing. He was converting the
alcoholic content of the champaign into grape juice, or something
"What I'd really like," Tari said, "is to have you form a
professional organization to study and promote psionic gifts. I've
already agreed to help Lady Web become fully active as a telepath."
She nodded to Joanne.
"The 'Psi-Corps'?" Robert grinned. He smiled his thanks to
Alyssa as she served him a new course.
"Hardly," Tari said. "More like a Psionics Institute, as one
of the Towers of your government. I think that the Tower's color
should be Silver."
"A Silver Tower, dedicated to Psionics," he mused. "Very
"Yes," she said. "If you want me to identify and train new
telepaths and other psis, as well as encourage more to join Imperial
service, an Imperial Institute is the logical structure."
"I must say I like that idea," Robert said. "But I'm not
entirely convinced we need a Tower for it. We've already identified
several on the Power Team as psionics, instead of being Powers. When
I first started this gig, I found three sources of extraordinary
power in the human race. Latent Powers, active, but minor, psionic
gifts, and some other active gift I haven't been able to track down
"Oh, yes," Rebecca said. "Those genetic potentials you boosted
into full strength without knowing what you were doing, or how it
would affect our society."
"That's right... Hey, waitaminute," Robert frowned.
"Rebecca..." he said in gently warning tone. This was not the time
or place for one of their little fights.
"Then I, for one, owe you my thanks," Sondra said. "I'm sure
Tari feels the same way. I'm glad we posses these amazing powers.
Don't you agree, Rebecca?"
"Oh, I'm not responsible for her," Robert said, at almost the
same moment she denied that possibility as well.
"At least you two agree on that much," Sondra laughed.
"However, I want to know if Healers are as important to your Empire
as those with psionics? I have already identified a few other
Healers, and I've begun training them."
"One could make the argument that Healers are a kind of
psionic," Tari said, "in which case they'd fall under the Silver
"Perhaps," Sondra said. "But a Healer's province is the health
of the body, where a telepath primarily affects the mind."
"Ladies," Robert said, raising his hands, "please. You've
convinced me. I like what you said, Sondra. There shall be a tower
for each of you, but only if you broaden your focus a little. Your
Gold Tower, Sondra, will be an Institute to study and train Healers,
and if you agree, it will also serve as my Ministry of Health.
Okay?" She nodded her head in agreement.
"I'll want discretion over regular doctors, and the AMA," she
said. "And I think you should know that I thought Joycelin Elders
had the right idea." He cocked his head thoughtfully a little, and
then said, "Granted, and... fairly warned."
He turned to Tari. "And your Silver Tower Psionics Institute
is approved, Tari, if you'll help by overseeing a Ministry of Mental
Health." His guest smiled, and offered her hand to shake on it.
Robert said, "I'd like you to help with the Shockies."
"Pardon?" she said, looking politely confused.
"That's what my Justice agents call them," he explained. "They
are people who've lost touch with the changing times. 'Future Shock
Victims' is the full description. There have always been people like
that, but now there's a name for them, because there seems to be a
lot more of them around these days."
"I can certainly see what I can do, Robert," Tari said.
Robert nodded, and looked off, as a dark pulse flickered around
him. "Your Towers have been raised, Ladies. If we're done here, we
can go to the main tower and view them." Robert and his guests left
the table, to continue their discussions elsewhere. Alyssa informed
the kitchen staff it was time to clean up, then she and the other
Pages collapsed in the chairs, off-duty at last.

Alyssa was privileged among the Palace orphans. They were the
kids from the orphanage of Robert's home town. The Dark man had
brought them into the Palace the day he took over. He created a safe
place for them, and set up a school in the Palace for their
education. They were supervised and cared for, and given the
opportunity to earn money in odd jobs around the Palace. [USAN 4]
After her school work was done, she gladly donned the cheery
yellow tabard of a Court Page. Mostly it was great fun. She got
compliments and tips, and the kitchens were always open for an extra
snack for those on duty. The only bad thing that had happened was
when the big bully Titan got his mits on her. She'd never been so
scared in her life as when he made her suck his 'thing'. It was so
gross! [USAN 10]
After that she was treated differently, but in a nice way. If
Lord Robert needed a Page, he always asked for her. He put an extra
badge on her tabard to show she was HIS personal Page. That was neat
at first, and so was the unique option she had to decline chores that
other Pages would have to do. Mrs. Mayors, the guardian who was
assigned to the orphans said that Robert spoiled her out of a sense
of guilt, but Alyssa wasn't complaining.
Lately, though, it had been a little boring. He might not call
on her for days, or even weeks at a time. If she didn't have to do
the more tiresome duties a Page usually had to do, she wasn't gonna
do it. It was tough sometimes, to while away the time that she was
still getting her stipend for, but she was managing.
She'd tried mapping the Palace, but that gave her a headache.
The fourth or fifth time she mapped a section, only to have part of
the previous or next section overlap the same space at the same time,
she'd gone to Science Minister Liz Tyler with her findings. Liz said
she should probably stop trying. The Palace was, in her opinion,
'topologically irrelevant', whatever that meant. Rebecca said her it
was sort of like Narnia, where the inside was bigger than the
outside. That was something Alyssa could sort of understand. It was
still fun to explore, though.
Recently, she'd been exploring the lower areas of the Palace.
She'd overheard Rebecca talk about Robert's dungeon, and she thought
that seeing a real dungeon would be cool. She was on a hot tip
today. The staff had complained about the vermin that was getting
into the Palace from the caves. Robert got rid of the mice and the
bugs, and put up a sort of force shield to keep the vermin out. He
talked about sealing them off completely, on Rebecca's
recommendations, but hadn't actually done that yet.
When she got there, she thought it was too late. There was a
great blue archway over a sharp boundary between black marble and the
partly dressed rocks. Looking at it carefully, she didn't see any
controls or anything on the arch, so gingerly she ducked through it.
She felt a crawling sensation, like she'd walked through invisible
jello, but that was all. This might be her only chance to look
around down here, so she'd better make the best of it.
She was ready to rock and roll. She had some rope and some
breakfast bars. Her flashlight was the big heavy kind that held four
d-cells; serviceable as a club. It was icky and damp in the caves,
but it was warmer than the mid-Spring Iowa hill country on the
surface. It didn't take long before she had her light jacket tied
around her waist.
The stones were half rough, and half smooth and shaped. As she
went deeper in the caves, she began to feel less creeped out by the
inky shadows that lurked between the rock formations. Flows of rock
poured down the walls, stony ripples forever frozen in place. The
place was starting to have its own kind of beauty to her, until she
saw the long narrow paw-print in the dust.
Fighting down a shudder, she put her sneaker next to the print.
It looked like a rodent's paw, but from heel to the longest toe, it
was nearly as long as her whole shoe. How in the world did mice the
size of dogs get down her? She wondered if she'd have the guts to
ask Robert about it when she got back topside.
She almost left then, but she uncapped her pepper spray, and
put it back in her pocket. The weight of the flashlight was
comforting in her hand, and after a snack she felt ready to carry on.
There were signs of the Dark man's shaping among the natural cave
features. In one area, she saw a thick fluted pillar that reached up
through the ceiling, obviously intended to support the masses of
black stone above. There were bats in this area; big ones. But they
didn't seem impossibly big, so she continued exploring.
There were strange noises down here, too. Dripping water, and
muted echoes of movements would come to her from unexpected
directions. Once she thought she heard squeaking, as from a large
rodent, and turned away. There was a persistent kind of moss or mold
in these chambers, and some of them oozed a slime that dribbled down
the walls and puddled on the ground.
When she found the slime pool with the stripped and twisted
skeleton of the giant mouse-like creature, that was enough for her.
She turned to leave, but it was already much too late...

She was found wandering aimless and nude in the lower Palace
the next day by a security guard, coated with a mucus slime. She was
in a daze as she was brought to the Royal Clinic. The Lady Healer,
Sondra, gave her an examination after helping clean her up, and
taking samples. Alyssa had obviously had sex, but she didn't
remember anything about it.
There were interesting chemical compounds both outside and
inside her body. The most disturbing thing of all was the...
growth...that was lodged inside her womb. It seemed to have human,
animal and plant genetic characteristics. Somehow the combination
was remaining stable, and the girl's body was nourishing it. Shaking
her head in confusion, the Healer settled her into the main ward, and
went to talk to Robert.
Alyssa was starting to feel a little shaky when Maggie Black
from across the ward checked in on her. The Page was moaning softly
despite her efforts not to. Robert's mom was very pregnant, and was
due at any time. "Are you alright, Alyssa?" Maggie said.
"I'm...Ok," the girl said, through chattering teeth. The woman
sat heavily on the bed beside her and tucked the blankets more firmly
around the child. "How are you, ma'am?" Alyssa said.
"Oh, I'm just fine," Maggie said softly. "My little boy is
almost ready to be born. It's been so long since I've had a baby of
my own," she smiled serenely. "I'm just here for a check up, Alyssa,
but thank you for asking."
"You're welcome, ma'am," the girl said faintly. Maggie just
tried to talk to her, and make her comfortable. Finally Alyssa
slipped into a light sleep.
While Maggie watched over the girl, Mariko Michaelson, Liz
Tyler's Science Deputy came into the clinic looking for Sondra.
"Shhhh," whispered Maggie Black. "Alyssa's sleeping. She's had a
rough day, poor dear." They moved away from the girl's bed, but
lingered near enough to hear if she called.
"Will she be alright?" the oriental woman asked.
"I'm sure she will, Mariko," Maggie said. "What do you need
Sondra for?"
"I want her to check a chemical formula for the anti-pregnancy
implants that we are developing," Mariko said. "Once we complete
this, then girls won't have to worry about contraceptives that don't
always work, and will only become pregnant if they want to be."
"That's a good idea," Maggie said. "My departed husband had a
gift for being fertile, even though preventative measures were taken.
I think he wished we'd had more children. How long will the implants
last, and how will you know if they stop working?"
"They're implanted in the forearm, just inside the elbow,"
Mariko said. "They last five years, and have little lights that tell
your status. Green for safe, yellow for caution, and red for
fertile." She patted Maggie's arm. "We're making another sort of
implant to monitor pregnancies, that will warn if anything is going
wrong with the mother or child."
From the clinic's main entry hall, they could hear voices.
"She's this way, Robert," Sondra said. "I really have no idea what
she ran into, but I thought you should know about it. Maybe Tari can
help her remember what happened."
"I think her condition sounds familiar," Rebecca said, "but
I'll have to check her to see."
"You've seen something like this before, Rebecca?" Robert's
smooth baritone was getting closer. "Alyssa!"
Alyssa's eyes snapped open and she sat up. "Here, sir!" she
said. Robert strode into the ward, and looked over at her. The girl swung out of bed and burrowed into his arms.
"It's ok, sweetheart," Robert said. His face took on a
quizzical look as he sat down on the bed with the girl firmly wrapped
around him. There was a touch of darkness in the girl, but he
certainly didn't put it there. Rebecca touched her shoulder, and
Alyssa tried to squirm away from her. Rebecca's eyes narrowed, but
as her pale blue eyes locked with Robert's midnight black, he gave a
little 'I didn't do it' shrug.
"Alyssa," Rebecca said. "It's important that you tell us what
happened to you."
"I... I can't remember," she half sobbed. "I'm sorry."
"Let me help," said Tari, who had been quiet until now. Her
eyes glinted strangely. "Sondra?" she said. "Her short term memory
seems to be confused. Are there chemicals in her brain that are
affecting her?"
"I'll see," Sondra said. "Yes, but they are very complex, and
she seems to have become partly dependant on some of them, even after
only one exposure. Sondra touched her shoulders, and though the girl shivered, she didn't pull away. The healer's hands glowed, and Tari
managed to unlock the memories.
With a gasp, Alyssa began crying into Robert's shoulder. He
patted her awkwardly, frowning in concern. "I remember now," she
said. "It was awful!"
"Tell us, Alyssa," Rebecca said. Alyssa told them who she'd
gone to explore the caves, and had found the arches weren't sealed
yet. She found big rodents and... something else.

She remembered... A hissing sound, and a barely glimpsed
movement to the right caused her to spin to that direction, and the
Slither-thing took her from the left. Her screams echoed as slick
ropy tentacles wrapped around her limbs, and spread her wide, while
pulling her closer to the wall.
Her flashlight was pushed from her hand, but from its reflected
glow, she saw a large amorphous mass creep down from a niche high in
the wall, and ooze to her. There were reddish veins through it, and
parts that looked greenish like a plant.
"No!" she screamed. Sticky tendrils threaded along her exposed
skin at her wrists, neck, and ankles, to crawl under her clothes to
the rest of her body. She thought she'd die as they brushed over her
tight nipples, and burrowed beneath her panties, seeking her warm
Buttons popped on her shirt as she was slowly but surely
enveloped by... what ever it was. It was incredibly strong she
discovered, as she futilely fought its grasp. The thing held her
firmly, and flexed effortlessly to shred her clothing off her. It
wasn't long before she was naked.
Her tears and cries were in vain, she knew. Mrs. Mayors
wouldn't even start looking for her for hours. She was known for
wandering off, and now she was paying for it. She was totally alone.
She gasped as thorns?/teeth? drew blood along one arm, and soft
tendrils smoothed over the punctures, tasting her. The wound was
closed with a coating of slime. Fine tendrils patiently explored
every millimeter of her. She tried to thrash her head when they
pushed into her ears, but her head was held too firmly to allow it.
Alyssa nearly lost it when tendrils pressed against her eyes,
and pushed up her nostrils. She opened her mouth to gasp for air,
and a pseudopod thrust its way down her throat. She convulsed, until
she realized the narrow tendrils pushed into her sinuses were
providing her air. She didn't understand why. All she could think
of was the polished mouse skeleton she'd seen. Why allow her to
breathe unless it meant to digest her alive? Or, maybe it wasn't
going to kill her.
She was coated with the creature now. It was a warm moist
weight, and a feeling of strange well-being and lethargy began to
fill her. Tendrils idly played with the erectile tissue of her
nipples and clitoris. The slick tendrils had little difficulty
pushing into her vagina and anus. She even found the invasion was
beginning to feel pleasurable. Her will to resist the inevitable was
slowly eroding.
She thought she might have lost consciousness then, or she was
too out of it to care when the tendrils infused her totally. She
experienced a memory that wasn't hers, of a painful white power that
discouraged her... no... it, from completing an exploration of
another human creature. Dimly she made the connection of white power
to Rebecca, and she pictured the woman using it. A feeling of
surprise accompanied a sense of agreement, and a image of Rebecca
returned to her, enwrapped by the Slither-thing, just as she was.
A spike of a pain stabbed her head suddenly, followed by a
sympathetic lurching of the creature both in and outside of her. The
impressions from the creature clarified in her mind. It seemed the
Slither-thing had a mind of sorts, and a memory.
There were feelings of lurking down here forever in the peaceful
darkness. Of being inexorably called and cajoled by the black Rod as
it raged at its imprisonment, only to be castigated for its
inadequacies. The Slither-thing could reach the Rod, but it never
had enough Will to do much with it. Each time it tried, it changed a
little, becoming more what the Rod wanted, but then failing to free
the artifact from its prison.
The Rod altered the vermin as well, creating the giant
specimens in the Caverns. The Thing absorbed attributes from them,
including their Rod enhanced intellect, bettering itself. She
guessed the mice were almost of ape-like intelligence, and the
Slither-thing was nearly sapient in its mentality.
She sensed it intended to partake of her genetic qualities, and
that it wanted to spawn with her. Alyssa was unsure. She was only
14, and she felt that was too young to have a child. The mind melded
to her's was more confident now, and it assured her that the
offspring would be half like her, and half like itself. That meant
that it would be easy for her to bear and deliver the spawn.
Still, she hesitated, but before she quite refused, it
stimulated her nipples again. Tendrils rubbed against her clit and
desire flooded her. A large tendrils began sliding in and out of her
vagina. It wasn't playing fair, she complained silently.
Perhaps not, the mind of the thing agreed, but wasn't the
feelings worth it? Didn't she deserve a woman's pleasure?
Tingles washed over her, from touch and artful chemicals
entering her skin, setting her nerves aglow. With a sigh, she
surrendered. How bad could it be?
All of her erogenous zones were engaged at once. She felt
tendrils gripping her breasts, sucking her earlobes, and squeezing
her ass. A ropy strand moved in front of her face, dripping sweet
fluid onto her lips. She opened her mouth and started suckling on
it. The large tentacle still pumped steadily in her cunt, while a
smaller one stimulated her anus.
The sweet fluid she swallowed made her feel tingly and
uninhibited. She felt a burning wave of pleasure begin to slowly
build. The penis-tendril fucked her with an easy rhythm, forcing its
way deeper. A pressure developed inside her, and she wondered why.
Your womb is being opened, the thing told her. You shouldn't
be concerned about it.
There was a dull wrench, and it was deeper still inside her.
Watch, it told her. Our child enters you. The main tendril bulged
at it's root, as a soft lump the size of a tennis ball entered the
tentacle from the thing's main body. Slowly the lump traveled from
the thing to where she was still being busily fucked by the tendril.
She could tell when it got to the part that was reaming her,
because the shaft swelled considerably. She could feel it slide
along the length of the tube, and finally slip inside her womb. At
that, the tendril withdrew from her uterus. It was intensely
exciting to know she would become pregnant by this. Somehow she
trusted the thing, and now looked forward to bearing the spawn.
Her building orgasm began to crest. The thing covered her with
its wet weight, fucking her urgently as it strove to give her
pleasure. Every hole was filled, and every sensitive part of her was
given attention. The sweet nectar was so satisfying and erotic.
When it came, the orgasm crashed on her like a ton of bricks. It was
one intense moment of echoing screams of ecstacy, and then utter
Much later, she awoke. She was cradled warmly in an ultimately
responsive 'water bed', or so it felt. She stretched languorously,
and felt a soft presence in her vagina. With a start she remembered;
the caves, and the Thing! What had she done? She shuddered
A query came to her, did she thirst?
"Yes," she said. A wet nipple touched her lips, and with only
a little hesitation, she drank. The shaft inside her began to slowly
fuck her again, and tiny mouths attached to her nipples and clitoris.
She couldn't resist such attention, and she gave herself to it.
After a good cum, she started to fend it off.
What was wrong? it wondered.
"I have to go back to the Palace," Alyssa sad. "They'll be
looking for me soon, and if Robert finds you with me before I can
explain, he'll destroy you."
You cannot leave, it insisted, you bear our young.
"I'll come back," she said, "I promise." She sensed its
reluctance, but she convinced it that its very existence was at
stake. Slowly she walked to the gateway, accompanied by the Slither-
thing, and some of its rodent companions. She was so comfortable in
its presence, that she didn't notice she was nude until her bare feet
began to chill on the marble floors. Without it being there beside
her, she became confused and forgetful. This was how the guard found
her, hours ago.

"It's the thing that I encountered in the dungeon," Rebecca
said. "I told you to seal the Palace from the Caves."
"I didn't know it was down there," Robert said. "Why didn't
you ever mention it before?"
"I thought you knew," she said. "That it was one of the
torments you'd put there for me."
"The Rod made it," Alyssa said in a whisper. "A long time ago.
That's what it told me..."
"I don't know everything about the Rod's history," Robert said.
"But what she says is possible. I'll get on sealing the caves right
"Maybe you should wait a little bit," Maggie said, tight
lipped. It's time. Your son wants to be born." Her hands held her
tight belly as Sondra scanned her.
"Mom?" Robert said, in shock. Then he bit his lip. It had
been nine months, and he still hadn't told her who he really was.
"It's ok, Robbie," she said through happy tears. "Susan told
me months ago who you were. I... oh! I've known for ages who the
father of my baby is, and as long as he's healthy, I don't care."
"And impatient to be out, it seems," Sondra said. "If we could
have some room?" The healer prepped Robert's mother for labor, while
Robert called his sister to come to the clinic. As Rebecca looked
on, Maggie's son and daughter sat beside her and held her hands.
Mariko and Tari, finding they weren't asked to leave, sat on a nearby
bed and watched.
Alyssa laid quietly, shaky from telling her story. Without
Robert holding her, she felt cold and abandoned. She listened to the
way Maggie strained through her labor, even with the support of
Robert, Rebecca and Sondra. Her hands drifted down to her own belly,
knowing it would be easier for her than Maggie. Unnoticed, she
slipped out of the clinic, and made her way to the Caves. She could
feel it waiting for her.
She wanted to taste its nectar again, and feel its tendrils
deep inside her. When she passed through the gateway, it was there
for her. She stripped off her clothes and knelt for it, spreading
her arms wide to accept its envelopment once more.

It was hours before Robert managed to get down to the Caves.
He was a little bemused at the memory of little Henry, after his
dad's middle name. The baby was so small and soft, so delicate in
his hands. The Dark man was also concerned about Alyssa. The girl disappeared from the clinic during the excitement, and she wasn't
in her rooms. He'd come to close the access to the caves, so no
one else would get hurt down here. Frowning, he wondered if he
should just seal the Palace off from below, completely.
"My lord," Alyssa said from the darkness. "Please don't." He
turned, stepping beyond the archway to see her. She stood sheathed
in a gelatinous, multicolored substance. In color it was mixed
chunks of lime, orange, and cherry Jello, in a pea soup base. It
covered her from feet to neck, and she looked comfortable wearing it.
The Rod flared in his hand, and Robert got the impression if he had
been female, the Rod wouldn't have been the only thing he got that
He could feel the answering darkness of the thing, but like he
saw in himself, he knew that 'darkness' didn't always mean evil. "Is
that the thing that got you?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," she said, "but don't hurt it."
"I'd have to take it off you first," he said. He thought at
Rebecca. 'I could use you down here, can I transport you?' He
sensed her agreement, and even as she began speaking she appeared.
"Is that in a professional, or a personal capacity?" she said.
He supposed she wouldn't be Rebecca without the constant barbs
at him. He jerked his thumb at Alyssa and the creature.
"Professional," he said. Its covering seemed noticeably thinner on
the side of the girl nearest to Rebecca, he noticed.
"I can get it off you," Rebecca said.
"That's ok," Alyssa said, "I like it." She held out her hand,
and the creature ran along her arm to pour off to the ground from her
palm. For a moment they were separated, and she stood nude. Then it
oozed to her along the ground, and it covered her again from the feet
"It's not good for you," Rebecca said, pleading with her.
"Why?" the girl said. "Because you didn't like it? Because it
didn't like you? It's never hurt me, and it never will." She ran
her hand over the coating on her chest, and smiled.
"Maybe it's best if you left it alone," Robert said. "It's
kinda... gross."
"It can't help that," she said. "But it's like a drug. I need
what it gives me. I like what it does to me... sexually. And I feel
connected to it, like I'm a part of it. I can hear it in my head,
talking to me."
Robert hummed, and examined the pair closely. A definite
symbiotic relationship existed between them, as far as he could see.
Chemically, physically, and emotionally, they needed each other. He
didn't think the girl could function without it. "She's... sensitive
to it, Rebecca," he said. "I think parting them would kill her."
"Let me see," Rebecca said, but stopped when Alyssa shied away
from her upraised hands. "I won't hurt either of you," she promised.
"I know it's sentient now, and I respect you too much to harm it. I
didn't know what it was last time, and I defended myself."
Alyssa's eyes closed as she and the thing conferred. Slowly
she nodded her head. When the white energy was in passive mode, the
creature could stand it, but it visibly crawled over Alyssa's skin as
Rebecca scanned it.
"Sensitive is a good word for it, Robert," Rebecca said. "I
don't think she could do without it for long. She can't just live
down here, though."
"She'll be okay," Robert said. "I'll fix her up some quarters.
She'll still have to attend school until she tests out or graduates,
and the critter will have to... learn to conceal itself better."
"It's smart, sir," she said. "It'll learn. It wants me to
tell you that you should limit access with a gate, but not prevent
it. I need fresh air and sun, and it needs the caves. We can act as
your 'Dungeon Keeper', preventing unauthorized access, and
controlling the Rod's other creations.
Rebecca turned at a faint chitter, to see a baby mouse... the
size of a football, not including its tail. Her eyes widened in
surprise, it was so cute! But the mother lurked behind it, and the
protective menace of her pose took away much of the charm of the
"Well," she said to Robert, "Let's see if we can make some
adequate quarters for your Dungeon Keeper."
Alyssa smiled in relief. It looked like they were going to
stay together, and that was what they both wanted.

[Interlude: In the Observation Bubble of the Experiment.]

"You know ugly," the fey being called the Rider said. "It's
too bad you made that bet. Our girl Rebecca has had a lot more
influence on your guy than the other way around."
"There is still much time to pass, old Enemy." The creature
who answered her would have grossed out the Slither-thing for sheer
hideousness. "Impatience was always your failing. Your rhythms
pulse in time with those of the mortal ephemerals; a flaw of your
early upbringing." The insults having no effect, the creature got
back to the subject. "He has been influencing her as well, give him
time. It hasn't even been one planetary orbit yet. The Artifact's
effect is not complete."
"Yeah, whatever. I still think you're dreaming." Rider said.
Then she snickered suddenly. "But this last development was funny,
don't you think?"
"What do you mean?" the creature said.
"Well, your Artifact is Destructionist, like yourself, yet it
is responsible for CREATING a brand new life form. I think that's
simply too funny for words."
"Then you'll shut up about it, correct?" it hissed.
"Sure thing," Rider said, agreeably. "Grandpa."
It snarled in rage, but it didn't dare to break the truce,
under the Lightbringer's watchful eye.

[End Interlude: To the sound of a Creationist's mocking laughter.]
To be Continued...

September, 1998 -- Darkside: United States of Anarchy, Part 14 of 20.
Series Continues after #20 in Darkside: Imperial States of America.
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