Thunk. The lift had finally reached the end of its journey and Lore was definitely now gone. Destiny began to rifle through the old papers the doctor had stacked from ground to ceiling. The room was deceptively large with the opening area making up less than a quarter of Tolan’s lab. Destiny approached his desk and began to search the drawers. At the top of the first drawer was a framed image. Destiny held it into the light.
“Those were the days.” Tolan briefly turned his head before returning to his search. “That was the last group I put through training before I came here.”
“Hang on. Who’s that?” Destiny skipped over to Tolan and hovered her finger over a pair of familiar faces.
“That’s Lore and his at the time girlfriend, Misha.”
“Lore… That explains a lot.” Destiny couldn’t take her eyes off of the photo. “You know what happened between those two?”
“Everyone heard the rumours. A newly designated Inquisitor had thawed the heart of the icy second in command and by the time that photo was taken, she had been promoted and her previous superior was nowhere to be seen.” Tolan paused. “Here it is. These pages look like they were torn from a book or something.”
“Yeah, yeah. We’ve got the book back on the ship.” Destiny still had her eyes on the younger Lore. “So, tell us about them?”
“Fine. I only know bits though.” Destiny gave him a look that indicated that she didn’t really care she just wanted the gossip. “Lore or Loren as they were known back then was the newest Inquisitor and he was here to evaluate our cloning program. It wasn’t as widespread then as it is now and he was only really here to test the clones but he took a shining to a young leftenant commander.”
“Undulia!” Destiny interrupted.
“Yes, Undulia. She was supposed to show him to his quarters and nothing else but instead, she marched him straight to my office to examine my research. He liked that. Next day he requested her presence as his personal attaché and, being an Inquisitor, he got her so the three of them, Lore, Undulia and the commander at the time, Rhys I think, were stomping around my labs and the clone education centres critiquing my work. This lasted about a week and then, no more Rhys and Undulia had an extra stripe on her collar.”
“What happened to Rhys?”
“Turns out he was aiding a terrorist faction on the orders of an unknown benefactor. They never caught him but afterwards Rhys never said anything just that time was his ally. Fine man, shame. Anyway, Lore and Undulia spent three weeks poking and prodding my clones before I get any attention. He sits me down and smiles at me, that was all. He just smiled. It was the first time I had seen his face properly. He always wore his helmet. He picked up his helmet and before putting it back on he asked how many I could make in a year. I told him my department, with its current funding could only make a hundred a year but with the appropriate time and resources we could multiply that exponentially. He nodded, put his helmet on and left. Within the hour my inbox was full of resource allocation forms and transfer statements. Like that, my department was now the centre of the UEP’s cloning program.”
“So was that when Lore asked for the clones?”
“No. That was the odd part. Lore left. He gave Misha his shoulder pads and gauntlets, don’t quite know why but he did then he left. Three weeks later and the week before I got found out they showed up in my house. They were older but they didn’t really look it. They handed me a case of Rel and said I’m going to need a few good clones and no stupid questions. They then gave me a gene sample and told me to tell no one of our deal. Those soldiers you saw cost Lore one point three million Rel each, including armour and training. And not to sound biased but I reckon they’re going to be worth every Rel.”
“So Lore came back to commission them?”
“That’s what was odd. They came back, ring on their finger and gene sample in hand but Undulia wasn’t with anyone.”
“Did you test the sample?” Tolan looked offended.
“Of course I did. It was a hybrid species but like nothing I’d ever seen before. I could tell the DNA had come from two different species but it had mutated in such a way that it had become almost its own species. A sub-species of sorts.”
“A sub-species of what though?” Destiny was edging closer to Tolan.
“Human and Quatarrian. Turns out Quatarrian DNA is incredibly violent in the way it codes. It’s almost Darwinistic. It takes advantageous aspects from any DNA it’s exposed to and integrates it into its own structure. As if it were always like that. If a mother was to have one of my clones as her child then she too might be affected by the DNA changes.”
“A Human and a Quatarrian…” Destiny mumbled.
“Shame about their extinction really. I would have loved to have met a true Quatarrian warrior. While my clones share some common ancestry, they imagine they are a far cry from their progenitors.”
“Yeah…” Destiny responded deep in thought.
“Well, here’s those pages. Hope they’re what you’re looking for.”
Destiny looked at the papers and saw they matched those from Lore’s book. They detailed the history of the wings and their believed importance in the cultures and mythos of many peoples. The top of the page drew Destiny’s eyes.
The creation of the Wings of the Reaper is veiled in mystery, however archaeologists and chronologists have reason to believe they were potentially used as a ceremonial form of dress in the Quatarrian religion however, owing to their extinction this is impossible to confirm.
“I’ve got to get this to Lore. Thanks… For everything.” Destiny shouted over her shoulder as she ran for the lift.
“It was good to see you all again.”
Destiny pressed the button and began to ascend. Papers in hand, she had completed her mission. Now to check on the others. Scouting.