Clizyati was losing control of Kathleen James’s body and soul. The masquerade was finished. An illusion shattered irreparably as glass.
Angelique Fraser, though a lowly Earthling, was exceptional. Of the one-percent with a developed Sixth Sense. ‘Faculty X,’ the earth priest Colin Wilson called it. Clizyati had studied the Earth Culture. Angelique was ruining the Archonte plans. She was onto them.
Clizyati, assigned to the eradication project on this planet, which her people really wanted and needed; had been chosen for an abundance of that gleeful murderous madness and efficient cruelty mandatory for destruction of an indigenous species on a tight schedule.
Synesthese, the Archonte Magistra directing the campaign should have known better than to select Clizyati, blatantly ignorant about the naming conventions on Planet Earth. But stuck on a distant planet with only limited resources out of hibernation, Synesthese figured Clizyati would probably be OK. Synesthese remembered Clizyati asking:
“Magistra, may I pretend to be ‘Vlad; Vlad Tepes,’ during the conquest?” Clizyati liked the sound of some of their spoken names. Synesthese, as a Seventh Level Advisor in charge of the Archonte Crusade should have known right then there’d be trouble.
“Clizyati, your knowledge of their historical leadership is notable…” the Magistra soothed. Diplomacy was a requirement of someone of Level Seven Archonte breeding and caste.
“However, you are missing the point,” Magistra continued, spouting words in the manner of the locals here; coping with their awkward vocalizations riddled with shaded emotion, vast inconsistencies, and unfathomable nuances. Such was definite proof of a population undeserving such a fine world; therefore worthy of extinction.
“Their telepathy, along with several other talents, cast away. No! Foolishly wasted! Their words are imprecise. Their syntax irregular. They have insufficient attention spans. They’ve invented protocols for mob insanity. Confused, they cluster in packs, like rats in their filthy sewers called cities. These earth people have forgotten their own divinity.”
Magistra consoled herself that in spite of being dumb as Yak-turd, Clizyati worked hard, and was impressively focused:
“Sweet friend, you must BECOME ‘Kathleen James;’ in spite of your passionate interest in their history, and your appropriate admiration for the handful of noble and effective ones like this ‘Vlad Tepes;’ who understood the higher points of rapid species improvement.”
“Magistra, would the one called Einstein Albert, preacher of ‘You can’t fix stupid. Stupid is forever,’ make a better namesake?” Clizyati pressed the issue. Synesthese was careful not to treat subordinates bluntly, it crushed the spirit. Plus, Clizyati’s cruelty was noteworthy.
“Dear Clizyati, you mean ‘Albert Einstein,’ another of their extremely rare great thinkers… Unlike the vast herds of these cattle, with their large egos and tiny minds, who wear the same inflexible identity each day, like unchanged garments stiff with sweat. They seem to enjoy their lives of self-imprisonment and deliberate drudgery.
“They’re sick.” Synesthese gazed upon Clizyati kindly. “Tolerate the Name. Soon it will matter not.”
Clizyati sulked, slid her tongue across razor-sharp rear teeth hidden in the Kathleen James earth body simulacrum; savored the metallic flavor of terrestrial blood. Clizyati was resigned to becoming ‘Kathleen James,’ if only for a short while; then when finished, slaughter her.
But, she’d keep Angelique Fraser alive for a duration. Take her apart and study her.
Synesthese spoke more fluidly, piloting the body of Randall Osbourne. She had more experience than Clizyati at impersonating other sentient races. In this case… on this planet… marginally sentient. Clizyati was clumsy with her tools, short on technique.
She had carelessly put the minuscule soul of Kathleen James to sleep, in suspension, preventing its natural humanity from masking Clizyati’s stilted parody.
Synesthese, admittedly, had more experience, and took extra time practicing becoming the Osbourne. Especially the way Osbourne mounted and collaborated with that machine, a customized bicycle known as Diesel Dark.
Diesel Dark was not of flesh, but of shining crystalline alloy, slick lubricants, obedient gearing, and massive dark circles harboring captured air. The Human Osbourne was both slave and master to the machine entity. Ministry, communion, rapture, and anguish united them. The doctrine of Osbourne and Dark was not of hierarchy nor supplication.
Synesthese had duplicated Diesel Dark, but it was permissible to re-name a second-tier reproduction. The cloned bicycle was Danielle; it meant ‘God is my judge.’ Synesthese wished to locate and thank this God. That name, ‘Danielle.’ Sweet as vanilla and honey.
Synesthese directed the CORE of Randall Osbourne, an inverted technique requiring that spiritual depth and rarefied skill which signified a Seventh Level Magistra.
“Angelique, you are ill?” Randall Osbourne delicately touched her shoulder.
“Kathleen, coffee dark espresso yes?” he gripped Angelique, propelling her out through the doorway.
They began descending a semicircular stairway, leaving Kathleen James to compose herself. Angelique noticed, however, that composure was not required. Kathleen James had already tuned them out. She sat rigidly frozen, a motionless idol.
The two descended past where coffee was. Hardened hands tightened progressively mechanically like machine screw threads turning. It was then Angelique realized:
“Randall, something’s missing! The Platinum Coins. Those coins are haunted, cursed, bad luck; the ones Penguin-Man left behind at The Arielle. Upstairs, Kathleen was telling us, nearly verbatim what my husband Edward had said to me before someone, or some THING made him disappear: How matters were improving; and they did, but only briefly. After that, my Edward, Edward C Fraser, never returned.”
Osbourne’s mass felt DOUBLED as it spiralled her down the stairs, past the sales and display level, towards the basement where the Joule, a Black Hot-Rod Hearse, of 500 Cubic Inches and Steamroller Tires belonging to Edward Anton James waited silently.