Seth prowled the spacious great room restlessly. Three nights ago, when they'd finally tracked the vixen to her lair, he'd been tense with both dread at what he was about to learn and anticipation of the same. Adrenaline had been pulsing through him at the potential for discovery, as well, when they were so close to learning what they'd come so far to discover.
To their surprise it had taken skill, ingenuity, and a great deal of care to breach Dr. LaMotte's security. None of them had anticipated that, even though he supposed they should have, given the remote location.
Of course they could've breached it without any difficulty whatsoever if it had been merely a matter of getting in, if they hadn't cared whether or not they left their signature behind. He wasn't certain anyone could have, but they certainly wouldn't have been deterred for more than a few minutes.
It was as well they--or at least he--had contained his impatience. Dr. LaMotte, to his vast disappointment, hadn't been in residence at the time and if they'd simply burst in, as he'd been more than a little tempted to do, the chances were they would've spent months tracking the wily doctor and thrown away any possibility of finding out what they'd come to learn in those few moments of impatience. The residence was miles from the city, but it wouldn't have taken the authorities long to arrive at the scene and, of course, then they wouldn't have had the element of surprise any longer.
He'd been both stunned and furious when they'd discovered Dr. LaMotte wasn't at home. Before his impatience had gotten the better of him, though, it had occurred to him that it was the weekend. Dr. LaMotte was single. The chances were probably good that she'd decided to join friends in the city. They'd contented themselves with searching the house for any useful information. When they'd come up empty, they'd settled to wait for her return with what patience they could muster.
He had, he thought irritably. He couldn't tell that either Simon or Cole suffered from that particular problem.
He still wasn't entirely certain what to make of the Cyborgs.
He wasn't sure that forming an alliance with them was one of the wisest things he'd ever done, but then, at the time, he hadn't exactly been thinking clearly--not beyond the possibility that they were proof of his suspicions, at any rate.
It was nothing short of amazing that they'd managed to rub along together as well as they had, all things considered.
Hell, if not for the circumstances, one or all three of them would be dead now.
Fortunately for him, since coming face to face with an exact replica of himself had been enough of a shock to completely shut down all of his Hunter instincts, it had had the same effect on both Simon and Cole.
Feeling his gut clench at the memory, Seth ceased to pace the room and moved to one of the windows to stare out at the darkness beyond. He wasn't concerned that he might be spotted. The darkness both inside and outside made him just one more shadow of many. They'd disabled the motion activated lights within the residence to prevent giving away their presence to anyone who might happen to pass by ... or to Dr. LaMotte when she finally decided to return.
Deep down, he knew there was only one possible explanation for the fact that Simon was identical to him in every way, and yet he was still wrestling with it. Despite the doubts that had already begun to circle his mind and torment him, he was having trouble coming to grips with the horrific truth hovering in the back of his mind that nothing he'd believed he knew about himself was real.
He had to suppose he hadn't completely accepted the suspicions. He'd wondered if it was merely a reluctance to accept, or an inability to accept his 'past' that had given rise to the suspicions to start with.
It was possible that was part of it, he supposed. Mostly it was the company's strange determination to keep him returning to the place where he'd lost his family. He hadn't realized they were interfering at first. Twice, he'd actually managed to get to the spaceport before he'd run into a problem that prevented him from leaving Earth for Taurus V--the colony where he'd supposedly grown up and where his family had been interred after they'd been slaughtered by the Cyborgs.
He hadn't been able to access any records on any computer system--nothing about his family--nothing about him before he'd become a hunter.
He'd managed to elude them when it had finally dawned on him that it wasn't mere chance, that he was being prevented from returning to his home colony, from visiting the site where his family had been slaughtered, where he had been left for dead.
He thought he'd braced himself for what he was going to find. He supposed, somewhere in the back of his mind, he'd thought the company was hiding something even worse than he remembered, that they'd prevented him from going back because they weren't certain he could handle it emotionally--not a personal concern because they gave a fuck about him as man, but concern for their investment. He was well aware that nothing could be more dangerous than a Hunter completely out of control unless it was a Cyborg gone berserk.
He discovered he wasn't prepared--at all--for what he'd found, though. There had been a tragic accident, alright, when one of the reactors had blown up. It had wiped out nearly half the colony. Cyborgs had had nothing to do with it, though. The colony hadn't been attacked at all. The equipment had been damaged in a meteor shower.
It got worse. His family hadn't existed--not his parents and not his woman, not his infant son or his three year old daughter. He'd found one family that seemed to match--the age and description of the woman and her two children--but the woman's man had been interred with her.
It had taken a while for that to sink in. For a while, he'd wondered if his grief had cost him his sanity. How could he grieve for the loss of his family and forget where he'd come from, though? If he was right and this was his colony, how was it possible that neither his woman nor his children had ever existed at all--not as his? How could he feel such a devastating sense of loss for something that had never happened anywhere but in his mind?
And if all of that was true and they were nothing but a figment of an insane mind, who the fuck was he? Where had he come from? Had he already been mad before he'd woken in the company med center? Had the company made a mistake and patched his broken mind with the wrong man's memories? Or had they, for some reason that defied logic or explanation, given him memories they knew weren't his? Did that explain why they'd worked so hard to keep him from discovering it?
But why torment him with such a terrible past that he'd felt at times that he couldn't live and bear it?
How could his parents not have existed?
How could Simon exist--a Cyborg, an identical twin?
He thought, if he hadn't already been questioning what the company had done to him, the shock of coming face to face with Simon might've completely unhinged his mind. As it was, it had still been a hell of a fucking jolt, but he'd stopped doubting his own sanity by then and begun trying to formulate some way to take a closer look at the company.
Simon hadn't been just one more clue, though. Simon had been the jackpot.
Simon had known who at the company was responsible--the woman he thought of as Mother LaMotte, Dr. Carol LaMotte.
Almost as if his thoughts had conjured him, Simon strolled into the great room at that moment, still dripping water from his shower. Seth turned and surveyed him with more than a little irritation.
Both Simon and Cole seemed enthralled with the doctor's decadent shower, he thought wryly, wondering if it was because both Cyborgs were so fascinated with the changes they sensed in themselves and enjoyed the way the water felt pelting them.
They'd assured him that they were evolving, just as the rumors had said about the other rogues, that they had awareness, felt things they'd never experienced before.
He wasn't sure he believed that either.
He didn't know what the fuck to believe anymore.
"There is still hot water," Simon said after studying Seth's expression for several moments as if trying to interpret his thoughts or, more likely, the emotions.
Seth shook his head, moving from the window. "I don't need a shower," he said irritably.
"The hot water soothes tension."
Seth tamped the urge to ask him what the hell he'd know about tension. He was a fucking machine. "Why the fuck not?" he muttered. "At least it's something to do to pass the time."
"Cole is not likely to return before dawn," Simon pointed out coolly as Seth stalked past him. "...If he returns at all."
"It doesn't look like the doctor is likely to return either."
The shower was soothing, as much as he hated to admit it. He wondered if that was why the doctor had decided to take the place--because it had the old fashioned water shower rather than the particle showers required by law now. For that matter, he was surprised she'd wrangled permission to keep it.
Unless, of course, nobody knew she had it.
It was possible. She had enough clout, or she was smart enough, she'd managed to virtually erase her trail.
It had taken determination to track her down.