Deathwalker 3.7

             He was frowning again. I considered changing the topic by asking about the job they’d brought me here for. I glanced at Ter Dryst. What was it he’d said? That this job was… was it special? That’s what came to mind, but I wasn’t sure I remembered right.
            “So you wouldn’t have studied Origin history,” Ter Fless said slowly. I wasn’t sure if it was a question or if he was thinking out loud.
            “Um,” I stalled as I tried to figure out what theory he meant, “I believe we covered the main histories of the nearby systems and Earth.” Was that it?
            “No, no,” he waved that away, “Origin history. The history of deathwalking.”
            I blinked at him.
            “He means how tinkering with genetics led to deathwalking abilities,” Ter Dryst inserted in the dry, exasperated tone of a man tired of hearing people dance around a topic. Ter Fless didn’t quite wince, but he looked like he wanted to. I hoped my expression didn’t show my unease so clearly.
            “‘Tinkering’ is such a harsh word,” he objected weakly with a reproachful glance at Ter Dryst. He turned back to me, “But, yes, that is what I meant. The origin of deathwalking abilities. Was that part of your studies?”
            Now, I was caught between my greed (or hunger) and Neith’s advice about being honest about my abilities. Oh, well. It was nice while it lasted.
            “We did,” I hedged, “but although I understand the basic concepts, science is not my best subject.” I admitted and smiled apologetically. “I do know that genetic… adjustments eventually led to the deathwalking mutation.” Between finding another word for “tinkering” and remembering the word “mutation,” I was pretty proud of how scientific that sounded.
            Ter Fless’ sigh was less than impressed. On the other hand, Ter Dryst was looking quietly amused again, which was much less nerve-wracking than his silent intimidation.
            “I suppose that is accurate as far as it goes,” Ter Fless allowed and turned to walk to the back of the room. Ter Dryst made a terse gesture after him, and I scrambled to obey although it was difficult not to be distracted by the relics we passed. “The lead in charge of the project  was a geneticist named Dr. Cruz. The good doctor did her best to save humanity and help us survive space travel.”
            He stopped in front of the only blank wall and looked at me expectantly. I nodded hurriedly. This much I knew. Satisfied that I was paying attention, he continued on like a history-lover who rarely found an audience willing to listen.
            “Yes, that is the standard history taught. But what happened to the good doctor afterward?” he looked at me again, and I had no answer. He seemed pleased by that, as well. “Perhaps you have heard the Old World saying about the road to Hell?”
            Even as I nodded, Ter Dryst quoted softly.
            “The road to Hell is well-paved with good intentions.”
            A shiver ran down my spine, yet Ter Fless seemed positively gleeful.
            “Oh, it is so nice to speak with Deathwalkers!” he beamed. I thought for a moment that he would clap his hands together with excitement. “No one else ever recognizes my references.”

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