The transformation of Mike Morrich into a b’nei eloah takes a week and for the first time Earl Roland witnesses it happening before his eyes. He sees how a bump on the back of Mike’s head grows and cracks open to reveal the white bone cup. Photos of Mike’s crotch taken every few hours documents the change from human male to nephilim jen as female genitalia forms under hez penis. One of hez testicles crawls inside and becomes an ovary.
Blood and skin samples are taken from Mike by Amanda Chase and she witnesses how the pairs of XY chromosomes in every cell changes into XZ pairs. The X is replicated, then bonded to the Y with a second centromere. She finds the entire thing enthralling.
Lilith and Mike stay in a clinic very much like the one where Robyn and Hunky were held during the War, but they are not confined. Or at least, they are not made to feel as though they were confined. Roland imagines Lilith and Mike will be more communicative if they do not feel like captives, and indeed they are. Lilith, in particular, is quite free with har information, but much of it they find to be unbelievable. Meanwhile Freddy Aspin, who is merely on loan from the Colorado state pen, is indeed confined elsewhere on Hanford nearly twenty miles to the northwest across mostly empty land.
When Mike’s change is complete, Lilith asks, “Did you finally see what you wanted to see, Dr. Roland?”
“Indeed I did, Dr. Gervasi,” he replies, acknowledging har Ph.D in Levantine linguistics. “For three decades I had no subjects like yourself to study. Now I know I can make my own new subjects simply by injecting them with the fluid from existing subjects.”
“But what of your promise to Michael?”
“Ah yes, we promised to make his painkillers available to him as he dies of his cancer. Yes, we will continue to do so, for as long as he lives. But they will only be available for him here. I’m afraid he didn’t read the fine print.”
“We have already obtained his reprieve. He will not be executed, but he must spend his entire life in confinement, and whether he does that here at Hanford or back in Colorado should make no difference to him. As for you, Lilith, are you not grateful you will not be deported to Israel? Certainly with the radiation and the famine that is a death sentence just as real as Freddy’s. You can stay here and help us to understand this thing too.”
Lilith walks over and gathers Mike Morrich into har arms in an embrace, and begins a gentle dance with hem. When they have turned so that Lilith is facing Roland once more, sha says, “I think I can do better for Mike than just make him comfortable as he dies. With Haziel dead, and Yeshua on Barbelo, the b’nei elohim can use a second healer. I think it should be Mike, and che can begin by healing hemself. And Freddy goes with us too. Hy can be our muscle.”
Before the eyes of Earl Roland, Amanda Chase, and Ian Trochmann, Lilith and Mike simply disappear from the clinic.
Their first stop is the cell where Freddy is being held. Lilith says to hym, “You’re not going back to the state pen, Freddy. Roland wants you to stay here so he can keep testing his damn drug on you. He wants to keep all of us here until we die. You should go, Freddy. You’ll find you have the power to do that now. I’ll meet up with you later.”
Then sha embraces Mike again, and they pop out of existence.
Freddy touches hyz hand to the bars of his cell, and discovers they are rapidly turning red hot.
When the Soviet Union nuked Reactor Row at Hanford in black ’73 they targeted the two active ones on the northeast end, but there were two other reactor complexes miles upriver. The one on the far west end escaped nearly unscathed. This was acceptable to the Russians from a strategic basis because that reactor was the oldest one, the B reactor used for the Nagasaki bomb, and it had already been taken out of service.
There are a handful of smaller buildings that are left intact in that area as well. They are too asbestos-ridden to economically tear down, and it was there, separate from Lilith and Mike and under tighter guard, that Freddy Aspin had been held by Pharmadigm under the terms laid down by Colorado corrections.
Moving north, Freddy encounters a chain-link fence still standing along the shore of the Columbia River, installed to keep boaters (casual or not) from entering the installation. Hy makes short work of the fence with hyz new “talent”, the same one that facilitated hyz escape from the building where they were holding hym. Apparently hy is a pyrokinetic now, though hy isn’t sure if it came from the drug or the screwy afterworld where hy saw Jesus. Hy’d much rather have Lilith’s talent, and just pop in and out of places.
Freddy had used hyz power to snuff out hyz guards back there too. Killing men no longer gave hym much pause. Hy already crossed that particular Rubicon in the war, and even more so when hy killed Oboe Man in Denver, although it was Freddy’s story, and hy was sticking to it, that hy just gave the street musician a short sharp shock, just like hy heard on that song on the radio, and it was Oboe Man’s face hitting the sidewalk that actually killed him. By all rights it should have been Involuntary Manslaughter, but no: it was a robbery, so they gave hym Murder Two. Then the New Confederacy came in and elevated even Murder Two to the death penalty, ex post fucto.
But killing the DoE’s two guards? No regrets. If Lilith wasn’t bullshitting hym, and hy had no reason to believe that sha was, then Pharmadigm and the Confeds didn’t intend to let hym or har or Mike go free for the rest of their lives. At least in prison Freddy figured hy wouldn’t be subject to experiencing dreams that physically hurt.
Later, Lilith would explain to Freddy (using concepts hy didn’t understand at first, like “Maxwell’s Demon”) that the energy hy conjured forth didn’t just pop into being from nothing but actually came from the ambient temperature of the fence itself, focused somehow by Freddy into a white-hot circle. This renders the galvanized steel wire soft enough that a gentle push on the now-frozen fence at the center of the circle gave Freddy a neat hole to walk through. Then hy is staring at Coyote Rapids at Hanford Reach, the last undammed section of the mighty Columbia.
Freddy isn’t a swimmer, and hy knows hy cannot set foot in the water here or hy’d be swept away and drown. There is the Vernita Bridge two or three miles upriver, but already Freddy can see the lights of Department of Energy police cars are crawling all over that whole area, guessing hyz move. Hy can see them clearly enough in the deepening twilight over miles of absolutely flat scrublands. Other flashing lights on power transmission towers scattered across the Hanford site pierce the darkness.
Any other convicted felon would move away from the colored flashing lights of the police vehicles, but Freddy has a new confidence that comes with hyz new talent, and every time he uses hyz talent hy learns more about it.
Freddy creeps upriver on the shoreline until hy can clearly see the bridge. Most of the squad cars are gathered together south of the river, but there is one car in the middle of the bridge where the cantilevered section spans the deepest water. So Freddy sees hyz problem. Hy knows hy can give them a taste of fire, even from a small distance, but how to get that one car together with the others?
Undetected, hy crosses under the bridge and looks at the scene from the west. Hy sees there are four cop cars parked in what passed for civilization around there, a small roadside parking lot with a few trees and a restroom. From a safe distance Freddy sets their gas tanks alight much the way a boy would burn ants with a magnifying glass in the sunlight. Scratch those four cars.
The cops in the fifth car mid-span see the flames and drive off the bridge to render aid. Two cops emerge with pistols drawn, leaving their car running with the keys in the ignition, the fools. Freddy changes his plan. In the dark it is easy for Freddy to scramble up to the rest area and make off with that last car. North over the bridge, then west, heading upriver on the far bank. And there is no way for the other cops to call it in. It is too hot to reach any of their radios, even if they are still working.