The Tower’s destruction surprised Shan for just a moment, before he too remembered the pain of Diadem. Why had he not seen it? Perhaps the lack of the Guardian, the surrounding city or the creature’s young had confused him. He thought not. Now the spire was shorn away and the shape beneath revealed he shuddered. His Master sent him to Diadem to retrieve the artefact hidden there, he had failed spawning another enemy, one pure of heart and of clean lines and majestic beauty. His screen lit with an incoming message he could no more refuse than follow a clean and healthy lifestyle.
It was his new Lord, whose face he gazed upon for the first time. What a glorious shade of black were his eyes, the torn and bloodied feathers added just the right amount of menace and the stained wings were priceless…
Shan blinked and stared again at Viker. Was it possible? Had corruption gone its own pretty way, infecting the pure and blessed with such filthy depravity. His Master had been such an insinuous one, maybe Shan’s prayers had been answered after all.
“I know you,” said Viker, staring back at Shan from the screen, “we have met before.”
“Oh, that we have Lord,” said Shan depreciatingly, “but you were somewhat different then. We weren’t exactly on speaking terms and I had to leave rather quickly.”
Viker’s eyes widened and then he began to cackle, “Oh, this is rich. You who infected me, who helped to create me are now mine.”
Shan bit back the comment he wished to say and merely bowed his head.
“No, false modesty Shan,” said Viker, his laughter mutating into viciousness, “we know each other too well for that. Bring yourself and what remains of your rotting henchmen down to me on this planet. We have work to do.”
“Lord,” pleaded Shan, “if we do that they could take the ship.”
“Stop your pretence,” barked Viker, “he who you fear is now half the man he was and no threat to you or my ship.”
Shan recognised the command for what it was and the possession of his ship. It would be better he obey, for now.
“And Shan,” crooned Viker, “remember how well I know you. Any thoughts of desertion, treachery, coercion or murder will only be tolerated when done in my name. Are we clear?”
“Yes, my Lord,” replied Shan, now laughing himself, “however, you cannot expect me to promise you to avoid all idle speculation.”
Viker’s cold smile was burned onto Shan’s brain, long after the image faded from his screen. The familiarity was not just that of a similar place, nor of old acquaintances, the scent of failure hung heavy in the air. Not something he relished experiencing again.
“You,” he snapped at his nearest remaining follower, “bring me a Portal Key.”
There was no question as to why, just blind obedience. That was preferable to more sentient servants. He needed to make a sacrifice or two, commune with his Master to beg forgiveness and do so all in secret if he was to stand a chance of surviving this. And all of this before he joined Viker. One quick side trip was easily arranged and the rest he would just have to improvise.