Kneeling before him, she looked up with adoration.

"The prodigal Childe returns," the Master said, yanking at Darla's hair. "Did you think you'd be welcomed back with open arms as one of the elect to sit at my right hand?"

That's exactly what she'd thought. He was trapped, weak, in need of allies and she'd always been a favorite. "Master, I…"

"Hush," he said, placing a finger over her lips. "Perhaps, if you show me you can be obedient," he snarled the final word, "I may decide to be magnanimous."

Darla's fists clenched as she waited for the first blow.