JKChapter6

As the Father prepared to leave Koschei for the evening, he stopped at the door and cupped Koschei's face tenderly. "I have a wonderful surprise for you, Koschei. You'll meet her in the morning."

Koschei gasped. "A woman?" He had yet to see a woman, let alone meet one. His heart beat furiously at the thought.

"Yes, Koschei, a woman. I made her for you, so that you could have a mate. I know how lonely you are, waiting for me every day, and so I created a companion for you, so that you'll never be lonely again. You must treat her well," the Father admonished, gently tapping Koschei's nose with his index finger. Koschei looked perplexed.

"Well, yes, of course I will. Why wouldn't I?" He frowned.

The Father caught himself. He shouldn't have said that to Koschei, he shouldn't have even put the thought in his head. This isn't the same man, he reminded himself, you've totally remade him.

"I'm sorry, Koschei, I shouldn't have put it quite that way. You see, women are so very special, they must always be treated with the highest regard, and I just wanted to be sure to impress that upon you before you meet her."

"Yes, Father. I understand. May I ask, what is she called?"

"Isana. Her name is Isana." Surveying Koschei's face for the slightest hint of disturbance at hearing that name, the Father saw none. Satisfied, the Father kissed Koschei and left for the night.

"Isana," Koschei said aloud, softly, after the father was well away. "Isana." Slowly he turned, walked over to his favorite chair, and sat, closing his eyes. To the eyes of his watchers, he was napping, but there was much, much more going on. Isana was the key he had fashioned for the cache of his memories that he had created when he realised what the Father was doing to him. Slowly his entire previous life unfolded, memory by memory. With them came his cunning and his bitterness. He knew that whatever happened, he could not let on to anyone that he had his right mind back. He again applied the lessons he had learned from the Shadow Mentalist, and put his real persona away in the background. As far as the Father and his minions were concerned, he had to be the new Koschei. He would bide his time, and when the opportunity came, he would escape with Isana. A smile crept across his face as he meditated, taking stock of all the changes in his body that the Father had created. There, he suspected, would be the means of his escape, for sooner or later, the Father would have to test his new creation, and whether it could regenerate. If Koschei could control that process, and stall it, perhaps the Father would think him dead, and give him the opportunity he needed. He realised the danger that he might not be able to control it, or or he might die in the process, but death was preferable to this subservient, twisted existence.

With a simple-minded smile for the benefit of his watchers, he got out of his chair and prepared for bed.

The Father stopped by Isana's apartment. Letting himself in, he smiled at the enthusiastic greeting he invariably got.

"Father!" Isana squealed in delight as she threw herself into his arms. "You're here late tonight. Are you staying?" She asked hopefully.

"No, my dear girl, not tonight. I just wanted to stop by and prepare you for a little gift I'll be giving you tomorrow. There's someone I want you to meet, someone I think you'll like very much."

"Who?" Isana's face lit in anticipation.

"A new friend, one I hope you'll grow to love. His name is Kochei."

"Koschei!" She repeated enthusiastically. "What is he like?"

"He is just like you, my dear Isana. Together, if you wish, you could have a family."

"A family." Isana frowned. "But I want to have a family with you."

"We aren't compatible," the Father reminded her, stroking her face, "but you and Koschei are perfectly compatible, I made sure of it. Now get some sleep, I'll see you in the morning." He kissed her forehead and let himself out.

Isana sighed, then smiled, and skipped over to her dressing room to decide what to wear in the morning.

When Koschei rose the next morning, he paid extra attention as he showered and shaved. This morning was special, he was going to meet Isana. In the back of his mind, he fleetingly felt a thought, start over again. He ate the breakfast provided for him hurriedly, brushed his teeth, then dressed. He lingered over this, what would a woman like? He knew what the Father enjoyed seeing him in, but would a woman like the same things as a man? He eventually chose a soft, silky, aquamarine tunic and matching pants, with a tan buckskin belt and a pair of soft fawn moccasins for his feet. The Father had told him that this particular outfit enhanced his fair coloring. Koschei liked the feel of the silky material against his skin. He hoped Isana would like it, too. After one last look in the mirror, he walked out into his living area and started pacing. His wait was soon over.

The door to his apartment opened, and the Father strode in, beaming at Koschei with approval at his appearance, then a guard followed him, and then Isana. Koschei's breath caught in his throat as he saw what had to be the most beautiful creature he'd ever seen. No scars, a voice in the back of his head spoke, then receeded. Her dark, shiny hair was pulled back from her face in a simple braid. Her emerald eyes sparkled as she smiled a brilliant smile, her flawless face alight with warmth. Her slender figure was clad in a royal blue velvety dress which clung to her smooth curves, and on her feet were simple jeweled sandals.

"Hello," she greeted him, a little shyly, but sincerely. "You must be Koschei."

"I – I am," Koschei stuttered, then took a deep breath and continued, "I mean, yes I am, and I'm very pleased to meet you, Isana." He looked quickly at the Father, who nodded his approval. "Would you like to sit down? Can I get you anything to drink? I have all kinds of different tea, and coffee, and..."

"Some tea would be very nice indeed, Koschei," the Father interrupted, "we'll go sit down while you make some."

Koschei quickly bustled off to make tea while the Father guided Isana over to the sofa. The guard remained at the door.

"So, what do you think so far, my dear?"

"Oh, I like him, Father!" Isana assured him, softly. Of course she would, with the Plicarian genes he had spliced so carefully with hers – and Koschei's – she liked everyone he introduced her to, a lot.

"If you feel comfortable with him, I'll leave you two alone together for awhile. Is that alright?" Of course, the guard would remain at the door, at least for this meeting. He knew that would not hinder either of his subjects from doing what came naturally.

"Yes!" Isana beamed.

When Koschei returned shortly with tea, the three of them sat and sampled the drink and some biscuits and tried to make small talk, but it was obvious the two wanted to become better aquainted, so the Father soon excused himself and went to his office.

Koschie left his chair and came to sit beside Isana. He reached over and took her hands in his, and slowly they leaned toward one another and shared a chaste kiss. Looking into each other's eyes, they smiled and kissed again, more deeply and passionately. Hand-in-hand they rose, and retired into the bedroom.

Later, as Isana slept peacefully with her head on his shoulder, Koschei came to himself and surveyed his mate. He knew this was not 'his' Isana, but it mattered not. Here was a perfect match for him, unspoiled in beauty or in nature, with no goals apart from pleasing him, well, and the Father, of course. But he could work on that. He knew how the Father had manipulated them, and he felt sure he could do the same. Gently he entered the sleeping Isana's mind, and began working.