A Month Later

"So, 'Ford," Fang prompted, clutching Lightning's hand on the operating table beside her, "What'd we find out?"

Across the room, Raina rubbed up Cyrus arm soothingly, looking to Rafford imploringly.

Rafford rubbed his neck idly. "I'll let the specialist explain; Nora?"

"Thank you, 'Ford," Nora nodded, then turned to the two on the patient's bench. "Now Lightning, before we get to consequences of the injection, I just want to reassure you straight up front. There have been no growth abnormalities of apparent cognitive dysfunction with your child because of this." Lightning, along with five other warm-blooded bodies turned cold. "Your baby appears to be growing just fine, healthy in fact."

"Baby?" Fang uttered.

"Now Cyrus…" Raina tried to calm, hand lifting to her husband's chest.

"Well, I was injected with an unknown compound…"

Cyrus gave her a doubtful look. "Are you telling me an injection did this, Claire?"

"Seems like it."

"That you haven't had sex with Fang?"


Cyrus looked to Fang expectantly.

Fang quivered under the stare. Lightning shot her an equally demanding look, which Fang wavered between before landing on Cyrus. "…I'm sorry!"

Lightning smacked herself.

Cyrus gave him a penetrating stare. "So you slept with my daughter after the injection, did you? Catch her in one of her heat flashes when she was vulnerable?"

"I— " Fang stuttered, trembling. "Andbeforethat, I'm so sorry!"

"Our bond of trust!" Cyrus gaped. "My little girl! Violated!"

Fang teetered, ill.

"Fang," Lightning grabbed to steady her. "He's kidding."


Lightning glanced back at Cyrus. "Dad?"

"He's kidding," Raina confirmed, "Serah won't be happy to learn we're pushing up the marriage date with all those wedding plans undone."

Cyrus sighed, hung up. "Did you have to take after Raina in everything, Claire?"

Lightning's eyes popped. "Mom?"

"A baby…" Fang mumbled, wide eyes full of awe as she looked upon Lightning. "Bearer of my children…"

"Fang— " her weight slid, but Lightning caught her easily, pulling Fang into her lap. Father of my children. Lightning thought, gazing at her.

And it all was right.


Steaming metal crunched under platinum-plated boots as the armament-clad robed official stepped onto the ruin that'd been a confidential laboratory secluded away in the forest . He looked from smoldering steel to shattered glass and charred instruments, a fortune that'd been collapsed. The inner layers would be completely inaccessible now; it'd be impossible to salvage any profit from the pit, not without drawing attention for use of the technologies.

The lieutenant clucked. This festering dunheap had reached its unhappy end at a most inconvenient stage. He reached across his suited tie to unhook the gray wingspan from the suit of his leather-protected shoulders. "Lieutenant Rosch reporting in. Project Construct failure, Commander. Yun Chief Asael and Skeltson Reeves suspected dead."

The mini-communications microphone built in to the steels buzzed back with his superior. "Are the samples salvageable?"

"Negative, Commander. The facility's suffered irreparable damages.."

"Bury it. Project Construct never existed."