- This here place... it may well be your kingdom now, sweetheart... but it still has rules.
- — Shepherd
Appearing in "Splinter Species, Part Two"
Synopsis for "Splinter Species, Part Two"
Maxine Baker wanders The Red with Shepherd and Socks having just sworn to the Totems that she would find a way to bring back her brother Cliff from death. After discovering a place called the Field of Organs, where the raw stuff of the body is grown and harvested before it becomes a person, Maxine gets an idea.
Meanwhile, her father Buddy has just failed to catch a criminal who has been mangling kidnapped animals; grafting them to his own body. What's worse is that a crowd of paparazzi has discovered his location, and now crowds around him, further preventing his pursuit. Their questions aggravate him, and his show of anger frightens the reporters. Pushing past them, he attempts to pick up the trail again. He tracks the man to another warehouse, where he can still sense the pain of the animals. The pain becomes so strong that he collapses, and through blurred vision, he sees the man, and several more animal-men waiting for him. Unable to get up, Buddy watches the man he had chased approach, explaining that they only want what he has; to be one with the animals. With that, he brings down an axe, lodging its blade in the soft tissue of Buddy's shoulder.
In the Red, Maxine explains that when she was eaten by the Rot, she made a new body for herself just by imagining it. So, in the Organ Field, she hopes that she can re-grow Cliff's body for him, using the organs that are already there. Socks warns that it mightn't be a good idea, but she persists. A body begins forming before them, and slowly, it begins to resemble her brother. All the while, Socks tries to warn her that whatever she creates, it will not be Cliff. Shepherd holds the cat back, reminding him that some lessons have to be learned by doing.
Buddy regains consciousness with the leader of these animal-men standing over him, promising that they will not hurt him any more than they already have. Around them, cages of animals are lined against the walls, and Buddy has the sense that his blood is being drained from him. The animal-men are draining his blood, hoping to use it to become more like him. The man introduces himself as Clinton Hogue, and explains that he and his followers once were animal activists. They had been freedom fighters for animals, until they had seen him. Once they saw what he was, they knew they could be become more.
In truth, what they want most is to be one with the animals by being connected to them by the same connection that Buddy is. Using a device to increase the painful animal screams that have been plaguing Buddy, Hogue tortures Buddy into revealing the name of the Red. They have taken Buddy's blood from him, in the hopes that an ally of theirs can help them connect with the Red as well. Suddenly, the reporters burst into the warehouse, and are horrified by what they see.
Maxine tries to communicate with her brother, but he utters no responses. Cautiously, Socks explains that whatever this is, it is only a husk. She may have been able to duplicate her brother's body, but his spirit is gone. No body can survive without a soul to give it life. As the horror of realization dawns on Maxine, the body begins to melt away and crumble, and she rushes into Shepherd's comforting arms. He explains that even though saving Cliff isn't as simple as just making him a body, his soul is still somewhere in the Red. However, it will not be an easy task of finding it.
Suddenly, though, Socks warns that someone in the real world is coming, and he and Maxine must return to her bedroom, lest they are discovered disobeying her mother's rules. Ellen finds her daughter and the cat giggling at their shared secret, but her own sadness and loneliness are too strong to be angry at Maxine for still being up. When Maxine offers to let her share the bed again, Ellen gladly agrees, and wraps her arms around the girl. Smiling, Maxine promises her that everything will be all right, though Ellen doesn't believe it.
Elsewhere, Buddy's blood is delivered to a mansion in the Hollywood Hills, where it is taken by a man in a black cloak. He carries it into the mansion, and down into a darkened cave with a pool of blood at its centre. From that pool rises the man to whom the blood is to be delivered: Brother Blood. He intends to drink it.
- This book was first published on July 17, 2013.
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