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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11


Written by Ephiginia
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 3

He was trapped, encased in a chamber made of an unbreakable transparent wall with no visible door, and no obvious route for oxygen to enter. He had been here many times before, spending hours upon hours in the glass tomb unable to move, and somehow living without breathing. It had scared him at first, waking to this, but after time it had become habitual. And now, perhaps a month or two after his confrontation with death, he felt nothing.

The creature which had saved him had changed him, forced him through a metamorphosis which was often painful, if not agonizing. Essex's skin, once pale and soft, had hardened and thickened and turned to a substance so much like metal that he had once had the passing thought that he might melt should he be exposed to any great amount of heat. His eyes, at one time blood-shot and red with tears, glowed crimson with an energy of their own.

But most hideous of all was his heart, and his soul. The creature which had saved him had taken these away, leaving him only what it thought beneficial: his intelligence, his ambition, and his love for his work. True, Essex still had emotions. The creature had not stolen those. But any morals to govern them were gone, and he had no pity, and only a very crooked sense of goodness, or love.

With a hiss, the glass-like tomb moved, sliding up from the floor until it was high above Essex's head. The creature stood nearby, its cold eyes examining him from the short distance. "How do you feel?" it said to him. Long ago he might have shrugged in answer, but he had no such human inclinations now.

"I am well," he told it.

"You are also finished," it said.

He felt something like relief. He had been aching to get back to his studies, to his laboratory. "I may return to England now?" he asked. That was his plan- his partner in New Orleans could not see Essex like this, and Nathaniel had no real desire to go there, anyway. In England, he could easily hide away in his father's mansion; the old man had killed himself, his business gone bad and his son presumed dead.

"You may do as you wish. You know what I have asked of you."

Indeed, he did. The creature had evidently known of Essex's research into the pre-mature field of genetics, a domain the scientists of the day debated and for the most part avoided. If there was one expert in this field of science, Essex was it. He had shunned most theories presented by his colleagues, and made revolutionary discoveries far ahead of their time by himself. These he kept within his labs for the sake of continuing his studies. Much of what he did would not be considered virtuous.

The creature knew all of this, as if it had read every journal Essex ever wrote, had stood by his side during every experiment. And it seemed quite pleased with everything. Now it only wanted Essex to continue his studies, to continue doing as he pleased, to test any hypothesis he had, whether society deemed it "moral" or not. If anything, the creature only wanted one thing to change- it wanted Nathaniel to turn his investigations exclusively toward human genetics.

"In time, Essex," it had told him once, "there will be a change in humanity which will bring forth many who will be stronger than their brethren. These will dominate over their forefathers, and will take the world as their own. Only the strongest will survive."

He didn't know exactly what it meant. He didn't really care. His only desire was to get back to his work.

He had almost entirely forgotten about his son. But not quite.

Armand St. Just watched his wife cradle his tiny nephew, and sighed. In his hands was the note Nathaniel had written before killing himself, handing the infant over to Armand's care.

"He is precious!" cooed Blanche in French, as the baby reached up to grab her nose. "I have never seen a more beautiful baby."

"He has my sister's beauty. Hopefully, he will also have my sister's spirit," he said. "Why such a woman as her- so happy, so contented- should ever fall in love with such a man as him..."

"He loved her as much as she adored him," she chided gently.

"But he didn't seem to love his son so much." He frowned deeply, setting the note aside.

"Does it matter any more?" she asked, and he knew she was right. "Let us leave the dead to their graves, to ponder their own sins. We have enough on our own."

She turned her attention back to the baby, and he left her to him. Not bothering with coat or hat, he walked out of the house, nodding to the servants as he passed, and then turning on to the main road to stroll through the city.

New Orleans in that time was the center of the south, culturally and economically. Any kind of people could be found there, Indians and free people of color, immigrants from nearly any corner of Europe, and occasionally someone from the north. Everything was color, and everything was different. Armand hardly noticed as he walked away from his home the dark figure which passed him, nearly bumping shoulders with him in the street, walking hastily in the opposite direction.

The figure took just as much notice of him, brushing its sleeve unconsciously with a gloved hand as it hurried toward the St. Just house. It mounted the steps and threw open the door without ceremony, striking down an unfortunate servant who stood in the entryway with a single blow. The others had no time to rally themselves before the stranger had marched up the stairs, its footsteps making no sound, but its very presence leaving a trail of dread.

"A demon," said one, kneeling beside the fallen man.

"A spirit sent from Elizi Danto1," said another. "Or a bokor2."

The intruder forged on ahead, throwing open doors throughout the house, barely pausing to look into each room as it passed. The servants, fully convinced within moments that an evil spirit had come to them, didn't bother to try and resist it- they ran away from it, not daring even to look into its frightful eyes.

At last, it found what it had been looking for. Behind the greatest door was a large bedroom, lavishly furnished with any indulgence a rich resident of New Orleans might fancy. And huddled in a corner, slightly hidden by shadow, cowered Blanche, who held the baby in her arms.

"Give me the child, and no harm will come to you," it said, reaching one hand out as it crouched down next to her.

She shrunk even farther against the wall, and the baby whimpered.

"I have no need for you, dead or alive, Madame St. Just- if you give me the child, I will not hurt you." She shook her head slightly, but flinched as she saw his silver jaw clench slightly. "Very well. It is your choice," he said, and grabbed her arm, crushing it easily as she screamed. He batted away her flailing arms and seized the child, and then effortlessly flung her across the room into the opposite wall as he stood again.

He began to retreat from the bedroom, the baby tucked safely under one arm, his black cape falling over it. Blanche, watching with dimmed horror as her senses slowly numbed, made a vague attempt at wiping the blood which collected in her eyes, failing miserably. Then, seeing that she was defeated and Remy was lost, she looked into the face of her murderer, her quivering jaw dropping slightly as she saw who he truly was.

"Nathaniel... it was nearly impossible, but I... recognize you. You look so different but... I do not know if some bokor has resurrected you... or if you are merely some phantom..." she paused, and breathed heavily. "but... do well by your son."

"I will do as I please," he told her, and left her to die without so much as blinking a brilliant red eye.

He set the baby into a chamber nearly identical to the one the creature had used for him, though far smaller. The child, drugged into sleep, made no sound or movement as the glass-like door of the case was closed with a hiss, and a white gas surrounded the tiny body until all that could be seen of it was a shadow.

The creature had furnished Essex with many things, technologies beyond Nathaniel's wildest dreams, in order to assist in his studies. This particular device had been made especially for Remy, a miniature capsule to keep the child in a half-living state until his inhuman father chose to free him. The baby wouldn't grow or think or feel until then, allowing Essex to make certain he wouldn't fall ill with a sickness like his mother's. And even better- this would give time for the scientist to discover the meaning to what the creature had said... "a change in humanity which will bring forth many who will be stronger than their brethren" If only the strongest survived, than his son would be the strongest. Once Essex had taken the time to fully explore this world of genetics, he would make his son into the best there could be. A superior human.

The creature was pleased, and Nathaniel headed off to England to start again on his work. In leaving New Orleans, he left things which reminded him of Elise. And over time, over years which stretched into decades, he lost more and more of his humanity as he drew farther and farther from his memories of her.

He had almost entirely forgotten about his son. But not quite.

1Elizi Danto: Vodoun goddess of motherhood, often considered a violent god.


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