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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 6

The man was huge, towering over him like a skyscraper would tower over a convenience store. He was standing at the window, staring out into the dull light of Metairie, and paying no attention to the little boy who was playing with a deck of cards on the floor.

Finally, he glanced away. "What're ya doin', pup?" he asked the little boy. The child grinned up at him.

"Playin' poker!" the child said enthusiastically.

"Ya can't play poker wit'out anyone else," Lou smiled. "An' who taught you to play? One o' m'boys?"

"Dey were playin' poker in de warehouse de ot'er day. I watched."

"If you be startin' wit' cards now, boy, you gonna be a regular card shark when ya grow up. Y'know how ta shuffle?"

The boy shook his head. "I try, but it don't work."

"Fingers ain't long 'nuff yet. I'll teach ya soon as you can do it." He crouched down by the child, gathering up one of the cards in the palm of his hand. "See dis? Dis be de Queen o' Hearts. You get dealt dis, you gonna find yerself a girlfriend."

"Ewww," Remy said, wrinkling his nose.

Lou laughed. "Maybe you don' wanna get dat card, den, huh?"

The boy leaned over and picked up another card, looking at it curiously. "What be dis one, Lou?"

Lou frowned. "De Ace o' Spades. Mean's death. You definitely don' wanna get dat one."

A sudden crash, the shattering of glass, and a brilliant beam which filled the room. Remy screamed, throwing his hand in front of his eyes to shield them from the light. He could hear Lou yelling, cursing in French, and then an unfamiliar voice which shouted something incomprehensible. The boy crawled away, hiding himself behind a couch, and peeked out to see what had happened.

Lou lay in a heap on the floor where he had been a moment before, a short man stooped over him, gloved fingers to the Creole's throat. He nodded, and stood straight again, surveying the room before he leapt silently out of the window.

In an hour, the intruder had not returned, and at last Remy dared to venture out of his hiding place. He crawled to Lou, tapping on his shoulder and then pushing against him with all his strength, crying out for him to wake up. He hit the man, as hard as he could, but there was no response. His body felt strangely cold.

One of Lou's friends came later that night, finding the boy curled up next to Lou's corpse. He called the police, who came not long after.

"What do you remember?" one of the cops had said to Remy. "What happened? What was the killer like?"

Remy shook his head and cried.

"Leave him alone, man. He's just a little kid," some neighbor scolded the officer. He only glared back. "What was he wearing?"

Remy looked up, his red-stained eyes looking carefully over the man's face. "A mask," he said. But that was all he said. What color of mask, what shape or design of mask, he would not tell.

Not that man, anyhow. Lou's friend held him, and waited until everyone had left until he asked, "Tell me more 'bout dat mask, Rem'. I know you be knowin' more."

"It was red," Remy had whispered. "Red wit' an orange diamond, an' it cover 'is whole face."

Lou's friend nodded. "Don' be worryin' 'bout dat mask or dat man no more, ever again, Remy. You safe from dere kind."

Remy shivered, but forced a smile onto his face. "Dat's great, Belle. Looks good on you."

"You always say dat," she grinned. She turned around, inspecting herself in the mirror.

"Purple's your color," he said oddly, not really knowing what else to say. It did look good on her: leg and arm armor of a purplish hue over a black body suit, and a long lavender cape. He would probably have liked it quite a bit if she didn't also have a lavender face mask, with a black diamond over one eye.

She noticed his attention to the mask and threw it on a nearby chair. "Nevermind dat," she said disdainfully. "I only wear dat until I complete m'trainin'. Den I don' have t'wear it no more."

He nodded. She had called him over to her house that morning to show him her new uniform. Besides the mask, it wasn't exactly the standard red Assassin attire the others of her Guild wore, but as the Guild leader's daughter, she could have gotten away with just about anything, which she was perfectly aware of.

Not that he ever wore the standard in Thieves clothing, either. His father had given him black kevlar chest armor and a black face mask for any and all of his hands-on training. The Thieves were far less dramatic in style of dress.

He watched her admire the sway of her cloak as she moved for a moment, and then turned the conversation towards something which had been bothering him for days. "Belle? How ya doin'?"

"What d'ya mean? I'm fine."

"I mean, wit' your mere."

"Oh." She met his gaze with her enchanting eyes, dark lavender meeting icy blue. "I'm fine, Remy. Really. I wasn't dat close to her. When she died, it was more like... like a weight bein' lifted off o' me den it was a burden t'carry. She didn' like me none too much. M'brother, but not me. I only feel sad f'r m' Daddy. He's not doin' so great."

Remy bowed his head. Marius hadn't even shown up in church, sending Julien and Belle by themselves. Rumors of an attempted suicide had burned like wildfire through the streets of the Crescent City, but Belle had assured anyone who asked her, even Remy, that it was untrue.

"But I'm okay," she said, grinning crookedly again, grabbing his hands and spinning him around. "Dey be havin' a party at Joe's tonight. What say we go an' not worry 'bout dis no more?"

"Sounds like fun," he said. He didn't bring up the subject of her mother again.

"De music's kind o' loud. De neighbors are gonna complain," Margot yelled at Remy as they met at a refreshment table set up in Joe's living room.


"De neighbors gonna complain!" she shouted as loud as she could. He caught on to what she was saying, and shrugged.

"What day gonna do, call de cops?"

She smiled. It wasn't likely. Joe was the cops. He even had his police car parked out on the street. If any other cops came, it was more than likely they'd just join in and dance.

Margot didn't attempt to say anything more. Instead, she tugged on his sleeve and led him outside, tapping on various shoulders and gesturing to the door to a few people they passed on the way. When they finally fought free of the massive crowd, they wandered out to the sidewalk a few houses down. "Anyone want ta come ovah ta my place an' play some cards?" she asked. "De party's great, but it's gettin' old. I'm startin' to get a headache."

"Me too," said one of the people she had led out here, a blonde young man with a perpetual smirk. He stretched, and then punched Remy lightly in the arm. "I'm thirsty, too. Remy drank all de punch in de building."

"Before you spiked it, mon ami," Remy retorted. "Den I left it well enough alone."

"He spiked de punch? An' you let me drink it?" Belle punched him in the other arm, far harder. "Thanks a lot!"

"Well, you're not drunk. I hope."

"She'd probably get violent an' kill us all if she got drunk," Lapin said, and then ducked as Belle swung an arm at him. "Or maybe I spoke too soon."

"You always speak too soon."

Margot shook her head. "I'm goin' ta my house. Anyone else gonna come?"

"I'm always up f'r poker," Remy said.

"Like I'm gonna stay here when you're all leaving," Belle said, crossing her arms and glaring at Lapin.

"I'll go, but I ain't gonna play against Remy," Lapin said.


"Better a coward than a looser."

Two of the others Margot had led out turned back to the party, and the last wandered off, staggering a little in his steps. "Guess dat leaves us," she said. They wandered down Esplanade Avenue, gave false directions to a couple of passing tourists looking for Bourbon Street, and thought briefly about doorbell ditching one of the local mambos; they decided against it when they heard the screechings of some Gede-possessed houngan1 inside. It was always best to leave folks who dealt in spirits alone, something every kid born on the streets of the Crescent City early in life.

Margot's house was in a rather cozy corner of the Vieux Carre, if there was any such thing. It was a small place surrounded by banana trees, and obviously empty. None of the lights were on. Her parents were most likely at a Thieves' Guild meeting.

"Come on in," she invited, throwing open the screen porch.

"You cheated!" Lapin yelled, pounding a fist on the table. "You had to! Nobody wins five games in a row, with cards like dem every time!" He nodded toward the hand Remy had thrown down onto the table. All aces.

"I didn't cheat," Remy repeated, a grin starting to creep up around the edges of his mouth. He folded his arms behind his head and leisurely leaned back in his chair.

"It's not humanly possible t'win do many games in so short a time!" Lapin glanced at the clock on the wall. "Ten games in a' hour?"

"Wit' breaks t'get more soda," Belle put in.

Remy shrugged smugly. "Shoulda gone wit' ya instincts and not played against me."

Margot sighed and stood up. Her hand had been worse than Lapin's. "I t'ink I've been beaten well enough for one night," she said.

"I'm not quittin' 'till he looses a game," Lapin said, glaring at Remy. "If he can..." Lapin was closer to angry than any of them had ever seen him.

"I didn't cheat," Remy said, his brow furrowing at the inclination.

"Let's see up your sleeves," Belle said.

Lapin nodded. "Yeah."

"I was just kidding, 'pin." Belle watched as Remy rolled up each sleeve, revealing nothing. She grinned evilly. "How 'bout we make him strip, jus' t'make sure?"

"Tsk tsk, Belle," Remy scolded, "not in good company! And I meant Margot's, not yours," he added for Lapin.

Margot rolled her eyes. "Are you gonna start playing another game, or sit around yakin'?"

"I'll deal," Lapin said, gathering up the cards.

"Fine. Good luck."

"Lapin, you can't shuffle worth spit," Belle said.

"He'll shuffle dem somehow dat he gets all the aces. I know he will."

"Now you're being paranoid." She grabbed the cards from him and shuffled them, then dealt to them both.

Remy picked up his cards and glanced at them. "He got all de aces again, didn't he?" Lapin accused as a faint smile crossed over his opponents face.

"Oh yes, Lapin. All of dem. I shuffled it that way, and everyt'ing," Belle sighed. "Just play de game, y'idiot."

Lapin looked at his own hand and blushed. He had both the ace of hearts and the ace of diamonds.

"You know why I win?" Remy said. "You give away everything with your expressions. You've got aces. I can tell."

"Not t'mention dat he can't bluff if his life depends on it," Belle put in.

Lapin groaned, then threw his cards down on the table. "What's de use? I'm gonna loose anyway."

"Now y'givin' up? Jeeze, Lap', what's up wit' you?"

"I t'ink he drank some o' de punch," Belle sniggered.

"So I wanted t'make sure it wasn't too obvious it was spiked, okay?" he pleaded.

"You mean you actually did? Lapin, how stupid was dat?" Remy asked, eyes wide.


"Nevermind," Remy sighed. He stood up and helped Lapin do the same. "I gotta get you home."

"Yeah.... no! Rosie'll kill me!" he realized. "She c'n smell booze faster dan a hound dog c'n smell a coon."

"Den you'll t'ank me generously after I sneak you in wit'out her seein' ya."

Austerely, Remy put a hand out to help Lapin up, but the blonde waved it away. "I'm not dat drunk," he mumbled, and then lurched into his cousin.

Remy, caught off guard, fell back, flinging one hand out in a failed attempt to catch himself before he crashed down, Lapin flailing on top of him. "Watch it, ya moron!" he yelled. Then he heard Belle's gasp, and looked up.

The leg of the chair, where he had tried to grab it, was glowing. He blinked, watching the glow grow a bit stronger. "What de-"

Suddenly, the wooden leg exploded, splinters of it flying around the room as a great burst of light momentarily blinded them all. The chair crashed down, unable to stand on three legs. And then it was quiet again.

They all stared at Remy. He stared at the chair.

"Remy?" Belle whispered.

He glanced up at her, speechless.

"Remy, I never seen not'in' like dat. Like you was some Assassin, wit' de power," murmured Lapin, in awe. "How'd you-"

"I ain't no Assassin!" Remy yelled, springing up. "I don' know how I did dat!" He stumbled backwards, as though he had suddenly gone weak at the knees.


"Leave me be!" he shouted, and ran out the door.

Out the door, and down the street, through the St. Louis cemetery and finally to his own home, never slowing down his pace, if anything, speeding up. He crashed through the door and ignored Rosie's annoyed cries, rushed into the library, and collapsed at his father's feet.

If he had been human, he might have laughed, even cried, in happiness. But he wasn't, and he didn't. Even so, a smile crossed over his grey face, revealing teeth not unlike a wolf's fangs.

His experiments had worked. His meddlings with his son's very genetic makeup hadn't all been for naught- even now, untrained and young, Remy had exhibited incredible power. The boy would be one of the strong, one of the survivors the creature had spoken of.

And if Essex's first try had been so successful...

Imagine what he could do next.

1Gede-possessed houngan...: Gede, the Voodoun spirit of the dead and also of sex, is known to posses his followers for days at a time. Houngan are Voodoun priests; as said before, mambos are Voudoun priestesses.


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