Madame O had allowed Rose a moment to change before instructing her to meet in the Grey Room downstairs. Rose scoured the room for her previous clothes, only to find them torn, bloody, and cut into pieces from them having to take it off her in the trash. She scowled as she then proceeded to pour over the contents in the large wardrobe. There was not one piece of conventional looking clothing. Everything was either leather, skin tight, short, or fashionably uncomfortable. And when Rose finally left the room she was met by a pink haired female who introduced herself as Elina Redfield, a doctor and the person who was taking care of Rose’s wounds.
Rose quietly thanked her and followed the woman down the winding staircase, further underground, through a series of richly decorated hallways and alas into a plush looking room. The Grey Room was like all the rest of the underground lair, richly designed and decorated. Elina signaled Rose to have a seat before she herself sat down beside her. She seemed to be watching her with a keen eye. Rose shifted her gaze from the girl, who looked too young to be doctor…and not really dressed to suit the part either to the individuals that entered the room.
Madame O entered the Grey Room, followed by River. Rose’s eyes followed River as he chose to sit a chair down from her. This was the first time she ever really saw him in the brightness of light. He was pale like any blood drinker, his face was chiseled with lines that caught every light source, giving him shadows that added more to his mysterious air. He cast his grey eyes towards Rose but once, his mouth in a sharp line. He sat quietly and devoid of emotions as he centered his attention to Madame O.
Rose followed him and moved her gaze from him to the only woman in the room that commanded attention: Madame O.
Orpheus studied the young girl opposite from her. Rose stared at her defiantly back. Orpheus took a moment to appreciate the silence; there was no denying that Rose Cassidy Brynn really was Rose Cassidy Brynn. Orpheus could trace every feature on the girls face to her mother and father, but the person that she resembled the most was her grandmother, Cassidy. She had to look twice to truly differentiate that this was a descendant of the beautiful woman she had the pleasure of being friends with.
Rose was the one to break the silence.
“You said there were things we needed to talk about…like why I am here…why my parents were killed, why I was kidnapped, why I – -“
Orpheus cut her off with a solitary gesture of her hand.
“Let’s start from the beginning Rose. From the very beginning…perhaps then you can piece it all together.”
Orpheus seemed to relax then, her upright posture changed to a slump as she laid herself back into the cushions of the couch, her legs crossed comfortably.
“Do you like coffee? Tea? Juice? Wine?”
Rose shook her head, “Im alright….”
“Come now, you must have something…I bet your even hungry…Elina…get someone in here with some coffee, tea, and a platter of assorted foods. She must be starving after her ordeal and all that saline you had dripping into her.”
Elina nodded and walked to the old fashioned telephone on the table. She spoke in hushed tones before hanging up and returning to her seat.
“Rose, has you parents ever told you anything about your grandparents?”
“No, we were always on the move, we never had time to discuss anything about the past.”
Orpheus nodded, “Pardon me, but that was entirely foolish on their part. Not preparing you for what you were, where you come from, the history of it all.”
“Oh, don’t look at me so evilly child. For them to leave it all to me to break it to you was entirely selfish.” She waved her hand away.
“That’s not even the beginning..” She sighed.
“A very long time ago, probably about 340 years ago, the government was working on a secret weapon for a war that was brewing with the European nations. It was not in full swing yet, the war, but it was near the breaking point. Troops were being deployed to hold posts over seas. The government, being what it is spent million…billions of dollars developing a secret weapon. This weapon was labeled Project DNA. It was supposed to alter regular human DNA to be better. No disease, no weakness…they would be super fast, massive strength, ability to see in the darkness, faster blood clotting times…God…it was a beautiful weapon, and it would have really been something amazing if it only worked correctly.”
When Orpheus paused, Rose took advantage of the moment to interject her thoughts,
“I have never heard of Project DNA….”
“Well I would be surprised if you knew about it, only a handful know about its existence. My father and Rick Black’s father worked together on this secret military weapon, that is how we met. Except we decided to go into business together, marketing new products that the scientists were producing.”
Memories seemed to flash before Orpheus’s eye, better days those were.
“Rick somehow got very involved in Project DNA. He brought me into it and I saw first hand how it worked. They started with animals, and it worked beautifully on Chimps. It was scary how they grew, how intelligent they became. They started experimenting soon on humans, death row inmates. At first Project DNA proved to be exactly what it should be. It enhanced these humans like nothing I have ever seen. It did not last long though. They began to display very aggressive behaviors. One morning we went in and…it was a bloodbath.
The last remaining survivor was gorging himself on blood. His canines had grown considerably in size to accommodate his need to pierce flesh. They contained him, only to find three days later that he had died. They did not realize that blood was his nutrient and only source of food. Without it his body deteriorated so quickly…his skin turned necrotic and sloughed off in chunks. So…it was back to the drawing board to figure out what went wrong. It seemed hopeless because they could never figure out how to stabilize the serum….how to make it work. It was beyond their comprehension obviously, the finer aspects of it that is.” She paused then as a knock at the door turned their heads.
Rose was enraptured by this history lesson. She paid no attention to the human that brought food in, but it soon caught her eye that that person was indeed human. She opened her mouth to ask but River actually beat her to it. It seemed he was watching her more closely than she thought to pick up on her reaction of the other human.
“There are many humans under Madame O’s protection. Almost all live here, so you will see a lot of them walking around. Some chose to be blood donors to vampires, some chose to live outside in the Sectors, though it’s hard to build a family when there are rogues around…no matter if they are under Madame O’s protection. Il y a tellement de choses que vous pouvez controller, There is only so much you can control.”
Madame O reached for an apple. She bit into it and swallowed. When a vampire had fed on blood, they can eat because then their body worked enough to digest the food, otherwise the food would stay in their stomach, decomposing by itself and that thought alone was disgusting enough to turn plenty vampires from eating regularly, especially since their taste buds did not work and everything remained tasteless.
“River is correct. You will see a lot of humans down here.”
Rose nodded and looked from River to Madame O, “I see..please continue with Project DNA, I can assume that they figured out how to work it, right?”
Orpheus chewed thoughtfully, “Correct. But it took a long time for them to figure it out. The serum was too potent, and too much was being given to an individual…too much for the body to use and incorporate into itself. So by experimenting with tapering and mixing the serum with other agents that would reduce its potency…as well as altering some parts of the atom structure that were extreme, the serum began to work as it should. Now, they still did not realize that the serum killed a person’s inner body and reworked the body to its own need…they did not realize that a person now only needed blood to function.”
“How could they not have known this? Weren’t they checking the humans they were experimenting on completely?”
Orpheus shook her head, “Sadly no. Because of the impending war, they just pushed a serum they considered completed onto military soldiers. They had incomplete testing done, incomplete data…its was sickening when I heard about it. And I was even more sickened when I had heard that Rick Black was the one that pushed it. Our fathers sided with him; that it looked good enough to mass produce and that while the war raged they would do more testing. You have to understand that to release something that was not yet ready, was dangerously stupid. There was an 80% chance that the serum would work how they wanted it too…what about the other 10% chance that it can all go horribly wrong I had asked. They told me that they were only going to inject a handful of soldiers…and monitor them. I believed them, but—“
“They didn’t.” Rose finished for her. “You mean to tell me that this big ‘accidental’ chemical spill was not accidental at all…but actually intentional?”
Orpheus nodded sadly.
“Yes…I suppose you can tell what happens next.”
Rose nodded, “The 10% chance was what occurred.”
“Yes…back then the bite was infectious and those soldiers who were injected passed Project DNA through their bite….and because the serum was still unstable it got really out of control. Seemed that the serum reverted back to its old state, or something was lost in translation through the bites and people became aggressive…those beginning years with the outbreak were horrible…bloodshed was everywhere. Because they had given it to soldiers who were also overseas, we caused a global infection. The government had to build safe havens for humans.”
“When did it all change?” Rose asked.
Orpheus smiled then, “Your grandparents, Rose; Cassidy and Michael Foster.
They were young, very young scientists that were new in working with the government. Because they were quite brilliant the government had recruited them. Within a year they both were able to locate the problem with the serum and fix it. They were truly magnificent beings Rose.”
Rose looked at her a little open mouthed, disbelief etched in her expression.
“My grandparents stabilized the serum?”
“Yes…they did. Within 5 years the bloodshed ceased and the vampires were able to lead normal lives without blood being their main point of action. The serum gave them everything that it originally was aimed at giving them. They still needed blood, but they did not need it every day like before. They could now live for weeks without the need for blood. It was quite impressive, there was no downside to this any longer. Sun was of course still bad because it deteriorated the skin due to lack of live cells, but we now had things of nightmares walking around us…Vampires. There was still such panic from humans, because even though some were trying to lead normal lives there are still those that liked the taste of blood and some even chose not to take the revised serum so there were still blood thirty revenants out there. Humans were rightfully scared.” She paused before she continued. “It was not long before the government began endorsing the public use of Project DNA. They thought that turning all humans was the answer to the growing rogue problem. Of course we know now that it was not. But either way they first started easily, promoting the use of Project DNA. Billboards were filled with advertisements of the good that it did, the wonders it did. It appealed to everyone, but only the rich were the ones capable of procuring this serum. Then you know that it became mandatory for all humans to be injected with the serum. Everyone went serum crazy. God, I remember it like it was yesterday. Understandably my friendship and partnership with Rick was over. He did something horrible…wrong. The world would not be the way that it is if he had only supported me and not pushed for the early release of Project DNA.” She shook her head pitifully.
That catapulted Orpheus to remember the numerous fights she and Rick had after. They were on opposite fences of beliefs. Because of Rick’s involvement with Project DNA their growing business of marketing new inventions collapsed as neither could stand to be around the other. Rick was always trying to get Orpheus to see that the serum would only be good, that it could only bring good and Orpheus was trying to show him how wrong it was, how many lives they had killed and butchered, how it was not a way of life.
Orpheus looked from her perfectly manicured hands to Rose. “But Rose, I still have not told you why you are so important, now have I? Lets see…after they pushed the Serum, things changed. Safer cities were built to keep the ‘civilized’ in and the uncivilized out. Humans were also protected by laws, but that soon changed since blood was still needed. That’s where your grandparents come in once again. They were few of the scientists who kept their humanity. They developed the synthetic blood. And of course Rick Black, who by this time was now having full weight to pull with the government took it and marketed it. Blood was no longer needed! All thanks to your grandparents, humans can breathe easier inside these safe walls. But, Rick turning into whatever he turned into started taking bribes. For an exorbitant price, people could ‘buy’ humans and blood. Children under 18 were sold and used for their blood. When they turned 18 they could continue to be a blood donor to the person that purchased them or they could take Project DNA and become a vampire. For the older humans, Rick had human farms.
They are housed in large, well secured and discrete buildings all over the United States. There I am told that they live and weekly give blood. None of this is by choice either.”
Rose listened, she remembered her parents speaking of such things. It was such a horror to imagine. She swallowed hard at the thought of people she knew suffering that fate: to live forever inside a box, feeding the outside world your blood. The thing that she found most fascinating though was her grandparents. How come her mother never spoke of her parents? They seemed like amazing individuals. Twice they thought up of ways to fix the world. Not only did they stabilize the serum, but they developed Synthesis, a global company now that allowed humans a chance to survive. But what was the government doing? They were still exploiting the human race.
Orpheus continued, “Through all this I was still working in the science department. I was one that helped with the production and marketing of the Synthetic blood. I knew Cassidy and Michael well. They were the only reason I stayed, or I would have left everything.”
Rose looked at her, trying to read that glasslike face.
“Were you really that appalled by it all? Or are you saying it just for my benefit?”
Orpheus returned the look. She studied the young face before her, “Yes Rose…I did find what they were doing wrong. I found it wrong the moment that they released Project DNA. I might have been eager to see it in action, I might have been money hungry too, I might have loved the discovery of new things and too be apart of something that could change history….but I know what was wrong and what was right. See Rose, I had values and standards, nothing can make me budge when I believe in something enough. And I believed in the human race.”
“Then why are you one of them?”
Orpheus narrowed her eyes and had a look of distaste on her face to match.
Her voice hardened as she replied, “It was not by choice Rose, and you will find that a lot of us here were given Project DNA not by choice too.” She replied curtly and left it at that, although her eyes flicked to River before they averted to the table. It caused Rose to look at the quiet man sitting just a chair away from her.
His grey eyes looked from Orpheus to her. She felt almost embarrassed to have caught the exchange, a secret unintentionally aired in front of a stranger. She looked away quickly.
A moment of silence passed in the Grey Room.
Elina broke the silence. “Besides the two extraordinary achievements that your grandparents rendered into the world, they developed one other.”
Orpheus seemed to snap out of her haze of remembrance to nod at Elina.
Elina stopped but Orpheus waved her to continue.
Elina kept it short and sweet, “Your grandparents believed they could find a way to reverse Project DNA altogether.”
Orpheus spoke quietly, “Unfortunately the government, Rick Black, and all the bigwigs were making too much money from their blood slaves, selling of humans, and Synthesis…for them to want to consider a cure.” Rose looked back and forth between Elina and Orpheus.
“What are you trying to tell me?”
Orpheus stood up then, “Rose, when the government wouldn’t give them approval to test on subjects, your grandparents experimented on themselves. I know before I said that they were of a few who kept their humanity, well it was soon enforced that all those working under the government had to take Project DNA. Michael took it and begged them to allow Cassidy to give birth before she took it. She was pregnant with your mother. Your grandparents, somehow I don’t know how were able to locate Project DNA within a person, locate it specifically without killing any other part of a cell.”
“How did they do it?”
“They used human blood, specifically your grandmother. I am not sure on the specifics, but I know that your grandmother used her own blood to fashion a virus that could enter the hosts body, seek out and destroy Project DNA.”
Rose had a dreaded feeling where this was going, it burned her stomach.
“I was the only person who watched them go through this Rose. I saw – I saw your grandfather go through the change….I thought he was going to die again Rose. And when his heart started beating, I knew it had worked.” She laughed then.
“It was incredible, and like nothing I have ever seen before. I mean I have lived through and seen some pretty amazing things, but to see someone live again after they are dead…it’s a faith shaking kind of thing.” She said looking at Rose. “They can call it whatever they like can’t they Rose? But we are dead…
I went to my father and told him about this. I told him that a cure was developed Rose, it was rough around the edges but it was cure, Michael was proof of it working. Do you know what he told me? He asked me, who wants a cure?”
She was silent for a moment before she continued, remembering that day. “I did not know what danger I had put your grandparents in. I thought that at least my own father would fight for me, would be on my side….I was wrong. He went straight to Rick Black, who at the time had taken his father’s place on the Board. Funny that his father preferred to die as a human than take Project DNA when he was a main supporter behind forcing it.” She shook her head in disgust. “Either way, Rick ordered the imprisonment and execution of your grandparents. They all seemed to disregard the walking miracle that was your grandfather. He was a living, breathing, born again human. Because it was my fault that they were in this danger, this position now, I helped smuggle them out. I sometimes think that if I had not confided in my father then they could have worked in secret, utilizing the lab and tools they had to make a cure that could be mass produced. Your grandparents left and so did I. I left Synthesis, with a few key people that supported me and created my own haven.” She said with a spread of her hands.
“What happened to my grandparents?”
Orpheus sat down again, crossing her legs and sighing, “I kept track of them, and they kept in contact with me. I found out that your grandmother had injected herself with the virus that was used to kill Project DNA in your grandfather. It was very unstable, not even in a good stage yet to inject it into a regular human and not worry about the consequences.” She rubbed her eyes. “It was their way of keeping it. It did not harm her though because she was not infected and it was her own blood that was used to make it, or so they assured me when I worried about the baby. The last letter I received was from Michael.
He said that Cassidy had died giving birth to little baby girl Allium. He informed me that he had taken a bit of her blood to test, and found that she did not carry the virus at all, that it probably did not cross the placenta. He also informed me that he had to move from the place that I had found for them because it was becoming more and more dangerous to live out in the open as humans. He said that how at night there were raids from the military, capturing humans. That was the last time I heard from him. Years and years passed, I had a terrifying feeling that they were all dead. It wasn’t until 30 years ago that some of my own spies tracked your mother down. And it wasn’t hard actually, for she was the spitting image of Cassidy, as you are of both of them. I kept in contact with your mother and soon your father as an ally here behind that menacing wall. Allium told me that her father had been killed by rogues when she was 13. He did not die without letting her know the real history though, the triumph that himself and Cassidy had discovered. The only reason she trusted me was because Michael had told her about me and that if I should ever come to her aid or contact her, that she must trust me.” She looked at Rose’s face and recalled having conversations with that face when she had snuck out past the Boundary to meet Allium, so similar it was. It gave a sense of déjà vu and she had to shake herself out of it when she realized that she had gone silent.
“You see Rose, I am a selfish woman. I did not want to believe that the cure died with your grandmother. Michael did not have the labs that we had, the tools. He had some makeshift thing that he used to examine your mother’s blood. I needed to know, to be sure that it was really gone. Your mother sent me a sample of her blood and hair. It was John, I believe you have met him.”
Elina stiffened a little beside Rose, causing her to toss a glance in her direction before she returned her attention to Orpheus.
“He was the one that took apart your mothers DNA. He found that little miracle structure hiding there…see the virus had crossed the placenta and attached itself to your mothers chromosomes, it was a recessive trait Rose. Your mother still had it!” For all the time that she was talking this was the most excitement that her eyes held. She leaned forward a little bit.
“We just could not access it because it was dormant. John has been working on it, but the samples that he has are so out of date, fragile, old…dead. We could not receive anything from your mother anymore after that one sample because it was very risky. The rogue situation out in Dead Valley had increased tenfold, on top of that the military was not hunting in secret anymore, they were a full force out there. This is where you come in Rose. This is why Rick wants you so bad Rose. And just like I have my spies he had his. He knows that your grandmother took the cure, and that combined with your grandfathers renewed life cells, he figured out that it was something that would be passed along through generations. My sources tell me that he wants to find out if the cure really is real and if it is, if you have it in you as a dominant trait, something that can be taken and harnessed and used to make another version of an even stronger cure, then he will kill you. This cure is the worst thing that could happen to the government, to Rick Black, Synthesis. It will crash everything that they have known around their feet. Because believe it or not, vampires are not that excited about living forever anymore. Many wish they had their humanity back…many want children…a life of basking in the sun and eating food. She picked up the red apple in front of her that she had not finished.
“This is nothing for us. We can eat it, but there is no taste, without fresh blood taken into our bodies it will sit in our stomachs and rot away.”
Rose stared at her, disbelief that she was carrying the cure within her body.
“I know it’s a shock Rose. But we need to test your blood. Can you imagine a world where humans were dominant again?”
Rose looked up at the eager face of the woman she was supposed to trust. Could she imagine that? Wasn’t it something that she had dreamed of since she was a child? Was it not something her heart ached for? And now to know that she might hold the key to it all, within her very own body…it shocked her. She was so insignificant, was so lost in a world that was chaos and blood. Could she really be the hope that humanity had been waiting for?
Her thoughts were left unfinished, her feelings left unexplored, her shock left in full gear with no chance to wear off as someone burst into through the door. It was another vampire.
Orpheus stood up and the eagerness and excitement that had filled her face was gone,
“What is it Billy?”
Hey there guys and gals! I do hope that you enjoyed this chapter thoroughly and also you find that most of your questions were answered! It was fun to write this chapter because I loved showing the history behind everything. The history was slowing eating away at me and forcing me to write it out. XD This is probably the longest chapter I have ever written and was planning on separating it into different parts, but I think its better to give it all in one dose. Also, anyone else wondering why Elina is looking so peaked? ;}
Also on another note, I have updated the character profiles to include the Fosters. :]
Thanks in advance for all your comments and support! ❤