|The Death of Joham
Author: Gleena PM
At the end of Breaking Dawn, the Volturi were intrigued by Renesmee and Nahuel, but disturbed by the accounts of Joham's activities. After some consideration, Aro decides to dispense justice to the rogue vampire. In the Cold War universe.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Horror - Demetri & Felix - Words: 5,182 - Reviews: 19 - Favs: 18 - Follows: 5 - Published: 01-02-10 - id: 5635731
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Disclaimer: Everything in the Twilight universe belongs to Stephenie Meyer.
AN: I need a new way to thank edward-bella-harry-ginny for reading and critiquing my rough drafts. She's GREAT! She has a brand new one-shot which is set at basically the same time as this one – it's called "Understanding."
Happy 17th Anniversary hubby! (Don't take the content as a comment on our marriage.)
This story would not exist in this form without the AMAZING story by Persephone's Folly called "Huilen's Story." I borrowed her characterizations, descriptions and some names of Joham and family. She also gave me two read-throughs and offered invaluable advice.
You don't need to have read The Cold War to read this one-shot.
Excerpt from The Cold War: Chapter 5
Alice's eyes unfocused, and we were both suddenly transported across an ocean to a familiar stone turret. The vision had no sound, but consisted of a still with Aro, Demetri and Felix. Others were present but appeared out-of-focus, as if their presence in that moment was still undecided. Aro was clearly imparting some information to the others. This vision was followed immediately by a second, now in a rainforest. Demetri and Felix were traveling on foot, accompanied by three others I did not recognize. All were clothed in the usual Volturi garb….
In the end, six of us went: Alice, Bella, Jasper, Emmett, Rosalie, and me. Bella came to protect us from Demetri's gifts. Renesmee and Jacob would have interfered with Alice, and Jacob would have had trouble with the other vampires in any case. The Amazons added three to our number, and so we were nine when we stumbled across Nahuel. He had been stoically unsurprised at the developments. He held no affection for Joham.
The biggest shock was when it was all over. We found Joham's remains, such as they were. And evidence that the three sisters were gone. The scent trails indicated they had left with the Volturi. We could not be sure at the time whether they were specimens for study, prisoners, or willing accomplices. Nahuel was incensed, but there was really no action we could take. Our entire family and all its allies would not be enough to storm Volterra, if indeed the sisters were in need of rescue. Some weeks later, back at home, Alice realized she could not see Aro, Caius, or Demetri at all. Only then did we understand why the Volturi wanted the three hybrid females. They were shields against Alice. We couldn't spy on their plans, and we wouldn't detect Demetri until he was upon us.
The Death of Joham
I stared out the window of the private plane, not seeing the panoramic view of the ocean before me. The waves far below were still visible to my eyes, the shapes repeating over and over into the distance. The curvature of the earth was perceptible to me from this height. The hum of the engines was a monotonous drone in my ears. I was on a mission, but it was nothing new to me. Even the importance of this mission and the uniqueness of its details were not enough to change the atmosphere of repetition.
From behind me, I heard Felix describe yet another exploit to Jacques. I had heard the tale before, even if the story was only days old. After more than a century, Felix and his appetites held no surprises for me. Perhaps the awe I had for his ability to continue to delight in excess could be considered a form of surprise. I debated this point with myself to pass a few more moments.
Farana and her mate Kabir sat silently in the seats across the aisle from my own. They were relative unknowns, new to the Guard. Farana had a minor gift; she could encourage truthfulness in an unsuspecting subject. The gift was minor since any vampire, with forewarning, could resist her. They had come together from India, escaping the continuous warring which took place in that most populous area. Aro was as yet uncertain about their usefulness. Kabir had no gift, although his fighting skills were unquestioned. They were both striking with their dark, long hair and aristrocratic features. The feel of their essences pleased me, bringing to mind the qualities of integrity and devotion.
I took a deep breath. The pilots were human, and their blood scent in the recirculating air had increased in potency throughout the flight. None of us were newborns, and we had all fed the day before. This would not be an issue. I felt compelled to review possible difficulties in the mission; often I was subordinate to Jane, who had a tendency to ignore details since there were few who would dare to annoy her. It would always be left to me to repair any disaster created by her casual indifference.
The vitriol in my thoughts surprised me. I did not chafe at duty.
This mission was unusual in that it was open-ended. Jane had little patience for a true hunt, one in which I had no starting scent. We had little more than a name: Joham. His personality, his origins, his age – all were a mystery. With enough description, I could construct a general feel for the essence of the being, a sense which might allow me to home in on a subject or someone very like them. In this case, I had nothing of value.
I recalled the meeting with Master Aro that had set me on this journey.
"Demetri. I have yet another request for you to use your well-honed skills." Aro sat in a throne-like chair in his private quarters as I knelt before him.
"Master." The thought of serving him once again flooded me with intense joy. At times, even thinking his name could bring a near-physical response. I knew it had not always been that way; I preceded Chelsea in the guard. I had served faithfully before she came, so her interference was neither welcomed nor rejected by me. If the loyalty was now stronger, it could only mean a stronger Guard.
"I am asking you to locate Joham, observe his coven, and then pass judgment."
"Is there a question about his transgressions, Master?"
"No, there is no question. I saw through Carlisle's son that there are tribes of humans who have heard of Joham's activities. They know of him and fear him. That alone is enough to condemn him."
"Yes, Master." I recalled the confrontation with Carlisle Cullen and his heretical coven. The strange hybrid Nahuel had given us the bulk of our knowledge of his sire Joham.
"I need more than his execution, however. He has an important commodity which will be vital to us in the coming years. His daughters must be brought to me. Find out the truth behind his quest to sire these children."
"Perhaps they should all be brought here, Master. You could touch him." I rarely made suggestions to Master Aro, but I felt confident that he was more qualified than I to examine Joham's motivations.
"I do not believe he will come willingly, and I have other business to attend here—"
"We could bring him in pieces, Master," I insisted, looking up at his face. I knew I was overstepping bounds by interrupting, but the willingness or lack thereof in Joham should be of no consequence to Master Aro.
"Indeed," he responded, smiling. "I will leave it to your judgment, Demetri. In any case, the mechanics of the process has already been explained to me as has the gestation period. The most important aspect is procuring his daughters."
"Yes, Master." The honor of being chosen to serve and to lead was overwhelming. There was a point which concerned me, however. "Will you ask Chelsea to reduce the bond?"
"Of course, Demetri. I was going to bring the rest of your party in and have her emphasize your leadership in any case. It won't do for you to be overwhelmed when the hunt could be prolonged."
"Thank you, Master Aro."
I waited as he summoned the others: Felix, Jacques, Kabir, and Farana. Chelsea came as well. When the others arrived, we stood together as Master Aro explained the importance of the mission to the group. He did not mention to them the certainty of Joham's demise.
"Chelsea, Demetri will lead this mission, and it may be quite long." Master Aro did not often give Chelsea instructions. Her work was typically unobtrusive. I was uncertain if it was my imagination or reality, but I thought I could feel the bonds tying me to Masters Aro, Caius, and Marcus ease.
When Chelsea had first come to the Guard, she had been young. Initially, her power had been less noticeable. I found her power only increased the intensity of feelings I had always had: the need to carry out the commands of the Volturi. As time passed and her power grew, the need to serve evolved into a true need, something which bordered on physical desire. I did not question the usefulness of her power, but the strength of the devotion she inspired eventually reached a critical point. On the trips I was required to make away from Volterra, it became increasingly difficult to function. The draw to return to my Masters overruled all the other duties I had. Fortunately, Chelsea had the power to reduce devotion as well as increase it.
The pilot's voice came over the intercom, effectively ending my reverie. "We have been cleared for landing and should be on the ground in Rio de Janeiro within 20 minutes." Full darkness had just fallen. When the morning dawn came, we would be well into the rainforest searching for Joham.
Luck served me well on the search. We crossed a fresh vampire trail on only the third day out from Rio. We were about 300 km west of Brasilia when we crossed the trail, which meandered north. Once the trail was found, it was a small matter to locate the vampire. Fifty kilometers later, the appearance of new scents, not quite vampire yet not quite human, assured us that we were pursuing Joham and his hybrid children. We followed the trail north, passing near several villages, and then the trail turned southwest. We crossed older paths, some old enough that we couldn't determine which direction they led.
"I do not wish to frighten this coven, Felix," I warned. "The crossing paths suggest we are approaching a place the coven has settled. Master Aro has asked me to interview this Joham at length. He also wishes to meet all the hybrid children." The usual surge of pleasure had hit me when saying our master's name, but I was thankfully able to suppress my reaction to it.
Felix rolled his eyes, bored with the warning. He could no more forget our instructions than I, yet the reminder was essential. This was the exact moment that Chelsea's work was necessary. "Do not test me, Felix." I could take Felix, all things being equal. His strength was no match for my speed or experience. With Chelsea's influence, Felix would have difficulty fighting me, the dominant vampire. "I will not disappoint our master."
"Of course. You know I won't disappoint our masters." Felix was grudging. We weren't unfriendly, but he preferred to be my equal.
I didn't worry myself with Jacques, Kabir, or Farana. "We should wear robes. Joham will recognize who we are at once." Robes were duly produced from packs carried by Felix and Kabir. Kabir and Farana's robes were a very pale gray, Jacque's a medium gray, a tone perhaps halfway between white and black. Felix and I wore the darkest; we were like storm clouds at nightfall. I knew I would never wear darker. I did not seek to rise above myself.
I was mildly surprised to find we had come upon a complex of buildings surrounded by a cement wall. There was no clear break in the jungle we traversed; Joham had hidden well. Even satellites would not find his hideaway.
"Is there a gate, sir?" asked Farana.
I motioned to Kabir, who swiftly circumnavigated the enclosure.
"No gate," he reported.
"How would he explain that to anyone?" I mused. This Joham was reckless, or perhaps arrogant. "Felix, Jacques, wait downwind. I don't want them to know they're outnumbered yet." I motioned at the Indian couple to precede me. "Over the wall, then."
The wall was no barrier to vampires, and probably not even the big cats that resided in these jungles. No cat would enter the home of a vampire, though. The wall was show, dressing for a play he could not imagine would ever be witnessed. It still did not prepare me for what was inside the wall.
I could see three buildings, or perhaps edifices was a more appropriate word. The central and largest edifice was a colonnaded porch, built in a Grecian style. There were no walls, only the steps up to the platform, the columns, and the roof. There was carved detail on the triangular front of the roof. I could smell an increased concentration of water which made me suspect there was a pool underneath the roof. It was not visible from our angle. To the left of the Grecian building was a smaller, more conventional building. Something in the architecture reminded me of Spain, villas on the Mediterranean. To the right was a plain stone building. If a human found this and escaped back to civilization, there would be no way to cover this up. All this would need to be destroyed.
Kabir caught my eye and shook his head. He, too, knew we had much work to complete before returning to Italy.
Joham and three females emerged from the Spanish villa. I saw his eyes narrow, but he quickly regained his composure. "Welcome, friends! To what do I owe the pleasure of entertaining the Volturi?"
"You are Joham, I presume?"
"Yes, of course." The three females remained behind him, appearing cautious rather than subservient.
"I am Demetri, emissary from Volterra. These are my companions, Kabir and Farana. Master Aro has asked me to learn about your family." Joham appeared to be highly pleased by this announcement. I took the opportunity to sense him, and I found the flavor not to my liking – rancid oil seemed the best comparison. I would only need to know his essence under an extreme circumstance, however; he was dead already. It was the females I needed to know.
He introduced the three females. There were two dark-haired females, Ake and Maria, and a red-headed one, Luisa. Their names were irrelevant to me, but I sampled their essences. Of the three, only one had an essence which was pleasant to me. One of the brunettes, the youngest one named Maria, hung behind her sisters offering only shy peeks out at us. Her flavor was fresh, but the other two had essences which struck me as overly sweet perfumes, cloying and sticky by comparison. In addition, the older and bolder sisters were watching me with a predatory look entirely at odds with their place. I caught the blood scent of the females, but the scent was diluted with their half-vampire scents. I was relieved; I remembered the male Nahuel and the Cullen child had not attracted bloodlust, but I was uncertain about mature females.
"Luisa, perhaps you could give our guest a tour of the buildings?" Joham suggested, his eyes on me. I suppressed a grimace. A tour with the female would bring me no closer to resolving the issue at hand.
"I would prefer a first-hand account of your history," I objected. I saw Luisa pout out of the corner of my eye, but the opinion of a part-human female was the least of my concerns. The other two females seemed tense; perhaps they were more intuitive than the red-head.
"Very well. I'll show you the living quarters first." Joham motioned me into the villa.
I turned to Kabir. "Stay here." He and Farana nodded slightly, knowing they were to prevent any attempts at escape.
The living quarters were extraordinary, I supposed, given that they were in the middle of a jungle. The linens were in pleasing colors and wide windows kept the rooms well-lit in spite of the heavy vegetation overhead. Living in the Volturi enclave for several hundred years had given me a certain expectation of luxury, and I examined that idea for a moment. I liked to believe that service to our masters was my only desire; it was difficult to admit that I preferred the opulence of the palace.
"As you can see, we have rooms for additional guests. I had hoped one day to expand my family." Joham's obsequious smile revolted me for some reason.
"What of the other building?" I asked. The living quarters gave me no insight about his family, other than his apparent need to make more of these hybrids.
"I saved that for last," he confessed. "It houses my laboratory."
I schooled my features to remain expressionless. What possible use could a laboratory be to a vampire? "Very well. Lead the way."
I followed the strange man out. Farana had engaged the three females in conversation; they appeared to be relaxed now. Her presence on this trip was clearly an asset if she could keep them calm. Kabir was against the outer wall, leaving space for Farana to do her work.
The door to the plain building was made of metal, and when Joham opened it there was a hiss of escaping air. I wondered what possible use that could be, but the escaping air caught my attention. I smelled other vampire scents, very faint. It took great self-control for me to remain upright rather than dropping into a fighting crouch. Instead, I grasped his elbow, and he stiffened.
"What is this?" I asked him pointedly, my hand swirling the scents between us.
"Oh, nothing dangerous, I assure you. Some of my experiments had…surprising results."
I nodded, and released his arm. The scents were faint; I would have to accept that there were no others present. Not for the first time, I wished my gift were more flexible. I couldn't search for essences in a general way; I could only look for someone I already knew. It wasn't possible for me to sweep the building for another presence. I followed Joham down a flight of stone stairs; apparently his laboratory was underground.
The laboratory was one large stone room with a stone table in the center. There were shelves with glass jars on it; I recognized what seemed to be human organs in the jars, and I felt distaste for this unpleasant man. Bare lightbulbs hung from the ceiling; the space would be nearly full dark without them since we were underground. Even vampire sight was useless in full dark. I wondered how he generated the power for the lights. There was a marble statue of a headless male against the far wall in a niche between the shelves, the body in a classic Grecian pose.
I wandered to the jars, and picked one up. "What are you saving these for?" The human organs were useless, as far as I knew. They held no blood.
"I was near the birth of one of my daughters, and I saved parts of the mother for study. I was interested in how the hybrid birth process affected the tissues of the human. See? This shelf has the organs of a normal human carrying a normal child."
I was relatively uninterested, but I knew Aro would find the information fascinating. "Did you find any differences?"
"Not at first. The organs were visually the same. It took more than a hundred years before science advanced enough to study them at the cellular level and understand what I was seeing. The hypothalamus was slightly enlarged in the hybrid-carrying female, and there were cellular changes in the uterus as well. I believe these are related to the hormone oxytocin which promotes bonding between the mother and child. The mothers of the hybrid children are fiercely protective, even before birth. It's a fabulous survival technique. Even before birth, my daughters were demonstrating their superiority."
I wandered away from the human organs toward the far side of the laboratory where the statue was the focal point. I studied it from a distance, realizing as I drew closer that the objects on the shelves near it included a marble leg and several arms. The scent of a another vampire was stronger here, and at once I realized that the statue was no such thing.
"What is this?" I demanded. Nothing I had experienced as a vampire had prepared me for this horror.
"Ah, my experiments." He seemed inordinately pleased with himself; he was pleased to have a new audience, I realized. His posture had changed; he was preening.
"I had questions about our abilities to heal, questions about the time it would take to fully petrify. I turned the humans myself; I would never subject another vampire to such experiments. I removed his head only hours after he completed the transformation." Joham waved at the headless marble body.
"What did you do with his head?" I wondered if the body still awaited reunion with its missing part.
"I burned it, not long afterward. The body was nearly impossible to control until after I destroyed it. It fell dormant soon after." He answered me absently, waving one hand as he studied one of the arms.
"These arms were removed from others I turned. I spaced them fifty years apart; this one is the oldest at nearly 250 years." He moved the arm, showing the joint was still workable. The fingers twitched visibly, but the arm was otherwise quiescent. "I detect a nearly twenty-five percent loss in flexibility, but the rate has been accelerating. I predict a complete conversion to stone in less than 500 years. We may yet find petrified vampires in the Great Pyramids."
"What is the point of the headless body?" I asked. I was pushing a point, but I could still see no reason for this when he had the other body parts.
His eyes shone in excitement. "I have removed and reattached the right arm no less than twelve times. Reattachment has been fully successful each time, but as the body has been depeleted of venom and blood, each subsequent attachment has been slower. The last time took nearly a month." He paused for a moment. "Initially, I thought it might be possible to use the body as a...well, an indestructible servant. I thought it might be possible to teach the body to perform some tasks. Unfortunately, with the head present, the body was uncontrollable, and afterwards….Well, you can see it is no longer active."
I processed this information. Aro would be interested in this data as well, although he might already know this; it was impossible to imagine how much information he had accumulated in his long life.
"What about your daughters and family?"
"Ah. Originally I believed the union of a vampire and a human would be fruitless. Imagine my surprise when I heard rumors of my first daughter's birth. She was a wonder to me – she could survive on blood, but had no venom. She was strong and fast with nearly impenetrable skin, but could go into the sunlight. Her body was hot rather than cold."
I already was aware of hybrid physiology from the meeting with the Cullens. "You speak of her in the past tense."
"She was my first, and I believed that if a human and a vampire produced such an amazing child, our union could be even stronger, but perhaps could pass as human as my daughter could." For the first time, I sensed an emotion in him other than self-importance, but I could feel only revulsion. "Don't you see? My daughters have all the advantages of the vampire life, but none of the disadvantages. They are goddesses among the humans." He was impassioned, pleading almost. "When I took her for the first time, I discovered something else important. The females are not immune to venom, and they cannot be turned. She died after three days. At first, I thought she was turning, but she actually appeared to be in more pain than the transformation." He waved one hand noncommittally as he shook his head. "I considered doing more studies on the effects of venom on the females, but it is difficult enough to procreate with a human that I have had to delay that research."
I had heard enough; I wondered if Master Aro could have known how distasteful I would find Joham. He had given me the prerogative to destroy him at once.
"Joham, you have been judged guilty by the Volturi for your reckless behavior. There are tribes of humans all over this continent who are aware of your activities. For spawning these legends, your life is forfeit."
"You can't. I have so much left to do with my work!" Joham leapt at me, snarling, but I was prepared. Dispatching the guilty had been one of my tasks for hundreds of years, and Joham was no more talented at fighting than the average vampire. Our sparring lasted only a few seconds before I had him pinned, and I did not hesitate to remove his head. He was soon dismembered.
I climbed the stairs, and opened the sealed door. "Farana! Joham agrees that his family can visit Volterra. If you two would lead his daughters back, Joham and I will join you shortly. We have a few more items of business to clear up."
I closed the door quickly. Even the hybrid females were likely to realize that the scent of their father's venom was shockingly strong. I waited until the party was likely to be gone, and then I set out in search of Felix and Jacques. We had a lot of work to do before the compound and Joham's body were no more.
Felix, Jacques, and I caught up with the others about two hours after they had left the compound. They were traveling slowly since apparently the hybrids were subject to fatigue and also not as fast as vampires. I watched as Felix's expression changed as he caught sight of the female trio. Unfortunately, they caught sight of him as well and realized they were outnumbered.
"Where is our father?" asked the red-headed one, her voice an unpleasant screech, her eyes wheeling to me and back to Felix. She clutched at her sisters. One of the darker ones began babbling shrilly at us, but the third, shyer female wept silently.
"Your father violated the law," I told them impassively. "We had evidence of his activity before we came, but everything we witnessed in your compound confirmed that he has flouted the laws of our world. The punishment was death."
The redhead shrieked and launched herself at Felix, of all choices. I could see this would end in instant disaster. I inserted myself between them before she had taken more than a step toward him, and her ineffectual blows struck my shoulders. As I tossed her to the ground, she managed to get her teeth into my hand. The ripping was painful, but there was no accompanying venom sting. These girls would have to learn that, in this world, they were not our equals. Before she had time to blink, I pressed her harshly to the ground, my unbitten hand in a chokehold on her neck and my knee pressed into her stomach. She struggled futilely, pulling on the arm which was cutting off her air, her eyes bulging slightly. The screams from her sister grated on me.
"Your father told you that you were goddesses among the humans. That may be true, but now you are among the vampires. To us, you are worth nothing." I wondered if my speech would have been more effective if I had given it more loudly, but I could give the information no more passion than it deserved. I spoke the simple truth.
"Do not test me again," I told her, releasing her, getting up, and rubbing my torn hand back together. "You can still share your father's fate. Sit with the others, quietly, and your existence will be much more comfortable. Kabir, Farana, watch them. And keep them silent." I could find them anywhere if they ran, but I had no wish to waste more time. The annoying two, the bold ones, were crying although more quietly than before as they shot me harsh looks. For the first of many times on this trip, I found myself wishing that I could let Felix take them. The third female, the one who had been shy before, comforted the others as she continued her silent mourning, but her eyes never left me. I recognized the look she gave me as one of pure hatred.
I motioned to Felix and Jacques, leading them away from the others. "The hybrids are off limits to both of you." Felix's brow knit in annoyance. "Venom is fatal to the females, and I know you don't take women without biting. We'll pick up some others in Rio before we board the plane." I waited for his acknowledgment.
"Master Aro wants these females?" he finally asked. "What are they good for?"
I shrugged. "It isn't my place to question our masters."
"Truly." It was as close to agreement I would get from Felix. "So, any preferences when we hunt in Rio? Beach girls? Bar girls?"
"Please yourself," I told him. "Just bring an extra for me." I looked forward to the release after dealing with these difficult females; I needed something to distract me from the young one's glares. Disposing of bodies from 10,000 meters over the Atlantic would hardly be difficult.
AN2: I had planned to write this from pretty early on in my writing of The Cold War, and actually began writing it in August. Somewhere in there (May), I read Huilen's Story and discovered that Persephone's Folly had seen the same sliminess in the short description of Joham, and she had also put names, descriptions, and characters on the three daughters. I felt like I needed to pay homage to her excellent work, and she graciously gave me permission.
Rec!!! PF has just started an AMAZING!! story called "Dr. Cullen, I presume." Carlisle meets Sherlock Holmes, and if you're a Holmes fan you will NOT be disappointed! I can hear the clopping of hooves on the cobblestones when I read it!