Author's Note: This character study was written 26/05/03 and was posted at The Conclave (with astonishing unsuccess). As we know virtually nothing of Ames White, nor even Sandeman's first name, this story aims to give some depth to Ames, his father, and the Familiars. The majority of this essay is a matter of my filling in the blanks. Feel free to disagree, but I hope this will sound at least half-way plausable to anyone bored (or pedantic) enough to read it. :)
R E G E N E R A T E
A character study into the psyche of Ames White
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Re. gen. er. ate [v. ri-jen-uh-reyt; adj. ri-jen-er-it] –verb (used with object) 1. to effect a complete moral reform in. 2. to re-create, reconstitute, or make over, esp. in a better form or condition.
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Growing up within a world filled with monsters is a thought that most people would find difficult to comprehend. To many it would bring to mind images of nightmarish creatures wandering openly down the streets, ripping up lawns and tearing the heads off passer-by's with razor like teeth.
Of course, for Ames and CJ Sandeman, the reality was a different picture entirely. The nightmarish creatures existed - though they were not quite as far fetched or terrifying. And their environment was much, much more controlled. The brothers had never been close. They were not children who worked well with others. Few examples had ever been set for them as to how a child was supposed to behave. But then, given the environment they were raised in, you could expect that.
The eldest of the two, Ames, had only briefly known his mother. She had died at the birth of his younger sibling and although he had vague memories of a dark haired woman with smiling eyes, he was not one to dwell upon such things. You couldn't change the past and there was no point lamenting over that fact. You could only make the most out of your future. He had learnt this from his father and was proud to admit it was one lesson he took to heart.
His brother on the other hand, was much more fragile.
From an early age it was clear to see that the youngest sibling was not the 'boy wonder' their father had expected. While it was perfectly normal for children of their superior breeding to take their first teetering, solitary steps from six months of age, CJ had still dragged his knees across the floor when his first birthday arrived. As years passed, it became apparent that he would never pass the Proving; the Rite of Passage that was required of the boys. Because of this, their father became increasing obsessed with finding a way to save the youngest son from the fate of death that no doubt awaited him.
Their father, Lucas Sandeman, was a scientist. An expert in the field of bio-technology. Years before the birth of the boys, he had discovered major breakthroughs in genetic research and carved a new future in transgenic technology. However, his genius was kept well beneath the radar of both the public and other professionals in his field. His papers were never published in scientific journals, and he was never invited to give university lectures. The purpose for Lucas' work was far too important to be jeopardised by the superficiality of fame. The only people to know of the miracles created in his laboratory were a few trusted employees at a company that, officially, did not even exist.
Over the years Lucas' purpose for the work he did, had undergone several face-lifts. Though it wasn't an interest his religion encouraged, science had always fascinated the man. When he started to dabble in bio-technology, such fascination became Lucas' driving force. More so than the very system of beliefs his people were so devout to.
Lucas Sandeman and his sons were not ordinary humans. Their kind were a pedigree amid a seething mass of mongrels. Five thousand years worth of selective breeding had produced them. However it was feared by some of his people, that such breeding would not save them when the time came to face that which they had been preparing for throughout the generations.
Thousands of years earlier, far before normal humanity had any ability to comprehend, a great comet had passed the planet, scattering a deadly pathogen in its wake. As a result, many of the world's creatures had been wiped from existence - except for those who had been strong enough to survive.
It was said by his people, that many millennia after the comet had passed, a Great Goddess had come down from the skies, and chosen a human to teach her great Mysteries to. She told him what the future held, taught him the process of selective breeding, and warned him that such care was crucial if they were to survive the comet when it passed once again - as the next time, the death that accompanied it would be stronger.
The Goddess had then unwrapped the snakes that adorned her waist and arms, and handed them to the newly enlightened man, warning him to look after the reptiles as carefully as he would his own children. Within their blood was the very death the great light in the sky had brought with it, and those strong enough to survive the blood of the snakes, would be initiated into her protection. They were the Pure who would produce children superior to all other beings on the planet. Evolution had to be enhanced, or no one would survive the future.
Fortunately the man whom the Goddess had chosen to communicate with, was as intelligent as he was strong. He passed on her Mysteries through his children, and they to their own. In time the Goddess' doctrine became religion. The cult that rose from the teachings of the Snake Goddess kept their knowledge and abilities closely guarded from the weak and unworthy. They were a species of their own. Superior. And as their strength grew, so did their arrogance. They cared only for themselves and their own kind. The fate of those further down the ladder of evolution were not their concern. Why should it be? What was the point in caring for those they could not save anyway?
Raised within this cult - 'Familiars' as this species called themselves - Lucas Sandeman knew well the importance of their strength and survival. Time was far too short, the signs which his people had been preparing for were coming to fruition. Soon the great comet would come again and his people were still not ready. Many of them failed the initiation into the Mysteries. But Lucas Sandeman felt he could save them.
Stripped of ritual, the Proving was nothing more than a test of the pathogen carried within the snake blood. The very pathogen which would rain upon them in the future when the comet completed it's cycle once again.
Lucas was of high standing within the Conclave - the council who governed over the familiars. But he was also a man of science and as far as he was concerned, the process of selective breeding was as barbaric as the religion his people followed. The survival chances of his kind could be greatly enhanced by technology and science. Genetic engineering could push evolution by centuries - in just a matter of a years.
But first, Lucas had to ensure his programme would be a success. Once he could show the Elders a perfect being, created by himself, he could convince them. Of this he was fervently sure.
And when Lucas Sandeman realised his youngest son CJ would never survive the test, his cause became that much more personal.
From a young age, the Sandeman children had grown up around the various results of their father's experiments. They had watched gene cells transform into embryos, and then birth as creatures who would fail to draw breath and die within the first few moments of their life. They had witnessed their father's work progress to the point where some of his creatures eventually survived a matter of days. However, lacking the crucial development needed to sustain life, these early malformed beings would falter and die. Such was their gross distortions, it was a small mercy they had not suffered through life long enough to realise their own deformities.
Eventually, with much trial and error, the modern day Frankenstein made what was regarded at last as a success. The subject of his exuberance was a creature that was too dog to be human, and too human to be dog. A freak of course, but one that not only survived the first few days following birth, but grew stronger with every passing day, displaying no signs of organ failure unlike his predecessors.
A living transgenic. Composed of both human and animal DNA. A freak of nature. But being that it's creation was hardly natural, this fact was exactly what Sandeman had hoped to achieve.
After the successful birth of this human-canine hybrid, the rest followed with relative ease. The basic formula for a living transgenic had been developed and from there on, it could only be improved upon. With each new batch of experiments turning out reasonably successful - at least in the sense that they didn't immediately die - Sandeman had many living organisms to study, cut up, and learn from. Thus enabling him to isolate bad genes and produce a slightly more successful transgenic the next time around.
Soon enough the two sons found themselves living within what seemed like a Picasso painting. Creatures so obscure their genetic origins were incomprehensible - the world of the young Sandeman brothers had become a nightmarish Noah's Ark.
How would such an environment affect the development of a child, when playmates were creatures you stared sullenly at through reinforced glass and iron bars?
One would expect that a child who had grown up around mutants and witnessed their progression from grotesque to perfection, would either turn out a genius or a raving lunatic. Lucas Sandeman's sons were a little bit of both, and each more of one than of the other. Of course, it had never been in the plan; to expose these boys to such an environment. But Lucas' work was crucial to his cause, therefore the children simply had to learn to fit in amid his various creations. Besides, Lucas felt that his sons should follow in his way of thinking, and what better way than to condition them to the concept of a genetically-engineered future?
Lucas was proud of his work. With each day that passed, he felt he was drawing closer to the time when he could at last show his breakthrough to the Conclave. And given his high rank amid them, he felt no doubt that he would convince them his way was the best way for their future.
Unfortunately, so obsessed was he by his work, so blinded by his own arrogance - Lucas never stopped to consider just how set in their religious belief his race were. Nor did he notice that the years were flying by and those he should have cared about the most - his own children - were suffering from the absolute absence of everything young children needed. Warmth, affection, love, guidance - and at least one functioning parent.
Weakness was not tolerated by their kind, but Lucas was a man who was always drawn towards saving the runt. Not so much out of love, but rather, because it presented a challenge. And over-coming the seemingly impossible always served to feed Lucas' ego.
Though he didn't understand the technicalities, CJ understood that his father was striving to find a way to save his life. Therefore, he knew he was loved. In fact he aspired to be everything his father was. Of course Lucas was pleased by this, and the fact that he knew CJ would never be capable of achieving much beyond the general inhalation and exhalation of oxygen, he favoured him more.
Ames on the other hand, was a son Lucas could never get close to. Not that he made much effort to try. The elder son was a serious, brooding boy who at times made Lucas uncomfortable with his intense stares, and dark scowls. A part of Lucas' conscience told him he should try harder with Ames, who in a way, needed the most out of him. But that was just the problem. Lucas didn't have the time to spare. There was so much to be done. And surely Ames would be understand? He was smart, and strong - he would be the one to follow Lucas' footsteps into the Conclave.
He would survive the Coming.
And so although CJ was the most fragile out of the two boys, it was the boy who was blessed with the advanced physical health normal for his species, who suffered the most from emotional displacement.
Once, Ames had look to his father with awe and admiration. But as time passed, the eyes of Lucas' eldest son were more often than not, filled with jealousy and resentment. While Lucas was sharing out his affection between his flawed younger son, and the first living transhuman he had come to call Joshua, Ames was being pushed further and further away.
Seeing that this was the way things were to be, Ames resolved himself to simply not care. Just as he did with the death of his mother, the young boy began to carefully construct the perfect shield; the complete inability to feel. Lucas failed to notice. He had never noticed the look of quiet adoration that had once upon a time been in Ames' eyes. Therefore he never noticed its absence.
As soon as the first opportunity arose, Ames was sent to the cult-run boarding school in Willoughby where his training into the Mysteries was to take place. Strangely enough, he entered the school at a much younger age than most boys and Ames wondered if it was because of his level of intelligence, or because his father simply wanted to have him out of sight and out of mind. He figured on the later. While his tutors were teaching him to block physical pain, Ames Sandeman quietly taught himself to block out emotions. With an irony a boy his age should not have possessed, Ames noted of that, surely his father would be proud.
At Willoughby, Ames found a contentment he had never felt at home, and especially not at his father's place of work. Ames Sandeman soon threw himself into the teachings of the Snake Goddess. He became a star pupil.
This concludes part one of the character essay into Ames White. Part two will explore his part in the downfall of his father, and how the exile of Lucas Sandeman impacted upon his own reputation.