Chapter 9

The de Chagny brothers were not the only pair in that city preparing for a big night. Nicholas Tesla and Robert Goddard went over their sales pitch as they made their way to a big dinner. Their benefactor, Mrs. Valerius, had invited them to Paris for a dinner party. The French Defense Minister was going to be there as well and Tesla saw this dinner as a chance to sell their nuclear missiles. Over the last couple years they had built over a hundred of them.

Their carriage pulled up in front of the Valerius estate and they both exited. They looked each other over to make sure they looked okay before they walked to the door. Just as they started approaching the door they saw a man storm out of it. He was yelling at one of Valerius's servants who was following closely behind the man.

"I have never been so insulted!" he yelled. "I am the French Defense Minister for God's sake. I can't believe it was just a simple oversight that I was not informed the dinner was cancelled."

"Christine's performance tonight was entirely unexpected," the servant protested. "We just received word a few hours ago. We were so rushed that we forgot people."

The Minister stopped and looked at Goddard and Tesla when he noticed them. "Looks like I wasn't the only one overlooked," he said.

"What is all this about?" Tesla asked.

"Why don't you explain it?" he said to the servant. She looked like she was not happy about being put on the spot, but she explained everything.

"The adoptive daughter of Mademoiselle Valerius is performing the lead tonight at the opera. We only found out this afternoon and she just couldn't miss this. She had to leave in a hurry and left it to us servants to send out the messages to tell everyone the dinner was cancelled. We didn't have a list of everyone's address, so we missed a few people. I am so sorry for the trouble."

"Well, you can't give us back the time we wasted," the minister said as he started walking back to his carriage.

Tesla saw his mark walking away and panicked. "This night wouldn't be a waste if you were to end up discovering a great new weapon for the French government to buy," he said as he ran up to the minister.

The minister stopped on the first step up to the carriage. He looked back at Tesla. The look on his face indicated he thought the man was crazy. "I take it you have some weapon you are trying to sell me?"

"Yes," Tesla said, excited. "My colleague here and I have constructed rockets with nuclear warheads on them. These things are the most incredible weapons that have ever been constructed. The rockets can fly across continents and land on a pinpoint location. The nuclear warheads they carry can level entire cities. With an armory full of these France will never be humiliated by Germany again."

The minister looked at him even more skeptically than before. He looked back and forth between the two men. "If these weapons can do what they say, why haven't I heard about any test of them?"

"Well, we haven't exactly tested them," Tesla admitted.

"Sure you haven't," the minister said in a long and drawn out skeptical tone. He sat in his carriage and closed the door as he looked out at them. "I'll make it short for you two. Don't ever talk to me again."

He signaled his driver and the carriage rode off. "What now?" Goddard asked Tesla.

"We're going to have to find someone else to sell the things to. Maybe the Germans. We should probably think about setting up a test too."

The terminator sat in his box as he waited for the performance to start. He was feeling something that the humans might call excitement. He found his focus disturbed by two well-dressed men in the box in front of him. They were talking loudly and he hoped they would quiet down when the performance started. He really didn't want to have to jump over there and behead them or anything.

When the performance started he was entranced throughout it all. Christine sang perfectly, just as he had taught her. The audience loved her and gave her the kind of ovation they never gave Carlotta. When the curtain call was over he decided to go and observe Christine in her dressing room. He thought that he might even reveal himself to her. He made sure he had his mask covering his metal skull in case it happened.

When Phillip and Raoul entered the opera house they headed directly to their box. Phillip wanted Raoul to meet some people, but Raoul didn't feel like it. Phillip reminded them of their bet and said he wouldn't pay up if Raoul was completely anti-social that night. Raoul refused to stop and talk to anyone so Phillip had to follow him to the box. They bickered the entire time before the opera started.

Right before the opera started Phillip told him he would really enjoy the singing of Carlotta. However, when the lead actress came out Phillip informed him it was not Carlotta. There must have been some last second change they didn't know about. When she began to sing Raoul felt like he had heard her voice before. It took him a second to recall it was the voice of Chrisitne Daae, the girl who he used to vacation with. He leaned over the box to get a closer look and could see the resemblance, it was definitely her and she looked as beautiful as ever.

Raoul spent the entire night enchanted by her voice. He was mesmerized by her entire performance. When they were young he had developed feelings for her, and they all came flooding back to him. When the performance was over he stood and clapped like he never had before. He knew he had to see her and tell her how he felt. He reached into his coat and pulled out a hundred franc note. He handed it to his brother as he told him he would find his own way home.

Raoul had to ask around to find Christine's dressing room. He was told it was at the end of a long hallway and after much searching he finally found the hall. When he was walking down it he saw an awfully familiar face walking in the other direction.

"Mrs. Valerius?" he said to the woman when she reached him.

"Do I know you?" she asked him. The fact she didn't deny the name indicated Raoul was right about who she was.

"I hope you remember me," he said. "I'm Raoul de Comte."

"Your Christine's young friend," she said excitedly. "I mean, you're not young now. You were when you knew Christine."

"Yes, but not so young that I would fail to remember her singing voice when I heard it."

"You know, it really is a miracle that she has it back. She completely lost it after her father died."

"I hadn't heard that," Raoul said. "How long has it been?"

"Four years now," Valerius answered. "I sent her to live here to become a dancer, and instead she received voice lessons and got it back. I can't believe it."

"Who has been instructing her?" Raoul asked.

Valerius became extremely uncomfortable when asked the question. She stayed silent for so long it became apparent she didn't want to answer him. "It doesn't matter who has done it," he said. "I came back here because I was hoping to see Christine."

"That's wonderful, I'm sure she'll be glad to see you. You can walk right in. She's decent."

He said good-bye to Valerius and walked down the hall to the dressing room door. He walked in and heard Christine yelp as she pulled her robe tight around her. He held a hand up to his eyes so he wouldn't see anything.

"I'm sorry," he said as he tried hard to keep his eyes averted. "I ran into your benefactor in the hallway and she said I could just come right in as you were descent. I should go."

"Wait!" Christine shouted before Raoul could take one step. "How do you know mother Valerius?"

Raoul hesitantly glanced at her, and then averted his eyes again. "It's okay for you to look," she told him. "I'm in my robe after all. You just surprised me when you came in."

Raoul looked straight at Christine and was mesmerized by her beauty. It took him a while to gather himself and answer her query. "I know her from the summers you spent vacationing near my aunt's estate. If you don't remember me, I am the boy who jumped into the lake to retrieve your scarf."

"Raoul," she yelled as she ran over to him and embraced him. "It has been so long," she said as she broke the embrace. "What have you been up to?"

"Well, I'm in the army now," he began. "I have some time until I am to join my regiment and my brother thought it would be good for me to come here and see the opera. I was hesitant, but he convinced me to come. I was glad I came, or else I would have missed your amazing performance."

"Thank you," she said. She seemed embarrassed by the compliment.

"Your benefactor said you have been taking singing lessons here."

"Yes," she said simply. She seemed bashful and hesitant to talk.

"Perhaps you can tell me about them over a late meal. That is, if you wouldn't mind going out with me."

Christine appeared extremely uncomfortable and Raoul thought he might have done the wrong thing. "I really shouldn't go out," she began. "My tutor wants to speak to me."

"We could still go out after you talk to them," he said. "I would like to meet this person."

"You can't meet him, Raoul," she said. "I'm not being tutored by a person. My father sent the Angel of Music to me and he has been my tutor."

Raoul knew when a woman was making up lies to try to avoid going out with him, and he was detecting one now. He knew it was best to not take no for an answer. "Of course, Christine," he said. "I don't think the angel will mind waiting. I need to go to my box and fetch my hat. Why don't you change and when I get back we can go out."

Raoul left without giving Christine a chance to reply. "But the angel is strict, Raoul," she tried to say to him as he walked away. He either didn't hear her or didn't care to acknowledge he had. She walked him watch to the end of the hall and then closed the door. She instinctively locked it as well.