This story is based upon the world and characters created by the imaginative minds behind DC Comics, of which I claim no legal rights.
I also do not claim any legal rights to the poetry or song lyrics used to inspire each chapter.
The original characters in this work however were created by me and I do claim the rights to them. Any similarities in names or descriptions to people alive or dead is purely coincidental.
The references and descriptions of locales within cities and places that exist in the real world have been colored with my own imagination and should not be considered accurate.
All references to Gotham City however, are completely accurate... in my world.
Volume 1 - Descention
Book 4 - Fever
Prologue - Inclusion
Damn what I'm becoming
One of them now
Just an opened door
On the endless night
Dark desire burning
In my blood now...
D. Draiman & D Donegan
New York City
Nervous sweat ran down his spine as Horace stepped off the elevator into a dark cavernous office. He was afraid but more than that, he was sick: His stomach rolled, his head pounded and his muscles ached and trembled. There was nothing he could do that could alleviate his misery; no over the counter drug, or anything in his own private stock would help; those drugs just didn't work on him anymore. His wasn't an illness that could be treated, it wasn't really an illness at all, it was more akin to withdrawal.
It was his transformation and it wasn't yet complete. He looked like them, his superiors, with his pale skin, white hair and pink eyes but he wasn't one of them, not yet. He still had to prove himself, he had to show them that he was worthy enough to receive the final gift. Only his employers, leaders… masters could help him now, he was at their mercy and he knew it.
When he first joined them it was a never-ending party. Mardi Gras in New Orleans was only the beginning. After his initiation the party moved to Miami with the drugs, and the money, and the women and all he had to do was recruit others. People like him, people that knew how things worked beneath the bling and the strobe lights in the nightclubs and the private parties where celebrities and the rich pretended to live on the edge; never knowing how close they actually were from a fall they could never climb up from.
Men like him were the ones the beautiful people went to for their designer drugs and party favors. Men like him were their only connections to the underworld, the go-betweens that lived namelessly in the grey zones between the big city lights and the darkness. That was what Nathan Stack had become when he took on the name of Horace. He was charismatic, he could mingle among them, move in their world and fit in. They trusted him because he was discrete and he was always there for them but he didn't really exist. No Horace in any of the cities existed, just as Nathan Stack ceased to exist back in New Orleans. He was now Horace York and he was a phantom.
He was also a foot soldier in a growing army. He didn't know their long term goals, not exactly, he just followed their orders. As a reward he lived among those beautiful people in their neon world and made himself invaluable to them and if he preformed his function well he also received his other reward, he was given another dose and was allowed to live.
Now he needed another treatment. The pain wracked his body and the tremors were growing worse. He didn't want to die like his contact in New Orleans, the man who recruited him, he didn't want to die at all. He had already failed them once because he had been weak. Someone had found out about him, someone had followed him here, New York.
He approached a long black marble desk near the windows. The blinds were drawn back to reveal the city lights but even those lights so far below were too bright for his over sensitive eyes. The chair behind the desk swiveled and a woman's sibilant voice spoke with an Asian accent, "Is it done?"
"Y-yes, it is done."
"I hope for your sake that is true. We do not tolerate mistakes Horace." She hit a button on an intercom panel built into the desk's marble surface then turned a computer monitor toward him so he could see the recording it showed: It was so bright in the dark room and after he blinked away the tears in his red-rimmed pink eyes he looked at the screen. A man that looked much like himself, long white hair, pale skin, red eyes was on his knees. He was surrounded by her black-clad guards, there was no sound but he could see the man begged for his life. He was sick too, Horace could see his hands tremble, just like his own.
She rose from the chair and his eyes followed her, it was so much easier to watch her than the screen. She was beautiful, exotic, almost otherworldly. She was taller than he was and when she stood he had to look up into her unnaturally pale, almost silver Asian eyes. Her silky white hair glowed beneath darker locks of blue-black. Her long thin body moved with an elegant grace inside the black tight-fitting suit she wore. She walked around the desk toward him, she moved fluidly, like she was made of water.
She made only the slightest gesture toward the monitor and when she spoke her voice sounded like silk, almost flirtatious "This one failed us in Gotham City Horace, he lied to us, deceived some of our young warriors into following him then he tried to run from us." Horace pulled his gaze from her back to the monitor and he could tell the man heard her words, he could see him shouting a silent denial. Horace realized this wasn't a recording, this was happening perhaps somewhere in this very building… One of the guards cuffed him across the back of his head so hard he fell to the floor, another grabbed him by his stringy hair and pulled him back up, his nose and mouth oozed blood.
Horace was startled to find that she was behind him now and he hadn't even noticed how she'd gotten there. He could feel her hands move up his back, over his shoulders then he felt her cool fingers wrap themselves around his hot feverish throat. He knew how strong they were, his superiors, he knew she could snap his neck if she chose to.
Other than his ragged breathing he didn't make a move and dared not speak. He heard her words behind him and they felt like silk against his ears. "Do not pity him Horace, he failed us, he failed you. He put everything we have worked for in jeopardy for his own gain… He used us Horace, he used the product to buy weapons. Weapons he had planned to use against us." Horace could see the man shake his head and to try to deny the charges against him.
"Do you remember your initiation Horace? Do you remember the dream?" Horace could only nod as he watched his Gotham City counter-part bleed and sob on the screen. "You are a part of something that will change the world Horace, could make that dream come true. You want your dreams to come true don't you Horace?" Again he nodded, his eyes were glued to the screen but his mind was lost to the memory of that terrible and wondrous night that changed him forever. He was an important part of something grand now, something that really could change the world and he could let nothing get in the way.
Her cool hands caressed his throat, "In his folly he has alerted one of the few that could thwart us Horace. He has set us back months, we have had to pull out of Gotham, for the time being." Horace focused again on the screen, on the man who put everything he had gained and risked everything they had worked for.
Suddenly her hands were gone from his neck and he missed their cool touch. She moved to stand before him again, "What should we do with this traitor Horace?"
He looked up into her strange eyes but was unable to speak. She backed away from him and he was dismayed, he wanted her to touch him again with her cool hands and he almost reached out to her, almost. Instead he looked back to the screen, to the pathetic traitor, the man who would ruin everything and for what? A feeble excuse for an attempted coup?
"What should we do with him Horace?"
He was angry now, he hated the man on the monitor, he was weak, he was useless. Horace looked up at her and resolutely said, "Kill him."
Elation soared within when she smiled at him, "You heard the man…"
On the monitor Horace could see the man's eyes grow wide and before he could mouth another word one of the black guards pulled a long curved sword from a sheath on his back. The sword moved like lightening and faster than his eyes could follow, the black guard had decapitated the white-haired man in one clean stroke. The Gotham City Horace was no more.
She was next to him again, blocking the grisly screen on the monitor with her body and brought a cool hand up to his face and he leaned into her touch. "You have performed admirably Horace, have no fear, you will receive your treatment and all will be well." She reached languidly back across the desk and turned the monitor away again. "You are dismissed Horace."
Regrettably Horace bowed awkwardly as he backed away, "Yes Mistress, thank-you."
Horace walked back toward the elevator but turned when she said, "Horace, you are absolutely certain she has been exposed?"
"Yes Mistress, she was there and wounded, I am certain of it."
"That is good Horace, that is very good." She turned from him, back toward the lights of the city.
Horace York stepped back into the elevator feeling much better than he did when he stepped out of it only minutes before. He smiled with relief, elation and longing. Horace's belief in what they did had been rekindled, what they could accomplish would spread like wild-fire across the country, the world. He would do anything for Niveus Noctis. He would do anything for her.
To be continued...