Synopsis: Jeremey finds himself inducted, against his will, into an ancient organization that
claims to protect and guide humanity with supernatural powers. But what happens when the price
of that power is losing the brother he loves?
Disclaimer: This is science fiction. To my knowledge there is no such organization as the Guardians
of Atlantis. Nor is there any such technology as the Esseren, although our scientists are working
hard to correct that lack. If anyone knows something to the contrary, I'd be happy to hear about it.
Disclaimer: Contains incestuous and homosexual relationships between consenting adults, references
to quasi-vampiric sexual acts, and may eventually include graphical descriptions of sexual acts
(between males). If you are offended by this sort of thing, please do not read this.
Disclaimer: The aforementioned sexual relations will not occur for a while. This is a "plot" story
rather than a "sex" story. There will be sex because the main character is a healthy, good-looking
young man with a healthy (if somewhat confused) libido. And also because part of the plot involves
his developing relationship with his younger brother, who happens to also be healthy, georgeous,
and blessed with a similarly active (but not quite so confused) libido. All sarcasm aside, sex
is part of life so it'll happen in this story.
Now, enjoy the story...
email me at PrettyDean82@yahoo.com
OR Join the discussion
The lobby was oddly quiet in the middle of the day. A bellhop was standing just outside the elevator, two well-coiffed
girls were at the desk, and two men in suits...tasteful renditions on the bouncer type...stood on either side of the big doors.
The bellhop took a quick side-step as I barrelled out of the elevator...following uncertainly in my wake. The women at the
desk stared in shock, and the tastefully appointed bouncers took a step towards me before pausing in confusion at the fact that,
coming from the elevators, I was apparently a guest at the hotel.
I power-walked between them, my shoulder spinning one of them completely around. I heard the thump of his ass hitting
the floor but didn't look back. Doors opened automatically...so slow...and I was on the sidewalk just as the ambulance pulled up.
"HERE! MOVE IT!" I bellowed. I think the AI used a softer version of Elena's amplification trick. It worked. The paramedic
was jolted into action and sprinted around the vehicle to open the doors. I didn't give him a chance to pull out the stretcher. Just
climbed right in and put Julian on it. The paramedic hopped up nimbly behind me.
"The dispatcher said it was a poisoning?"
"Yeah." I realized I had the wine bottle in my hands. What? I put it down...
::I made a judgment.:: The AI informed me. Oh. Good then.
"Here's what's left. I found him on the bed, delirious." I told him.
"Hang on to that for a second while I check him." He busily started checking vitals as he continued to talk to me. Calm,
soothing. He knew how to handle this. I found myself relaxing a bit.
"Eyes dilated, he's drooling a bit. Looks like he's entering a semi-catatonic state. Hey John, let's move it!"
The sirens went on and the ambulance was moving into traffic.
"How long to the hospital?"
"Maybe fifteen minutes."
::That should be in time, if they figure out what is needed quickly.::
:Well, maybe we can just tell them.:
::You'd be expected to explain how you knew, though. Too many questions.::
:I don't give a fuck about questions. I'm not taking risks here.:
::Ok, don't worry. I'll take care of it.::
A small grate in the front of the cab was pulled open and the driver's hand came through, a cellphone in it.
"Hey, you're Jeremey, right?"
"Uh, dunno how the hell, but this guy says he needs to talk to you."
I took the phone, puzzled. A strange voice spoke in my ear.
"Is this Jeremey?"
"Yes. Who is this?"
"I've been instructed to inform you that your brother has consumed a toxic substance known as Perfidium. He
will die within 6 hours if he does not receive the antidote."
"WHAT? Who the fuck is this and what do you want?" My voice shook.
"You will meet me in twenty minutes in the third level of the west parking deck, at the hospital you are en-route
to. You will transfer one million dollars in return for the antidote."
"You did this for fucking MONEY? I don't have any money, it's all tied up in trust funds!"
"Perhaps. But I have the antidote. It is very rare. And it has to be administered within thirty minutes of the
poisoning. I suggest you play along and find a way to get the million dollars. Otherwise your brother is going to
"You bastard." I whispered.
"Twenty minutes. Starting now. I suggest you keep an eye on your watch."
There was a click and the phone went dead. I stared at it in confusion and horror. The paramedic was looking at
me in concern.
"You allright man? What was that all about?"
"Ransom." The word dropped from my mouth like a stone.
"Shit." His face had to be paler than my own.
::Now you can tell him what the poison was. They have the antidote stored in a special archive in the basement.
It'll take a call to the hospital's toxin's expert, who ordered the antidote for a case last year and entered the
remainder into special storage. He should remember it and mention the antidote, and from there everything's perfect.::
:You made that call?:
::Of course I did. You needed a story to go with the exotic poisoning case the police will be interested in. I
made sure the call was routed through one of the new digital servers, they'll be able to retrieve a recording for the
police to use. They'll be curious about the money. I've taken the liberty of creating the trust accounts you mentioned.
With several millions of dollars and a well-documented history behind them.::
I sat down weakly on the bench-like structure in the wall of the ambulance. I felt vaguely outmaneuvered. That AI
was damn clever. Almost too clever. But at the same time, I wouldn't have thought of that. And it was most needed.
::So now we sit and wait for the real ransom call. It will be more private, I think.::
:Or maybe there won't be one. Maybe they want to take this opportunity to grab Julian again.:
::Makes no sense. You'll be on your guard after the poisoning.::
I stared down at my knees. It suddenly occurred to me that I was basically naked, wearing only the towel from the
shower. As was Julian. I shivered involuntarily.
"Here." The paramedic handed me a blanket. "We'll find you some scrubs to wear when we arrive at the hospital."
"Thanks." I wrapped the blanket around my shoulders.
"I'll be fine. I'm worried about him." I gestured lamely at Julian's prone form.
"Most poisons have an antidote. We'll find it."
"He said what it was. On the phone. Something called Perfidium. He said the antidote's really rare."
"Ok. Give me that."
The paramedic took the phone from my hand and punched in a number.
"Jane? Yeah this is Derek in number 401. I have a somewhat unusual poisoning situation here, apparently it's
a rare toxin called Perfidium. Per-fid-I-um. Yeah. You might want to call in Dr. Evanston on this. Oh, and after
that call the cops and tell them there's been a ransom call about the antidote for it. Got that? Okay. We're ETA
about five minutes now. Okay. Yeah. Thanks Janie."
He shut the phone.
"Dr. Evanston is THE authority on toxins and venoms for the East Coast. He'll know what the antidote is. It'll
I stared at Julian. His skin had gone a pasty white and his bare chest was beaded with sweat. Goosebumps all
over. He didn't look good.
"He said the antidote has to be within 30 minutes. And it's rare." I said sombrely.
"Shit." He hit redial. "Jane? Derek again. That poisoning just hit the top emergency spot. The antidote has to be
administered within (he consulted his watch) eighteen minutes from now or the patient is a goner. Light a fire under
some asses for me. Okay. Thanks Janie."
When we got to the hospital there was a uniformed policeman waiting for us. I followed the fast-moving stretcher,
he tried to match my pace.
"Excuse me. Are you Mr. Jeremey Ballister?"
"Uh, yeah. That's me."
"Could you come with me please?"
I looked sideways at him like he was insane.
"Not a chance in hell. You wanna talk, you'll have to tag along."
The cop reached out with a proprietary hand on my arm. Tried to tug me to a stop. I wasn't having it.
"Sir, I really need you to come with me."
I turned my head to give him the best stony stare I could manage in a towel and blanket.
"Look. My brother is possibly about to die. You'd have to drag me. And I won't just go limp, either."
I grasped his wrist, a bit more firmly than necessary, and removed it from my elbow. Never missing a step
during the exchange. I was keeping pace right next to Julian's head as I politely told a New York City cop to
kindly fuck off.
"Mr. Ballard. I recognize things are tense. And there's a ransom demand. We need you to cooperate so we
can help you."
"I never asked for your help. If the hospital has no antidote, I will pay the ransom. Without interference
from the police. At this moment I don't give a fuck about justice or the law. I just don't want my brother to die.
So please kindly stay out of it unless I ask for help."
We were at the elevator. Two orderlies and a nurse had clustered around Julian now, and tried to push me out
of the elevator.
"You'll need to take a separate car. There's no room with the stretcher."
"Make room." I said forcefully. I pointed at one of the orderlies.
"You. You're not needed. If he needs to be moved I can move him. You take another car."
The nurse had a ready answer.
"Sir, you aren't trained to move an unconscious person. If you really want to help your brother you'll let us
do our job."
"My brother," I pointed at Julian, "is here because someone is trying to get to me through him. I'm not taking
chances. No separate cars. Consider us siamese twins."
They balked. I gave one of the orderlys a powerful shove out of the elevator and pressed the Close Door button.
"Level 4." The nurse said. I pressed it. Moments later we were there.
A flustered, gray-headed doctor came towards us.
"I'm Dr. Denning, resident toxicologist. You said the phone call identified the toxin as Perfidium, yes?"
"Yes he did."
"I've been talking to Dr. Evanston about this. We had a case of Perfidium poisoning a couple years ago. Very
diluted dose caught several people at a party. Three of them died. But we still have antidote in storage. I've got
someone bringing it up as we speak."
Moments later, with a ding, the elevator opened and a young orderly pushed a rolling safe out into the corridor.
"It's locked doctor. But this is the right cabinet number. You said it was absolute rush so I just wheeled the
thing up. You got the combination?"
"Hang on." The doctor pulled out a phone and speed-dialed. "Dr. Evanston? Denning here. The antidote is locked
up in a safe-cabinet. Do you have the combination? Yes I'll wait."
He tapped his foot impatiently for a minute.
"Yes. Still here. Yes?" He motioned for the orderly to punch in the numbers. "2-6-9-3-6-6-2"
There was a beep and the orderly opened the safe. He looked inside and lifted out a small box and opened it.
"What the hell?" He exclaimed. Inside the cardboard box was a steel tube with another combination pad on it.
"Uh, there's another lock."
"Okay. We've got it out. What's the next combination? What do you mean? It's in a steel protective tube, with
a keypad, like for dangerous biologicals, yes. One of those. I see. Well." He looked at me. "It seems someone's taken
additional precautions. The antidote is in itself very dangerous."
"Let me see it." I grabbed the tube from the orderly. As I did I felt myself jerked into the Symbiotic Web, just
like my first encounter with the manual. One moment I was reaching for the tube, the next...
"Thank you for joining me." It was the Godfather. As in, the old man from the movie. I stared.
"I'm sure you've guessed that this is a recording. I didn't want to appear in person, so I picked an appropriate
bit of culture to help communicate the seriousness of your situation."
"You're...the Godfather." The recording continued.
"By now I'm sure your AI has determined the nature of the poison now coursing through your brother's bloodstream.
As well as the necessary antidote. The fact that you are watching this recording indicates you've found the antidote, in
it's protective container. This container was developed by the United States military to secure extremely dangerous
biological warfare samples. Any attempt to tamper with the casing will cause the specimen inside to be incinerated. You
need the code to get to the antidote, and save your brother's life. I have the code."
"You bastard-" the recording rolled on right over me.
"If you want the code, you will have to act quickly. In fact, you'll need to start running as soon as this
recording is finished. There is a door to the stairwell next to the elevator. Take it down two flights. Take a left and
follow that corridor until it ends. There will be an emergency exit there. The alarm is disabled. I have someone in a
car just outside that door. You'll get in and they will drive you to my location where we will negotiate for the code.
You'll have to give the code to the good doctor over the phone, I'm afraid. Time is of essence with this toxin. I would
suggest you not stop to explain."
With that, I was staggering backwards, thrusting the tube back into the orderly's hands. I spun around towards the
"I'll call with the code!"
:Get the doctor's number.:
::Already have it. You are taking a huge risk.::
:Yeah. Have to though.:
Less than a minute later I burst through the emergency exit into a darkened parking garage. A lone sedan sat in
waiting. I got in the back seat. There was a partition up between me and the driver. The door locked and the car was
moving, squealing its tires.
:Can you track us?:
::I can. This vehicle is not shielded.::
:So it's probably a random then?:
::Yes. An autonoid.::
:Where are we at on that detection equipment?:
::Nearly completed. But I still need about six hours of down time to finish.::
:See if you can knock some off that time while we're stuck in here.:
::First, I think this is an opportunity to get to know our enemy a bit better.::
There was a tick as the burst of radiation was released, and I was looking at the reflection that came back
through the thin barrier in front of me. Two adult males. Both with the little devices in the bases of their skulls.
::Put your face right behind one of them, as close as you can get. I want to get angle shots.::
I hunched forward and touched my nose to the barrier, just behind where I knew the driver's head was.
[Tick] There he was again. A bit better detail this time.
I moved my face to the right about a foot.
Slowly leaned from the right back over to the far left.
:Okay. That good?:
::Excellent. Have a look.::
I leaned back and dropped into the Symbiotic Web fully.
There was my little brother of 13 years, apple-cheeked
and looking very pleased with himself. I saw why. In front of me a gigantic three-dimensional diagram of the implant
was being drawn in fine detail.
"I'm pretty sure I know how it works now."
"I thought we already had that figured."
"No, no. I mean I know exactly how it's done. There's a specially-built nanite, something like the ones that are
mixed with your sperm. Only these ones build a kernel at the tip of the spinal cord, which extends filaments up into
the brain and down into the vertabrae. Then communication and control nodes, it's really a sophisticated device. Anyways,
apparently whoever is doing this somehow gets the nanites into the victim as a poison and just waits for the device to
be built. Looks like it's in two stages. Judging by the number of nanites in this guy, and the complexity of the device,
I'd say it probably takes a month to reach basic operational stage, and two or three years to be fully working."
"What the hell is the difference?"
"Basic operational - he can spy, make someone's body move. Probably not very well. Like a zombie from a movie,
maybe. And it could cause brain damage if he wiped out their memory. At full operational stage, I'd guess he'd have
full control. Full movement of the body, talking - depending on how much attention he gives controlling them their
behavior would appear completely independent."
"Great. So those two who snatched Julian before were past the basic stage but not quite all the way there."
"Yes. I'd say that incident is proof the degree of control is progressive over time."
"So, how does this help us? Aside from knowing in advance about the army of zombies..."
"Well, I think I may be able to subvert the basic-level autonoids."
"The encryption and anti-tampering circuits appear to be late-stage constructions. So, theoretically a counter-nanite
could be developed."
"Yes. It would take some work. And I've already dedicated as many resources as possible to building the detection
"Right. Okay. How much time do we have left?"
I pulled myself out of that state and pounded on the partition.
"Hey! We're out of time! I came to the car, give me the fucking code!"
I accessed the communications implant and sent out a tentative signal at each of the men in turn. Broadcasting
:If I don't get a reply, like NOW, I'm going through this window!:
::Please, have some patience.::
The voice was that of the godfather character, again.
:About fucking time. Which I don't have a lot of. The code.:
::There are still approximately four minutes left.::
:Too close for my peace of mind. Humor me.:
::The young. So impatient. Very well. Seven-six-six-three-nine-four-six-eight-zero-one-eight-three.
The AI was already dialing.
"Doctor Denning. This is Jeremey, uh, Ballard. I've got the code."
"For the antidote?"
"Yeah. Price of my cooperation. Can't talk about it. You ready?"
"I'm not sure about this."
"Just put the fucking code in. If it's not right there's going to be bodies."
"Seven...six...six...three...nine...four...six...eight...zero...one...eight...three. Okay. I think that was
right. Yes, it opened just fine."
"And the antidote's inside?"
"Well, administer it, already!"
"Of course. Just a moment - nurse, please administer this. Inside the thigh. Yes. Good. Okay it's done."
"You let me know the first sign of any change, okay? Anything at all happens I want to know. You've got my
"I'll keep it."
The connection ended.
:No. I'm pissed off that some asshole decided to poison my brother. So, asshole, what is this little bit of
friendly charity going to cost me?:
::Well, you were very recently added to the immortal community, were you not?::
:Yeah, I'm a baby. What of it?:
::Do you know the process by which you were changed?::
:Um, well I guess they put Esseren into me, right?:
::Yes. But how?::
:Injection? Blood transfusion?:
::Well, yes. That's correct. But it's a bit more complicated than that. Are you aware of the geographical
limitations on your Esseren?::
:Geographical? Oh, you mean they can't do things outside my body. Except, if I have sex they give the girl a
::A tune-up. What a refreshingly industrial phrase. Yes, you're essentially correct. And that means that a
mere blood transfusion isn't sufficient to make a new immortal, doesn't it?::
:I suppose not. The AI said the programming is pretty harsh on stuff it has to do and stuff it can't do.:
::Very harsh. Immortals have been attempting to override those restrictions for millenia. I'm sure many tried
even in the days of Atlantis, if you believe the Guardian's histories. But no one has ever succeeded. The programming
is completely invulnerable.::
:Oh. So that sucks, I guess. But then how did I get made?:
::A good question indeed. I'll answer it with a lesson. There are two basic ways an immortal can be made. By
appointment, or by attachment. Appointed immortals can only be made with the help of one of the Elders, or so the legend
states. Nobody has ever met an Elder, though. At least, they've never talked about it if they did. They've been living
in hiding ever since the Aeternis Society made their big push a few decades ago. That was under guise of the mortal's
second World War, by the way. The Aeternis Society wanted to mass produce immortals, with the eventual aim of openly
controlling world government. Nonsense of course. But they very nearly succeeded. The Elder they had captured and bent
to their will either escaped, committed suicide, or was assassinated. No one really knows. But they haven't been heard
from since. You are the first new immortal in fifty years.::
:Oh. So I guess you and everybody else would be interested in me, then.:
::Very interested. For different purposes, of course. I suggest there are those who would like to track down the
Elder who helped make you. I doubt they'd succeed, however.::
So Elena was an Elder. Whatever that meant, exactly.
:So what do you want me for?:
::Well, as I was saying, there are two ways an immortal is made. An immortal made by attachment is created by an
:But I thought you said it was impossible.:
::There is one thing you must learn, if you will flourish in this world you've just been born to. Where the Esseren
are concerned, there are many rules. But every rule has exceptions.::
:Okay. So...an exception.:
::An appointed immortal is reborn as a Guardian. They are the only ones with access to the Elders. And in the old
times each prospective Guardian would be attached to a companion as they went through the training to prepare them
to receive the Esseren. These companions had to be divorced from the brotherhood, kept away from all politics and power
of any kind. They were to be simple citizens in the real world. Their function was two-fold. They kept a new Guardian
connected to the real world - gave them something tangible to represent the values, the way of life, the very people that
they were to defend. A sort of moral compass. And also, they enabled the populace to remain intimately connected to the
brotherhood. In each neighborhood, in every group, there was one of their own closely attached to one of the elite.::
:So, the Elders would make the companion immortal too?:
::No, no. The immortal did. The programming allows one chance at this, and one only. As a new immortal you have the
power to choose the next human to become one of us. And once you choose, your Esseren will make that exception to those
rules just that one time, and with a physical transfer, they will infuse their body, making them a new immortal. An
:Oh. Wow. So...every immortal gets a lifetime companion then?:
::That is the idea. It takes careful choosing, though. Very careful. Each immortal can only do it once.::
I stopped, absorbing the information. Then it hit me. What he wanted.
:That's what you want from me. You want me to make someone an immortal. To give you a second chance.:
::Very intelligent of you.::
:But then I wouldn't be able to have a...companion at all!:
::Well, no, you wouldn't. But you wouldn't have to be alone either.::
:What?: I sneered. :Use my pheremones to just have whoever I want? Until they get old and die? Then pick a
new one? Over and over again? Fuck that!:
::Don't be dramatic. Of course they wouldn't get old and die. Surely you've gone through the manual. You have
the power to extend life.::
:Oh yeah. By constant fucking.:
::I've done this for the past two centuries. When I met her she was fourteen. Two hundred years later she appears
to be barely into her twenties. It is agreeable. Still, I will admit it is not the best way. That is why I have sought
:Sorry. No deal.:
::You would throw away the life of your brother, in order to have an immortal marriage you did not know existed,
to a woman you have not yet met? I had thought you a man of principle. The Guardians generally choose such.::
:If I did not find a woman to give it to, I would at least give it to my brother. Not to some trollop who you
think loves you just because she's sleeping with you to stay young.:
::Don't try to anger me, pup. I've lived a lot longer than you have.::
:No doubt. And grown hard and bitter and ruthless too. Anyways, Julian is saved. Unless there's something you
didn't mention about that antidote.:
::No. It was genuine. You mistake my method of coercion. I no longer need the key to the antidote to hold sway
over you. I now have your brother, himself.::
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