Chapter 24: “The Lumiere Project”.
“No, that can’t be right”, I protested, “My mother couldn’t have been demi-human. I would have remembered something like that.”
“You also thought your father was just a regular biotechnologist, but it turns out he was a demi-human specialist.”, April spoke, “Aniyah Blake, your mother, was good at keeping secrets. I would know. We were close friends before G.A.T even existed.”
I haven’t heard my mother’s first name in quite a long time, even when I decided to choose it as my own middle name.
However, April is right. It’s still insane just how much I didn’t know about my own father, especially considering how close we are. If this is all true, then everything starts to make sense once you look at the bigger picture. Why T.U.R.F is so interested in my father, why my mother disappeared out of my life, why I’m now considered a demi-human. And that also means I actually saw my mother back in the Lumiere void. All the pieces of the puzzles are starting to align themselves.
“You knew my mother?” I questioned April.
“She was a strong person who had classified information on demi-human origins. I knew she was seeing someone, but I didn’t know who until now. She had left our demi-human operation a long time ago and we barely kept in contact.”
This whole mystery just keeps getting deeper and deeper.
“Even so, what does any of this have to do with me or my father?”, I asked her.
“Athena is hunting you down because she is after Lumiere, something that involves both Aniyah and Eric Blake”, Chante spoke.
“Okay, before any of you go on any further”, Micah chimed in impatiently, “What exactly is Lumiere anyway?”
“Avery, were you able to decipher that hard drive I sent?”, Chante asked Avery through the monitor.
“I’m afraid not. Most of the information was corrupted”, the picture of my mother minimized on the screen and the error messaged ‘CORRUPTED’ was displayed to show the status of the hard drives Chante and Avery were talking about. Chante let out a sigh.
“Then allow me to share what I now know”, Chante began, “Lumiere is Emilia’s demi-human power, it’s a massive pool of energy, almost like a power source or battery. Considering that Emilia’s father took note of this, I’m sure he’s aware that Emilia is a demi-human.”
“A power source, huh?”, Micah looked deep in thought, “So it’s safe to assume that Athena wants Emilia’s Lumiere power as a way to increase her own demi-human power? But Is that even possible?”, Micah asked.
“Hold on a sec”, Nash intervened, “All of us here know that Athena is a monster of a demi-human already. If she were to obtain even more power on top of what she has…”, Nash started to chuckle to themself. It seemed very mischievous like they were enjoying the thought, “Damn, I would love to see that.”
I noticed Micah rolled her eyes, “Ignore them, Emilia. Nash can be a bit crazy at times.”
“Hey, I just like knowing that when I go out to kill terfs, they actually put up a decent fight”, Nash tried to defend themselves.
“As I said”, Micah continued, “Crazy.”
Nash didn’t seem bothered by her remarks though, as they just shrugged.
“But, Chante, how do you even know about Lumiere?”, Micah asked her.
“Because I spoke with Aniyah within it.”
The room went quiet.
Flashback: Chante and Aniyah Blake.
“It’s good to see you again.”, Aniyah welcomed, “I’ve missed you too, Chante.”
Chante stood still for some moments.
“Is it really you?”, Chante asked being unfamiliar with the realm she was in. For all she knew, this could be an illusion pulling on her heartstrings.
“The one and only”, Aniyah smiled.
Chante ran to hug her and tears started to flow from her eyes. Surprisingly, Chante felt the warmth of a human being hugging Aniyah, erasing any doubt that what was before her was a mere illusion, “I never thought I’ll see you again.”
“You sound like Emilia”, she said returning Chante’s warm embrace.
Caught by surprise, Chante looked at her, “You know Emilia?”
“What kind of mother would I be if I didn’t know my own daughter?”
Chante ceased the hug, the expression of surprise still lingering on her face and wiping her tears, “Emilia…is your daughter?”. Chante didn’t notice it before, but once you looked at her, Emilia did resemble her mother in facial appearances.
“That’s right, but there’s something else you need to know”, Aniyah’s voice took a serious tone, “Chante, Emilia is in danger.”
“I know”, Chante regained her composure, “T.U.R.F is after her”.”
“Not just that”, Aniyah shook her head, “Surely you’ve seen Eric’s work?”
“The Lumiere Project”, Chante replied with concern.
Aniyah nodded, “Do you remember my demi-human power?”
“You can absorb large outputs of energy and redirect it throughout your whole body, making it your own for a limited period of time. It’s how you were able to fight alongside April.”
“Exactly. I never did stop fighting as a demi-human even though I was pregnant with Emilia at the time. Because of that, her small body absorbed the light energy channelling through my body and it bonded to her very life force. At birth, Emilia was practically a star of concentrated light energy. That’s why Eric nicknamed her power ‘Lumiere’…but then something else happened: I lost my demi-human power.”
“What?!”, Chante exclaimed, “That can’t be possible! I’ve never heard of a demi-human losing their power before. Even if our light energy is depleted, it eventually replenishes itself overtime.”
“It’s very much unheard of, yes, but even with how much progress has been made in demi-human research, there’s still a lot we don’t know. Getting back to the topic at hand though, it was safe to assume that whatever power I did had, was channelled into Emilia as Lumiere. Thus, I became human.”
Chante was quiet for a bit before speaking up, “This doesn’t have a happy ending, does it?”
Aniyah giggled, “Unfortunately, no. It would seem that once your body is accustomed to absorbing light energy, it can’t survive without. So with Emilia’s Lumiere power taking my own source of light energy with it, I slowly started to die.”
The atmosphere, as dark as it already was, now became heavy with tension.
“Eric and I were aware of this, of course. With Lumiere tied to Emilia’s very life force, trying to remove it from her would no doubt result in her death. But being a specialist in demi-humans, and the reason why we were able to be a part of each other’s lives, Eric wanted to find a way to save us both.”
“So he created the Lumiere Project”, Chante added.
“Yes. It was his research project with the objective of saving Emilia and I. Eric hesitated at first but we also agreed that it would be best to tell Emilia that I left our family in the event I do pass away before he was able to succeed with it. With the uncertainty of my condition, we didn’t want to put the death of her mother on Emilia’s shoulders. No parent would. However, I would eventually succumb to my body being without a light energy source before Eric could make a breakthrough. Not only did I die, but I was also absorbed into Lumiere.”
Chante took some time to think about what she said, “This is Lumiere. We’re inside Emilia’s power”, she looked around the void. For something that was called ‘Lumiere’, it was pretty dark here.
“That’s right”, Aniyah confirmed.
“And Emilia doesn’t know”, Chante also added.
“Also correct. To Emilia, all she knows is that I disappeared one day without saying goodbye.”
“Okay, I get it now”, Chante nodded her head in understanding, “But why is Eric still working on the Lumiere Project if you’re trapped here?… Unless…”
“Remember what I said about Lumiere being a star of light energy? Eric theorized that once Emilia came of age and was able to use Lumiere’s power, she could eventually divide my being from Lumiere, almost like resurrecting my body. The Lumiere Project would act as a guide or a key to help Emilia decipher her abilities. The problem is that even faced with the morality of telling Emilia the truth, there’s no guarantee that Emilia can control Lumiere to that level. But most importantly: It’s all a theory. Just like Athena, Emilia’s demi-human power is one big mystery.”
“My God”, Chante exclaimed. There was a lot to take in, “What could Athena want with Lumier….no, she wouldn’t…what am I saying, of course, she would.” Chante muttered to herself.
“Lumiere is a massive concentrated ball of light energy inside Emilia. It’s a power capable of bending the very laws of the universe. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say it would be possible to obtain the power of a god, or in Emilia and Athena’s case, goddesses. Both of their bodies are like massive storage containers for light energy.”
“Fucking hell”, Chante swore.
“Chante, you have no idea what Athena is capable of, especially if she’s able to harness Lumiere in addition to her own power.”
“Trust me, I’ve been at her side long enough to know just how blood-soaked both our hands are. I intend to put that bitch in the ground before anything else happens.”
“You’ve faced her and lost, horrifically might I add.”
“Then for her sake, the bitch better hope she’s lucky the second time around”, Chante gripped her fist in aggressive determination.
“I’ve missed that about you, Chante, your will to get things done. If you’re so determined, then at least promise me you’ll protect Emilia.”
“Of course I will. I owe you everything”, Chante didn’t hesitate in her answer.
“Thank you”, Aniyah smiled brightly.
The room was silent as everyone, including me who just processed everything Chante just told us.
“I’m sorry you had to find out this way, Emilia”, Chante said in remorse.
I dropped to my knees in terror. All of this, the reason my mother is dead and the reason my father is being held hostage by a psychopath, is all my fault. At that moment, I broke down and cried.
“Well, we’re fucked”, Nash said impolitely.
“Do you have to be an inconsiderate asshole right now?! Emilia just realized she lost her mother!”, Micah shouted at them. Naomi stood close to Micah despite her outburst.
“I’m sorry, did you miss the part where Athena, the fucking modern-day Hitler wants to obtain the power of a god? That bitch’s power already has no upper limit. And that’s for a demi-human power we barely know anything about.”
“Enough!”, Chante shouted. She walked towards me and kneeled beside me. “Hey, this isn’t your fault.” Chante wiped my tears away with her hand.
This feeling in my stomach. I felt so sick like I was about to throw up. Everything that happened up to this point was because of my very existence into my parents’ lives. I was practically balling my eyes out with tears.
Micah, along with the quiet Naomi, and April started to walk towards me.
“None of your parents blame you for anything that has happened, and you shouldn’t either,” April spoke gently.
I slowly stopped crying, sniffling a bit here and there. I tried to make sense of what everyone was telling me. I know they’re right, but this overwhelming guilt in my stomach is telling me a different story altogether.
“If you really do feel like you need to take responsibility for it though”, Chante spoke, “Just remember you still have a way to save them both. This isn’t over yet. Not by a long shot.”
She’s right. This isn’t over just yet. There’s still hope that I can change all of this.
I ceased my crying and got up on my feet from the ground, and Chante did as well. Everyone around me started to smile.
“Now that’s more like it,” April said with a smile. I returned her smile, a smile of vigour.
“I’m going to save my parents, no matter what it takes”, I told everyone. It sounded cliche, but I meant it with all of my heart.
“Um, this is all heartwarming and all”, Nash interrupted yet another sensitive moment, “But you may want to tell the kid just how powerful T.U.R.F is. I don’t mean to burst your bubble, kid, but they butcher even the most competent demi-humans. You don’t by any chance know how to utilize Lumiere besides hoping on the power of friendship, do you?”
Nash really is an asshole, but they’re right. Right now I don’t know how to use Lumiere. How it stands right now, I’ll just get my ass kicked.
Suddenly, a loud boom erupts and causes the G.A.T base to shake.
“What was that?”, April asked grabbing the hilt of her katana. Everyone looked on edge. Was this some sort of attack on the base?
The window on the screen that was broadcasting Avery minimize and maximize another window that displayed camera footage.
“April, you need to see this!”, Avery exclaimed. The camera footage was of two people, a boy carrying a girl over his shoulder. I could see blood and bruises all over them.
“Oh, no. That’s Liriah and Skye!”, Micah shouted.
“Everyone, move! Get them in here now!”, April commanded, “Jesus Christ. What did they do you two?”
To Be Continued…