Mankind regarded my ilk as beacons of wisdom and power— a perception I found utterly tiresome. Speaking trifles in passing and having them regarded as profundities always reminded me just how isolated I’d become.
The girl’s eyes welled up with brine and she dashed off. I purposely upset her and felt not a shred of regret for doing so. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand sadness. In fact, that emotion was the one I’d been most acquainted with. Rather, just as the suffering of a fly does not concern the horse, the girl’s corporeality made her fleeting feelings of no consequence to me.
“Just can’t help yourself, can you?”
A young woman sharing several of the tearful girl’s features approached me. I recognized her as ‘Fleurette’ but I could not recall as to whether she was the previous girl’s sibling or acquaintance. Despite being chastised for it, I purposely ignored this type of information. While the storage capacity of the human brain was indeed infinite, I had an issue with thought manageability. For this reason, the newer something was, the less care I had for it. But with life droning on as endlessly as it was, I began to develop nostalgia for nostalgia— caring for nothing at all.
“You always treat them with such cruel indifference, and yet the family graciously continues to tolerate and support you,” Fleurette scolded me. “Etienne doesn’t mind your appearance much, and she worships your harsh words as if they were spoken by a god. A gentleman would show gratitude, not fangs. You can’t handle a girl blushing, but tears are certainly right up your street.”
“Tell me this- if a man cannot freeze, what need does he have of shelter? If he does not sleep, why would he require a bed? If he cannot eat, why must meals be prepared for him? And if he cannot relate… what need does he have for a companion?”
“You are an insufferable egotist, Jean-Luc,” said Fleurette, her disapproving eyes attempting to stir regret in my heart. “I curse the day you were sent to live with the masters.”
“I doubt the others behave like soulless animatronics,” she continued, growing increasingly flustered. “The Pasiphae’s deserve a better Im than the scoundrel they’re stuck with.”
I pressed the button next to my temple that drew the tinted black glass away from my bloodshot eyeballs. I locked eyes with her, projecting the pain behind my aggregate acrimony. Unable to look away from the horrors reflected in my pupils, her dirty skin turned pallid. Her eyes dejected. With a quick click, the shades snapped back into place.
“Ah Jean-Luc, going for another stroll, I see,” the surly nobleman greeted. Due to a grease fire that broke out in one of his factories, half of Yves’s face had been grafted with metal plating. Instead of a right eye, he had an oxygen orb in its socket. Such devices worked the same as the
Earth’s enormous purifying moons but on a smaller scale. It was a symbol of Yves’s aristocracy, as oxygen tanks were seen as gauche and a sign of low social standing. Personally, I preferred the look of the tanks, but as one who required neither, my opinion hardly mattered.
Despite my lack of saying, the man immediately understood the situation.
“Will you be sending for anything?” the man asked somberly.
“Only my books,” I answered. “They are to be sent to my library. All my other belongings should be burned. Judging by her opinion of me, I’m sure ‘Fleurette’ would be more than happy to volunteer for the task.”
“Fleurette… ” he echoed.
Once the gate was resealed with Yves on the other side, I hung back for a listen.
“Good day, my lordship,” bid the voice of Fleurette. “Apologies Lord Pasiphae, but I am much too busy to converse with you. I came to check the insulation on backside of the manor. Lady Etienne is complaining of headaches again.”
“You’re a bloody headache,” Yves replied.
“Do not insult me with your knavery,” burst the nobleman as the back of his gold glove collided with the servant’s cheek. “I passed Jean-Luc on his way out.”
“You don’t know the terrible things he said to the young mistress,” Fleurette protested.
“Do not speak out of turn,” Yves ordered, his tone dry with discontent. “I do not care if he called her a harlot and had his way with her. The Governess entrusted his care to ME. Breaking that trust, she will shatter my spine and then throw me into the wastelands.”
The enormous wall obscured my view, but judging by the shrieks, shatters and grunts, the violence was simple to infer.
“He’ll crawl back, just watch,” Fleurette assured. “No one can survive the extremes of the lowlands or withstand the boiling waters of the Searing Ocean for long.”
“Do you know that little of the world?” Yves asked. “Of course he can. Why do you think we needed him? His presence was our protection. The unmans… At the rate our militia is dwindling, I should be surprised if this settlement shall remain afloat by next solstice.”
“My sisters in El Soledad say an ‘un’ is just a sad fraction of a human,” the bruised girl said weakly. “We don’t need an Im’s help.”
“The ignorant truly do have better quality of life,” muttered Yves. “Unlike El Soledad, Lyonnais refuses to become the pawn of a monarchy. We cannot depend on the security of chevaliers to stave off those mindless monsters.”
I could make out the sound of something smashing into a sculpture, presumably Fleurette’s body. Amid the violence, however, Yves maintained a chillingly calm demeanor. I’d observed this behavior several times during my stay. The industrial tycoon always dealt with anger oppositely from how one expected. The greater his fury was, the more reserved and focused he was.
“Aren’t there… others?” the maid posed between sobs. At this point Fleurette had to have taken considerable damage.
“Ims are scarce; fewer than a hundred or so are on the planet,” the head of house explained as he continued his merciless assault. “In that number, only a few offer themselves up as mercenaries. And in that handful, there is only one in Lyonnais’s price range. Jean-Luc L’Estrange.”
“I’m- I’m sorry,” the maid bawled. “I’m pleading with you… Stop.”
Her begging did not appear to have any effect as it sounded like Yves had tossed her yet again. At this point I decided I’d heard enough, and so I began walking away from the estate.
“I’m on the edge of the island, don’t come any closer!”
“You- you k-killed her,” stuttered the nobleman’s daughter. “My best f-friend…”
“I saved her from a worse fate.”
“Then shall you kill me as well?”
‘Why am I doing this?’