In order to better understand Gideon, I have taken excerpts from his journal, which he kept while working at the Bridgewater Institute. I have, of course, made notations where Gideon's original comments were either incomplete or, shall we say, rather self-flattering. Gideon's journal entries appear in italics, while my annotations are in regular text.
Personal Diary of Dr. Gideon Croft, March 17, 1996
I have achieved a great victory today over those who called me "boy wonder" and "whiz kid". At the tender age of 24, I have earned not only my doctorate in genetics, but have won a position at the prestigious Bridgewater Institute for Advanced Immunological Studies. Many brilliant scientists were up for that job…and who could blame them? Nearly unlimited research funds, combined with total project control, from conception to completion, are tempting prizes for any research scientist. Some of those up for the position included my old teachers, as well as numerous detractors who claimed I was a "flash in the pan" or "upstart". For me, this job has a delightful bonus, for I have snatched from out of the hands of those who have spent so much time insulting my talents.
Gideon Croft - brilliant research scientist, avant garde geneticist, exceptional, driven, genius - these are all phrases he would use to describe himself. Not unjustly, mind. Evidence of Gideon's superior intellect developed early; he excelled in grammar school, advancing in grades at an astounding rate, graduating high school at the age of 14. He achieved his Bachelors Degree in Applied Sciences at the age of 16, going on to gain his Masters by his 19th birthday.
Gideon won his Doctorate in Genetics in 1995, at the tender age of 23. Much to the surprise, and chagrin, of those who considered him an annoying upstart, Gideon applied for, and was granted, the position as Director of Research at the Bridgewater Institute. This, of course, served to increase Gideon's own sense of self-importance, and fed an already raging inferno of an ego.
March 21, 1996
To my chagrin, I have discovered that my so-called "assistants" are little more than a pack of glorified veterinarians. I wouldn't trust one of them to identify a simple RNA string, much less carry out the work I demand of them. Even the simplest of tasks seems to stretch their capabilities to their utmost. I swear, if Dr. Lianas was forced to chew bubblegum while sequencing a Type 3 variance, her pretty little head would pop off her shoulders.
Youth, inexperience, and a truly impressive IQ combined to create a very egotistic and self-assured Dr. Gideon Croft. His staff - especially the other geneticists assigned to work beneath him - quickly grew to loath Gideon, both for his superior attitude and scathing tongue. It soon became apparent that Gideon Croft lacked even the most rudimentary of people skills.
July 7, 1996
Lord take pity on fools, drunkards, and company CEOs! Those fools who control the purse strings have forced yet another incompetent, drooling imbecile into my domain. A alleged doctor by the name of Reginald Wordsworth-Henry has joined my flock of fools. Doctor Reg (as I like to call him, for it angers the spoiled bastard) typifies the problems with British society today. The spoiled child of the aristocracy, he has obviously managed to graduate from Oxford only because his father possessed sufficient resources to build them a small international airport. The rich - there is apparently nothing they cannot buy, even an advanced degree in genetics.
Dr. Croft stared intently at a several sheets of paper spread before him on his desk, each covered in tiny, precise formulae and mathematical symbols. He looked up at Dr. Henry, and gestured towards a series of photos.
"Tell me, Dr. Reg," Gideon's smile grew wider at the inevitable look of annoyance which Dr. Henry always exhibited at this diminutive, "to what would you attribute the myelination of these nerve cells?" Gideon gestured towards the pictures which lay before him.
Dr. Henry bent lower, studying the photographs taken by the lab's electron microscope, and frowned. After a few minutes of study, he spoke. "Perhaps some sort of viral infection?"
"Is that what you think? How remarkable," Gideon pushed himself away from the desk, and turned to take a few steps. He stopped, seemingly intent on examining the white tile floor of the laboratory before continuing. "A viral infection…a very interesting conclusion."
Dr. Henry's face brightened slightly at this uncharacteristic praise.
"Of course, when I use the term 'interesting', I would be more accurate in using the term 'idiotic' or 'simple-minded'. Obviously, the dendrites and axon terminals have mutated to a complexity far beyond human norm." Gideon slammed his fist down on a workbench, causing several petri dishes to jump and rattle. He turned to stalk away, not noticing the look of pure malevolence which briefly crossed his assistant's face.
"A viral infection - any viral infection - would leave obvious traces. Damaged cell membranes, clumsily re-ordered mRNA sequences - hell, the list goes on. By these formula, such traces are obviously missing."
"Yet only a virus could account for this cell mutation," Dr. Henry protested weakly.
"Obviously, there is another agent, one similar to a virus, but infinitely more subtle, which is capable of producing a similar effect. Of course, once again, when I use the word obvious, I should say 'obvious to anyone of a reasonable intellect'."
Dr. Henry's face reddened, and he began to speak, only to be cut off by his superior.
"Go see Helen, Dr. Reg. I'm sure she can find work suitable to your talents." Dr. Henry turned, and walked towards the door. He stopped at the threshold as Gideon continued. "Perhaps pushing a broom."
November 17, 1996
This work is fascinating…far more so than I could have ever hoped, or dreamed, it would be. A few months ago, a man from the village brought me a bottle which appeared to contain a few pints of blood. He told me it came from (believe it or not) a vampire! Killed by the stake, he said, and its body left to burn in the morning sun. Hard to believe that, on the eve of the millennium, there still exist those foolish enough to believe these children's tales.
Still, the man was earnest, and it seemed to me to be easier to humour him, buy his "vampire blood" for a few pounds, and send him on his way. After he left, I came close - so close, I now shudder at the thought - to tossing the vial into the Bacteriological Wastes Unit. Instead, some impulse, lead me to keep the vial, and analyze the blood it contained. No doubt it was my genius, manifesting itself on a subconscious level, which led me to keep the sample.
I prepared a slide, and placed it under the microscope. How to describe my reaction? Well, for the first time in my life, I was truly humbled…humbled, and amazed. The blood sample behaved in ways I had never seen before. While the traditional aspects - T-cell count, red blood cells, etc. - were consistent with lifeless blood, the blood itself was undeniably alive. Well, alive for want of a better word. The sample was definitely active, and yet showed no traditional signs of life.
This obviously bears greater study. I have suspended all other projects, for the ramifications of this sample are too immense to be ignored.
Over the next few months, Dr. Croft began an intensive and all-encompassing study of the blood sample he had received. He dubbed this small amount of blood the Lazarus Sample, and came to believe it contained the secrets to the resuscitation of dead tissue; a cure, as it were, for death itself. He tried to contact the man from the village who had brought him the sample, but learned that the man had been killed, struck by a car the day after bringing him the sample.
Returning to his lab, Gideon threw himself into his studies with new zeal. He practically abandoned his apartment, and ordered a broom closet converted into a small bedroom. He stayed up late into the night, long after his staff had departed. Eventually, he took to sleeping a few hours during the day, and working at night. He preferred the privacy of the light night, when most of the "incompetents" had gone home. At night, he had only to deal with the small night crew - a janitor, and two other scientists. As he often remarked, sadly the night shift included Dr. Reg.
December 25, 1996
My studies continue, at times so slowly I could scream. If only I could unlock the secrets of the Lazarus Sample, I'm sure I would be well on my way to a cure for death itself! Somehow, someway, a hitherto unknown submicroscopic organism or substance has had a remarkable effect on this blood sample. At first, this effect seems destructive - the cells are technically dead. Yet further investigation produces a shocking yet undeniable truth - while "dead", the cells continue to function, and at an increased level of efficiency.
Any disease I have introduced into the Lazarus Sample has failed to take hold. Oft times, the disease remains active, but is unable to negatively affect the sample itself. Occasionally, the sample destroys the invading bodies - be they viral or bacteriological - with an almost frightening rapidity and efficacy.
One other surprising (although surely surprising is a wholly inadequate term) result. When I accidentally exposed a small amount of the Lazarus Sample to sunlight (while working one of my rare day shifts), the sample boiled away to nothingness in but a few short seconds. Further tests indicate that the sample has an unexplainable vulnerability to sunlight. Ultraviolet radiation, or any other component of sunlight I have exposed it to, does not have the same effect.
Sunlight has a very high concentration of nuclear reactive particles and rays. Due to the relative inactivity of the Lazarus cells, ultraviolet light and x-rays seem to have a detrimental effect on the tissue. Both of these types of radiation directly damage the DNA of cells. They break up the DNA strands in many cells, releasing large quantities of mutated genetic information and free radicals.
Free radical degeneration is a direct result of natural radiation exposure and is usually controlled by natural metabolic processes. Large quantities of radicals released by exposure to sunlight will overload this system. The free radicals will eventually attack chemical bonds in the living tissue. When free radicals attack a chemical system, the habitually create more as the reaction cascades. This becomes uncontrollable without expending energy to control the process. Tissue would be literally disintegrated by the body itself in a massive chain reaction.
Fire itself is also very destructive. In addition of destroying large amounts of tissue all throughout the body, it has the ability to damage or remove the receptors off the adjoining cells. This makes cellular regeneration very difficult as there is no basis for rebuilding the missing tissue. This healing must be initiated from far deeper tissue. However, it is possible to remove damaged tissue to stimulate normal growth. I begin at last to understand - and yet, not condone - the villager's simplistic "vampire" superstitions. Dr. Croft's studies continued unabated for the next few months. Over this period of time, he grew somewhat harried and absent-minded. His staff also noted that, for a man with an undeniably short temper, Dr. Croft was growing even more unpredictable. It soon came to pass that the only research assistant willing to come near him was Dr. Henry.
January 10, 1997
My studies have ground to an exasperating halt. No matter what I do, I cannot find this agent, this device, which has altered the biochemistry of this sample. It must be there, and yet it defies all my attempts to root it out. I have made a decision. I have taken a small sample of the blood, and placed it within a syringe. It is my plan to inject myself.
Before you call me mad, wait while I explain. This agent obviously is infectious, and yet has defied all attempts and detection. I believe that, by infecting myself, I will have a larger, fresher supply of blood to study, and will then be able to identify the agent. While I do have some concerns, I am sure I will be able to achieve my ends before any ill effects might retard my efforts.
January 16, 1997
A degree of success I could never have imagined! Such power as I have never felt, nor even suspected could exist! Upon injecting myself with a small amount of the Lazarus Sample, I felt rather nauseous and light headed - yet, only for a few brief moments. Then, a rush of strength, an influx of energy that I swear could have lit up an entire city!
I left the laboratory, and began to roam the countryside. I ran, faster and faster, a deer, a gazelle, a streak of light…I have to stop, even now, and take a breath to calm myself, for the memories are fresh and exhilarating, and I find myself itching to inject myself yet again.
Over the next few days, these feelings of power remained, and yet slowly began to fade. Now, I can still feel the effects of my experiment, but they are muted and weak. A pale echo of the power which was once mine. Sadly, in my exuberance, I failed to take a sample of my blood. How could I think of experimentation, when all I wanted to do was to run, jump, fly! Well, I couldn't fly, but I did feel like I could.
I will have to inject myself again, this time forcing myself to take a few pints of my blood for later tests. I know I will not have the self-control necessary to make these tests until the potency of the Lazarus Sample has faded yet again. I have the syringe here, in front of me, and it is taking the entirety of my will to delay the injection.
January 17, 1997
A new hope. My blood sample has been taken, and waits in a refrigeration unit nearby. Although it lies in the next room, I can hear its soft, electronic hum as I type. Anyway, back to my new hope! As I roamed the village late last night, I came upon a man standing deep in the shadows of an alley. I should not have been able to see him, and yet for some reason my sight seemed to pierce the gloom.
I approached him, and he took a step towards me, then stopped. He sniffed, a puzzled look on his face. "You smell like sheep, you smell like wolf" he snarled. He smiled, baring (believe it or not!) a set of enlarged upper canines…fangs.
Instinctually, I brought my hand up, delivering a palm-heel strike to his chin. His head rocked back as he spat curses and blood. With a brief word of thanks for my martial arts training, I turned and ran. How I knew he was a threat to me, I know not, and yet the certainty lay within me. I ran like the wind, this…creature…hot on my trail.
He chased me for what seemed like hours, but was likely less than ten minutes. I had a good head start on him, and I swear I could have outrun a panicked horse, and yet he was gaining on me. Slowly, the sky began to lighten, and I came to realize that he sun was rising. A hideous shriek from behind, and I turned to see my pursuer, kneeling in the dirt, and apparently on fire! While no flames were evident, his skin was blistering, bubbling, as if he had been pushed into a raging furnace. I rushed to his side as he slipped from consciousness. Fearing I would be burned myself, I touched his skin, but found it cool. I dragged the unconscious patient for a few miles, staying under the shade of trees and ravines, my increased strength and reflexes serving me well. I feared the patient would die before I could get him to safety, but these fears proved ungrounded. The patient now lies - firmly bound by reinforced steel straps - to a table in my lab. Finally, a living, breathing (well, not breathing) subject to study!
Dr. Henry watched impassively as his superior performed another battery of tests on the blood sample before him. He knew, as he had always known, that these tests would prove fruitless. When he formed the Institute, and hired Gideon, he had hoped that the brilliant geneticist would be able to find a scientific explanation for his own vampirism. These hopes were slim, and yet he felt they were worth exploring.
"Damn it!" Gideon swore, hurling a small vial of blood at a refrigeration unit with all his strength. Augmented as it was by his now regular injections, the glass vial actually dented the steel wall of the fridge. "Every test, every study, every theory, every investigation….USELESS!"
"A wise man once said to me: 'blame not the method, blame not the science, but blame the fool who cannot see the truth before him'," Dr. Henry smiled.
"What blithering idiot told you that?" Gideon snarled, his eyes red from lack of sleep.
"You did. Four days after I first arrived at the Institute."
May 4, 1997
I have managed to learn a few things in my study of a "live" vampire. Yes, you heard me, I called it a vampire. What better word to use? The beast appears to most tests to be dead, and yet lives. I can feed it only blood - at first, that of animals, and later, I arranged for semi-regular shipments from a blood bank that doesn't ask too many questions, as long as the checks are large enough. Thankfully, I have a large budget.
Of all the minor things I have learned, the most important is this: the infectious agent which transmits vampirism is weak; so weak that my body's immune system is able to fight it off without much difficulty. Hence, I need regular infusions of new vampiric blood to maintain my powers. However, I believe that if I could drain myself entirely of blood, and replace it with an infusion of vampiric blood from my test subject, I could "inherit" the entire range of abilities, without need of further injections. Of course, this would kill my test subject. I am willing to make that sacrifice.
I would have preferred to wait until I had removed the unappealing side effects of vampirism, such as the vulnerability to sunlight and the necrotizing agents, but I grow impatient. Of course, once infected, I will no longer age, and thus will have plenty of time to research my condition.
May 7, 1997
The subject has been prepared - and I believe I have as well. I have requisitioned and received a blood purification machine - quite often used in major surgery. I have rigged the machine to replace the blood it takes from me with blood from the vampire. My blood will be collected and stored - fitting that my first meal as a vampire will be of my own blood.
Dr. Henry closed the door behind him, and walked over to the purifier. He switched it off, and opened a side panel. The container which had been secretly added (at his orders) was now empty. Before Gideon had begun, it had contained the collected blood of the seven Tremere elders - a necessary ingredient in the creation of a new Tremere vampire. Reginald turned to stare at his two progeny. His childe lay in torpor - drained of all vitae, it was now little more than a withered husk. Approaching Gideon, Reginald grabbed the sleeping neonate by the scruff, pulling him into a sitting position. Tearing a gash in his own wrist, he shoved his bleeding wrist into Gideon's mouth. The fledgling vampire began instinctively to feed.
"That's it, my child, feed," he smiled.
The next fourteen months proved to be a virtual hell for Gideon. From the beginning of his unlife, his master and grandsire Reginald Wordsworth-Henry had stored up a great deal of pent up rage and anger over his treatment at the hands of his new childe. For every insult, for every slight, Reginald made the geneticist pay ten times over.
Gideon was forced to accelerate his studies, searching for scientific evidence of vampirism, probing for new developments and understandings. Each step of the way, Reginald stood over, and watched. However, afraid of his new master as he was, Gideon managed to hide many of the breakthroughs he actually made.
During this time, Reginald begrudgingly taught Gideon about vampire society (but deliberately taught him wrong - flaw of Twisted Upbringing), as well as a few tricks (Celerity, Domination and Thaumaturgy). He even taught his student a magical Ritual (Wake with Morning's Freshness). Gideon, for his part, does not believe in magic, but recognizes the power of his skills and rituals. For his part, he believes these abilities have scientific explanations.
Eventually, Reginald gave up in disgust. He believed Gideon had been unable to find a scientific basis for vampirism. Gideon had, in fact, learned a few things, and had managed to increase his body's ability to digest blood (merit Efficient Digestion). He also managed to alter his vampire heritage enough to enable him to wake during the day if danger threatened (light sleeper).
Unknown to Gideon, Reginald decided to cut his losses, and leave. He disliked his student, and so did not warn him that he was going to "leak" the location of his lab to his Tremere superiors (flaws of Infamous Sire and Sire's Resentment). This infamy, coupled with the fact that Gideon was technically self-embraced (flaw of Dark Secret) placed the fledgling in a dangerous situation.
Gideon was hard at work one evening, thanking providence that, for a change, Reginald was not hanging over his shoulder. His work was interrupted by a loud explosion. Unsure as to what was happening, Gideon was sure, however, that he did not want to hang around to watch. He immediately ran to Reginald's offices (which he had secretly searched several months earlier). There, in a desk drawer, he found what he was searching for - plane tickets and other documents placed here in case Reginald had to make a quick mistake. Luckily for Gideon, his master had forgotten them - or perhaps, left them here on purpose.
Gideon escaped via a back entrance while a number of Tremere magi stood nearby, casting spell after spell, and demolishing the laboratory. His documents in hand, Gideon slipped into the night, and traveled towards Heathrow. His possessions were limited to the clothes on his back, a pistol (Glock 22), and a sword-cane he had built specially a few years back while taking a fencing course. He breathed a sigh of relief, thanking fate that he still had access to his research funds.