The mysterious substance known as the Darkness was first recorded in the late 1800s by a group of Secret Service agents who had been charged with the investigation of several strange events in New Orleans. Only fragmentary information concerning these men has been uncovered, though, due to a disturbing conspiracy of silence surrounding them and their activities. By all accounts, the Darkness takes form as a viscous black liquid. Each seething tendril is an extension of the whole. To sever an offshoot or isolate a single drop is to confine an aspect of the whole. No matter how minute, the Darkness survives and propagates. A single malignant purpose guides every ounce of it.
In 1865, the same year that the American Civil War concluded, the USSS (United States Secret Service) was founded as a branch of the Treasury Department that today holds the distinction of being the oldest federal law enforcement agency of the United States government. Founded by Hugh McCulloch, with the consent of President Lincoln, the Secret Service was originally charged with combating counterfeiting, but then began protecting the President in 1901.
The first Secret Service Chief was a man named William P. Wood. He started with only ten agents, mostly private investigators, and began tracking down counterfeiters. By 1870, there were twenty-four agents working for the Secret Service, eight of which were ordered by Wood to investigate a shipping company headquartered in New Orleans. We do not know exactly why Wood sent these agents to Louisiana, however, what they discovered went far beyond simple "boodling" (counterfeiting).
The chief investigator that Wood sent to New Orleans was a man named Leonard Cabbot. We presume that it was because Cabbot was born and raised in Louisiana that Wood placed him in charge. Cabbot, though, was a strange man by all accounts. According to information that we have gathered about him, he was born in 1840 and although he was a southerner, records show that he enlisted in a volunteer regiment in New York and fought for the Union during the war. Afterwards, he worked at Pinkerton's Detective Agency and then in 1866 was recruited for the USSS. According to letters written between Wood and McCulloch, Cabbot was competent, but not particularly liked by other members of Secret Service. We know that Wood himself did not care for Cabbot, and his distaste for the man may have had more to do with Cabbot's New Orleans assignment than his background or investigative prowess.
According to research conducted by Walter de Mesnil in 1973, sometime in the middle of the 1860s, an Australian cargo ship registered under the name Brittanicus started on a journey through the Indian Ocean, from its home port in Perth to New Orleans. Sometime after its departure, the Brittanicus picked up a load of slaves bound for America. However, the ship never reached port as it foundered on the seas just beyond the Chandeleur Islands in the Gulf of Mexico and was never seen again. That was, until the small island of Jut in the Breton chain was purchased after the war by a group of freemasons as a retreat. They subsequently discovered the remains of the ship which had been driven into the rocks that line the perimeter of the island. What they discovered within the rotting hulk would have repercussions that extended well into the 1980s.
What they found was an inky black substance that, in Cabbot's words, "...devours all life. It is a malign and vile substance that shows all signs of being alive and possessing of an intelligence, though by what means I do not know. Every time I think that I understand its nature, the damned stuff confounds me again. One thing is certain though, it is evil."
Cabbot and his fellow agents uncovered a salvaging operation taking place on Jut. The freemasons who owned the island were hauling heavy wooden casks, such as one might have found wine stored in, out of the Brittanicus' hold, and were transporting them to a storehouse in New Orleans. Shortly after arriving at the city, Cabbot discovered the Darkness that they contained.
While we have discovered much about the Origins of the darkness in America, we have yet to determine what the real goal of the Brittanicus was, or why the freemasons were so intent on salvaging the derelict ship. What we do know is that somehow, Cabbot convinced Wood that the Darkness was something that had to be contained and, if possible, destroyed at all costs. McCulloch was subsequently given the authority by the Executive Branch to seize the contents of the freemason's storehouse. As many barrels of Darkness as could be found were then transported by secure railroad cars to an Army fort in Vicksburg. To the best of our knowledge, Cabbot never learned the whereabouts of the Brittanicus.
After some examinations were made by the US Army, President Grant created a ancillary group of Secret Service agents with Leonard Cabbot as its head, whose sole purpose was to track down any Darkness in the United States.
Over the course of the next few years Cabbot had his family home in Barnett, Louisiana converted into a temporary holding facility for any Darkness that he or his men recovered.
For undisclosed reasons, in 1892, President Cleveland dismantled Cabbot's group by executive order and had all official records of its existence destroyed. All of the Darkness kept at the Vicksburg fort was transported to a secure facility in somewhere in Colorado. However, we do not believe that this included the Darkness stored at Cabbot's house.
Despite all of this, Cabbot and his former agents continued to investigate the Darkness in private. Cabbot himself disappeared in the summer of 1900 somewhere in Nebraska.
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