Sunday, 30 September 2012

things must be done decently and in order

This is the last post that I will ever write.

The last few months of my silence have been built on the principle of Vir sapit qui pauca loquitur, but it seemed wrong to leave this memoir open ended. Cruel, even. Perhaps it is vain to assume that my story is followed by anyone who gives a damn anymore, but I figured that this was the right way to do things. We live and die, nothing more than words on a virtual page. I can't even give you all the pleasure of wet ink on paper, loops and dips making mountains and valleys that can capture the effective psyche of any given person if you look at it just so. I suppose, however, this will have to be enough.

I am just a man. A man that watched people die in the war, who was stuck as a medic, but I always have been that; just a man. In fact, and I think I have made this fact clear many times. My intellect has always been the only extraordinary thing about me, but it has always been evident that even I was vulnerable in regards to the most basic of vices. Fear. Pride. Self preservation. For all my bloody talking, my diatribes and speeches how I was better than the Runners or even the average Proxy, it all only turned out to be the deranged ramblings of a delusional man. Ha. I'd hardly be the first in that regard. But I always felt that I strived for honesty in my work, strived to push the limits as much as I could when it came to what I should and should not reveal to the masses. But that doesn't matter to me anymore. It's not about the "Game" or the "Challenge" or anything that juvenile or superfluous. I no longer care about whether I live or die. I probably haven't cared about such a thing for a long time, and this blog... only served to stay me off that realization. Homo praesumitur bonus donec probetur malus. One is innocent until proven guilty. But now, the only proof I need is contained within a glance in a mirror; sunken, dull eyes, deep bruises on high, thin cheekbones, purple flowers blooming on the pale, delicate skin of my neck, various cuts, inflicted with knives and glass and heaven knows what else. I keep my body breathing because that is all that I have, I spend my days alone, waiting in dark alleyways and dilapidated, abandoned relics that span from here to nowhere, waiting for nothing in particular.

 I see why you all run, now. There's a certain freedom to knowing that you are only staying ahead of certain death. It frees you from physical things. Vanity and neurosis become nothing in the face of the drive of survival, but the guilt always stays, ever-present and suffocating. I almost enjoy it now, as I have certainly run out of any self-pity I used to possess. I still haven't seen Him; never really have. Maybe once or twice when I was a child. There's a certain badge of honour, I suppose, that has to do with that; how I got myself into this mess by pure chance; a balance of probabilities that lined up just so and aligned to the universe in a just right sort of way. Maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps it should be a badge of shame.

I left my post after securing the safety of my team, when it became clear that the Organization had no handle on the Crimson King anymore, about the time that he began to launch his assault with the army that we all knew he had but wished he didn't. From what I've heard from the various Runners and Proxies who would seek out my talents in the medical arts, nobody, however, knew how hard he'd hit right from the beginning. I've filled a few things in on my own while on the run (really, if they didn't want anyone digging up confidential files, they shouldn't have digitized in the first place), and apparently our favourite Scarlet Knight took down the Highest and Moriarty's operation in one stroke; after all, what did the Organization have but a vicegrip of fear and false promises of normality? What did Moriarty have aside from a drug that made you stronger, faster, sharper, and more bloodthirsty, but as we later would find out and keep from all of you, would kill you in the end as you screamed bloody murder, a slave to withdrawal? And so now the mysterious beings who calculated our every move in the name of a creature than we do not understand are now either slaughtered by the very being that they manufactured, or are currently grappling with it for control. I have no fondness for the Devil, we all know that, but at this point, a bet against him is a bet that I'm not entirely sure I would win. The Second has exceeded all expectations, and that is the part of this whole mess that should unsettle everyone the most, and yet it's almost kind of ironic in hindsight; Author, the Highest that conducted my own trial after my kidnapping at the hands of Moriarty's men, is now the direct opposition to the monster that wears the face of the result of his rather marvellous pedigree. Writer mentioned something to this effect a long time ago, and according to my research, the resemblance isn't just a co-incidence. I am, however, certain of one thing; the man that myself and many of my former Proxy brothers pushed towards certain death, Spencer Fitzgerald, was not close to being aware of his lineage. Author, however, was aware of such a thing. Perhaps he took pleasure in watching the son he never loved nor cared about be forged into a powerful tool. For the few Runners that are left, and perhaps whatever Proxies are now involved in this stupid war, maybe this will show you the kind of man Author is. No, rather, the kind of crafter Author is. To use the word "man" in this context seems to be a travesty of language. Be prepared; humanity is no longer something that dwells within him. Not anymore.

However. There is no reason for you to believe my words. After all, here I am, branded a traitor and a coward, hiding from my own crimes for no reason that I can articulate. I do not deny that I was the source of the information  that ruined both Sam- no, Nightscream and myself. Why did I allow myself to trust Redlight when he came to me and planted the idea that Nightscream was hiding something; something that could be taken away in an instant? I never expected to find what I did. Never expected for such a thing to be wrenched from my hands and handed along to god bloody knows who. I never would have done something like endanger the innocent and the blameless for my own gain. That, however... is all I can advocate for myself, all I can say in my own defence. My own lack of hindsight, allowing myself to be blinded by pride... and then, then ruining the very person that I once called my ally and my friend is something that even I can't forgive myself for. Perhaps in my new life as nothing more than insignificant vermin, I am looking for redemption? Forgiveness? My own self from six months ago would be disgusted at what I've become. And yet I've found a simple happiness in accepting my own imminent death. Everyone does. It is only a matter of time before you do as well.

And as for me? I suppose my story is ending. Nightscream has every right to bathe in my blood and I... refuse to keep Sam from doing so. Perhaps this is my own, last misguided notion of what friendship is. Perhaps this is all I can give. It doesn't matter anymore. Nothing does. There's a twisted but wonderful beauty in realizing that yourself, even as a living being, is nothing in the face of the cosmos. But there's also a twisted but wonderful beauty in being human, despite the weaknesses that come with that.

I've spent my whole life running from that fact. I think that it is time for me to face it.

After all, Nothing clears up a case so much as stating it to another person.

Keep alive, and yours truly,


alternatively, for the uniformed,

Winston Churchill Trudeau

I'm sorry. So, so bloody sorry. For everything.

Monday, 11 June 2012

In Which I Hold A Job Interview

You might have read that last report. Something 1A said stuck out.

"We've been cured"
And she kept up with it after I started cutting, oddly enough.
Now, this piqued the boss's interest as much as it did mine. Someone has been spreading lies to these poor, naive little fucks. So I elected to do some footwork and sniff out the disseminator of this awful rumour. Pro bono publico, you understand.

Someone has to be putting these ideas in your silly little heads, and I had a good idea who. After all, the rest of that little exchange included the name of the boss's absolute favourite person. So without further ado, I'll be getting on to the point.

Presented for your approval, Case #44531 [M101]

I tracked the rumour down by means of an initially uncooperative colleague. (I'm sure his hand will be fine in a month or two and besides you only need one hand to fill out reports. Maybe it'll free up someone useful to cover for him.)
He'd run into another case of this particular delusion and once I'd broken a few of his fingers was quite precise as to where the individual had been found. I'll cut out the next three hours of bumming around and one brief interlude of violence. Suffice it to say, I finally got a decent lead.

The particular prevaricating prick that my lead produced was holed up in a dingy bar. He seemed to fancy himself a bit of a mafioso. Now, procedure dictates that in an M101 case, one not engage without sufficient backup, in case there are bastards with guns and swat gear hiding somewhere nearby.

That being said, what's the fun in waiting? So I strolled in and I was very disappointed. There were five guys. Total. The guy behind the bar had a shotgun underneath the counter, two very heavyset gentlemen with guns at the door, our... recruiter, and his bodyguard in the back of the room. So I put on an act.

My performance of "Tired and frightened runner" wasn't one for the books but none of them were the sharpest tools in the shed. Hell, there are blunt instruments sharper than some of this lot.

The recruiter, one Mr. "White" (incidentally the colour of his suit) talked a big game, about how his "organization" would be able to cure me but that he didn't have the supply on hand (for obvious reasons). To his credit, he had enough brains not to let me anywhere near him without one of the big guys behind me. So not a complete idiot.

I'm surprised that the bodyguard didn't draw on me, he looked to be the only one who really knew what he was doing. Probably one of the swat goons. It was odd.
In fact, the whole thing smelt... funny. I mean, the two heavies looked like they'd have tried to tear me apart with their bare hands before drawing their guns, and the bodyguard had this funny way of staring at things. Kind of like he was seeing something wasn't there. And not in the usual sort of way.
Whatever it was, it slowed him down enough that he didn't quite reach his gun in time. He caught a knife in the throat. The barman on the other hand seemed to know what he should be doing and managed to get both of his shots off. Thankfully it wasn't a very good shotgun. Pulls to the right quite a bit and the barman must have thought he was Rambo, firing from the hip like that. It royally fucked up his aim much to the chagrin of the goon behind me.

Bit of really bad luck for him, great for me. He'd just grabbed me in a fucking bear hug when the shotgun blast meant for me hit him. (Like I said, it pulls to the right) Dead centre, too. If he'd weighed about 200 pounds less it would have knocked him right off of his feet. As it was he made a pretty good shield from the second blast, when he fell on top of me. Managed to get his gun though, so it sort of worked out.

The second heavy just came out swinging. Didn't even bother going for his gun. I managed to push his buddy out from on top of me. Barely. I tried to get a shot off and he swung at my head. Had to slide under a table to get away from him. Gave me a second to shoot him though, thank god. Lucky break, it could have ended badly, whatever the fuck he was on the man was strong as an ox. And about twice as big. A good swing and I'd be nursing quite a few broken ribs I think. At best.

That just left the barman, now frantically trying to reload his gun crouched behind the counter, and of course our rumourmonger. I unloaded the rest of my gun into the bar. It was made of plywood. Work out what happened for yourself.

Getting down to business. Our now frantic rumourmonger is trying vainly to get the gun out from the safety holster that his goon escort was wearing. The point of a safety holster is that other people aren't supposed to be able to get the gun out of it.
We had a short discussion, and I decided to bring him in for questioning. He also had a rather nice suit, which I borrowed after I knocked him out. About this time there was a knock at the back door. I borrowed the suit in question and went to see what the fuss was.

Well worth the trouble. Two more runners. The back room was used for poker games, and apparently walk-in cases hoping to get this "cure".
"Come on in boys. Have a seat."
We chat for a bit before it becomes quickly obvious that these two don't know a thing. They'd heard the information third-hand. At best. Might as well make the most of the opportunity.

"Well, our organization is small, but there's a lot of room for enterprising individuals such as yourselves. Well, I say a lot..." People become remarkably cooperative when you point a gun at them. "We've got one opening available right now, so here's a thought." Toss one of my knives between the two of them. "Call it a practical assessment. Winner gets the spot." Very cooperative.

I think young Mr. Robinson will do just fine incidentally. A little sloppy but I personally think he's got a lot of potential. So that should help a little with the lack of people to do work around here.

Let me make one thing abundantly clear little darlings. There's not a cure for our particular brand of fucked up. You want to go drink the kool-aid? Fine. Be my guest. It means that we're going to kill you. Or you can be smart little runners and stay the hell away from the likes Mr. "White" and maybe live a little longer.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

you can see everything

You fail, however, to reason from what you see. You are too timid in drawing your inferences.

I have felt, lately, that some of you are missing the whole point of this little charade in the name of friendship or magic or whatever is floating through your bloody minds. It makes no difference to me, but the point still stands; perhaps some of you are even harbouring what amounts to concern. It's kind of sickening, when you think about it, if not a little misguided. So let me make something perfectly clear for all of you, because what is evident is that you lot only observe what you want to observe.

This is not for you.

And I mean that in the plainest sense, with absolutely no animosity or spite; there's no need for that, especially in the face of this kind of incredible stupidity. Somewhere along the way, between my hilarious quips and subsequent complaints, an important fact became lost; I was, originally, commanded to create this blog and document my thoughts and actions. Since then, the order has changed, but in its most basic form, it still stands, undisturbed.

Every single dialogue we've shared, every piece of information I've presented, every single observation I've given? All part of the job. Nothing more, nothing less.

I suppose that part of the illusion is the comfort it provides. Perhaps it allows for you to think better of what you are yet to become when you see someone like me, someone who, maybe, is deep down a rather normal and likeable bloke, someone who you could see yourself being - if everything went well and truly sour. Trivialization is a fascinating phenomena; because it's something people will do right up to when they're about to die.

I've never fancied myself to be a liar. That's the messy sort of business, the business of my predecessors, and probably my successors. In our world (and yours, not matter how much you'd like to deny it), moral superiority means absolutely nothing aside from assigning you some kind of label of self-righteousness that one might like to believe helps them sleep better at night, but most probably doesn't, and yet it bothers me when it might be speculated that I am outright deceiving someone. And so we come to this; this is me, telling you,

Wake. Up.

Because if we ever cross paths while I'm on shift, I'm not showing you one ounce of bloody mercy.

Maybe this, all of this, is what some of you need to stay sane. To survive. Maybe you have nothing else left. And that?

That's a damn shame.


Report: Case 4705F - On 062951413's performance in the face of mild adversity

In keeping with the longtime and honourable tradition of useless and rather concerning paper trails, below I, 753381046, also known as "Sherlock", also known as "Joseph", have documented my mutual hunt of two (2) targets, as this mission acted as a diagnostic assessment for the new Squad Leader of the Baker Squad.

Formal request for previous district record and file was granted approximately [REDACTED] days ago.

062951413, also known as "Orion", also known as "Lister", requested the transfer of Division himself, leaving a seemingly comfortable job in one of the least active areas in the region. Though I cannot fathom what would cause him to do such a thing, 062951413 seems to follow orders well and without question, and preformed well in the situation. His only fault is that he has an obvious flare for the dramatic, which I cannot overlook with a clear conscience; if it gets in the way of results, I can assure you that he will be severely reprimanded, which will be put onto his record as a formal complaint, and I will scale punishment accordingly.

062951413 was officially dispatched at 23:00, unaware of my presence. I observed him exiting his place of residence, carrying various sharp objects (though I can safely say that he prefers a long razor in combat situations, [REDACTED] to incapacitate. It's high-risk but also high-return method, and will most likely prove useful against the killsquads. Of course, there's always the possibility of horrible, horrible failure, and if that is the case then 062951413 will most likely end up a smear on grimy concrete, a thought that, though morbidly entertaining, is also sobering).

4705F: 1A  - B

(I would like to note that the case title is inaccurate; though I originally tried to classify it as 4705F [M101], I was rebuked and told that [M101] was an official designation only to be used in cases confirmed to have Moriarty involvement, not in cases where involvement is suspected but can not be proved. Because the culminative amount of cases with confirmed Moriarty involvement can be counted on one hand, I have not only requested that the criteria of the [M101] designation be changed, but also have formally requested for the absolute numbskull that made the previous designation requirements to be dragged into the street and shot.)

Ah, 4705F 1A and B! We've had our collective on those two for a while now, the main reason being because they were not yet dead via evisceration or another method that our suited friend seems to enjoy so much. When 062951413 was ordered to eliminate them by any means necessary, I took it upon myself to accompany him. After all, who would leave such a delicate operation in the hands of the district amateur? I must note, however, that it is not that I didn't trust 062951413 to do the job, but rather took it upon myself to report on his actions, as per the orders handed down to me from the top; I know that my observational reports are quite highly regarded in terms of accuracy, and I can say with certainty that this document should be fully inducted into official records.


4705F 1A and B, female and male, seemingly related. 1A was known to be wily, evading passive capture and interrogation attempts, and was approximated to have been on the run for about four months. 1B, however, had only been accompanying 1A for about two weeks.

Fact: both subjects were seemingly unnoticed by the Tall Gentleman during the length of our observation, and Fact: they were in contact with some kind of outside... interference.

It is suspected that agents of Moriarty paid 1B a bit of a visit. What they did, however, is currently unknown.

They were apprehended by 062951413 with myself assisting after a few hours of direct surveillance. It may be noted at this time that while his skill demonstrated was rather impressive, 062951413 seemed to want to spill blood more than he wanted to finish the job, as ordered. His "interrogation", however, proved fruitful. 1A, while her skin was slowly being peeled off her body, screamed something about being "cured".

Cured. Rather troubling, wouldn't you say so, Sir(s) and Madame(s)...?

Formal request for official inquiry has been filed.

I disposed of 1B myself after an incident that involved a fair bit of... disrespect. It may be noted that 062951413 is free to comment on the incident if he so wishes, but I did not abuse my privileges as Handler. It may also be noted that removing teeth while the target is still alive, while messy, is also shockingly practical once said target is set on fire. I was informed the body was downright impossible to identify by the cleaning crews.

Formal request to have the technique taught to trainees in the future has been filed.

In conclusion, the investigation and subsequent elimination of 4705F 1A and B proved not only fruitful by way of information gathering, but also as a test of 062951413's abilities. I can say with a clear conscience that he will not disappoint, and has a bright future in regards to the Organization as a whole.

Expecting back the results of my filing within the month,



Tuesday, 5 June 2012

In Which I Blather About the State of Affairs

So, for those of you who think perhaps we're being bone idle, let me take a minute from the fucking paperwork to inform you otherwise. (I swear we didn't have this much paperwork in my division)

We (in this case we being the boss and myself) have been stuck with the problem that the squad is now operating well below where it ought to right now.

Normally, we'd find some replacements but apparently I'm the only one mad enough to come out here voluntarily. (Correction, the only competent person mad enough to come out here voluntarily.)

And that part about voluntarily is important because between the shake ups some of you might be aware of and other people not returning our calls, we can't get anyone out here. I mean literally we can't get any transfers. (Looks like Morningstar had the last orders to go through. The bastard)

So either we start a recruiting drive (like that'll fucking work), or we're going to have to go and have a few talks with some people (and the clean up will not be fun).

How's that for hospitality?

Saturday, 26 May 2012

In Which We Go To Meet The Boss

I don't know what it is about these people and their suits. The handlers that is. You see enough of them and you get the impression it's a kind of fucking uniform. Real corporate.

Anyways, here comes the new boss, same as the old boss

I've visited the Cafe loop before, the new year's thing was nice up until people forgot that they were supposed to be having a good time. They've all got a different sort of... flavour to them. Loops, I mean.

The Boss, Joseph, Sherlock, whatever you want to call him, is sitting at a table in the back waist deep in paperwork, scowling. Off to a fantastic start. Straighten the tie up. Cough, good plan.

We manage to make what passes for polite conversation for all of a minute before getting this gem

"I'm not your boss. Ever seen the Tall Gentleman for yourself, Lister? That's your boss. And that's the funniest joke of all."

Now, I've seen old Tall, Gaunt and Faceless. He likes the woods well enough, doesn't he? You don't really forget seeing him, but I've seen him often enough.

"You're the man with the papers. You're the one that gives the orders. Way I see it that makes you the boss, boss."

"I've read your file. Quite the up and coming Agent it seems. But you... requested to be transferred here, to my understanding."

"Some sort of problem boss?

"Simply wondering about your motivations, Lister." He gives this sort of grin. It's not friendly. "Everyone knows that each division is at odds with the others. We all almost seem to practice a silly sort of elitism. So you'll have to forgive my confusion - but why would such an asset choose to head a squad like this...?"

It's true. I asked for the transfer here. It was too quiet in that little corner that I was stuck in, and that's all you'll hear from me on that subject.

"You want the honest answer or the shit one boss?"
Whatever you might hear, some of us who don't deal in this blog garbage do actually keep our ears to the ground. Surprising, I know.
"You decide. But I assume you've been told enough about me to know which choice is the right one, and which choice is going to make working under me quite possibly the worst experience of your entire life thus far."He's read my file, I've been... is briefed the right word? I think so, in any case, briefed regarding Sherlock.
"Well, when you put it like that I don't rightly believe that there's what you might call a 'right' answer."

I take a seat at this point, and start drinking, dry throat is unpleasant as I'm sure you know. "I mean, if I give you the shit answer odds are you being you would know right? And the honest answer doesn't quite seem like your thing. So, if you don't mind boss I think I'd rather keep my mouth shut." A little more drinking. "If it's all the same to you."

"..." He stands up, walks past me "Don't let the rest of the squad intimidate you. I think you'll fit in here just fine."

"Well, the creepy fellow's been transfered, as I understand it, and the angry one's a turncoat. So I don't think I should have any problems with the rest."

"Ronin doesn't like anybody." That, at least, gets a bit of a laugh. Which is good, last handler I had was a humourless, religious son of a bitch. "But he usually does as he's told. Just keep your wits about you. That being said..." And he some how manages to pull a houdini with my hip flask. Right out of my damn hand. Haven't seen that trick before.

"You've been promoted. Act like it. If any of them die, I'll be making sure you get the harshest hearing possible." He gets real quiet. Very serious. "Understood...?"

"Clear as mud boss." I get up and get ready to leave. "Only, could I have the water back?"

He stops for a second, and brings the flask up like it's just been dipped in raw sewage. So I take it off him and put it back where it belongs. Useful thing, a good hip flask, and I'm kind of fond of this one. It's like a good knife. You take care of it you've got nothing to worry about.


"I'm expecting your completed transfer paperwork on my desk early tomorrow morning. Otherwise?" He didn't like mentioning the next part. "Make yourself at... home."

I think this will do just fine.

(Door Closing)

Dear me Sherlock, what on earth have you been doing to poor "Photographer"? Torture, I'm sure you of all people couldn't possibly condone that sort of thing. Regardless, he's an absolute shambles. This will take ages to fix. 
I've taken the liberty to post his farewell. It seems only fair. 

Preparations complete for transfer, awaiting finalization of orders.
It has been Pleasant working with Baker Squad.
Believe I will miss ... this.

Fiametta, I have taken Hamish with me, I hope that you do not mind. Perhaps if you let "Joseph" look he might find you another cat.

"Joseph", believe you will exceed Expectations. I am still indebted to you regarding the sniper. Took the liberty of fixing the blog for you. Hope you don't object.

Janitor, has been an honour working with you.

Ronin, try not to perform more Inadvisable Actions.

. . . . . -

Saturday, 19 May 2012

you are the one fixed point in a changing age

But there's an east wind coming all the same; such a wind as never blew on our battlefield yet. It will be cold and bitter, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it's His own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared...

... What a crock of shit.

I'm having trouble renewing what amounts to "blind faith" these days. Though I've never been one for abandoning my own paradigms and throwing caution to the wind in the name of belief, it's certainly proving difficult to summon anything more than a sliver of hope. Sunshine? Is that supposed to be a bloody joke? This conflict is getting darker than it's ever been, and yet the Tall Gentleman stands, forever unchanging....

And what a forecast of doom and gloom we've had lately! If anyone wears a hat of grey in this moralistic spat, I'm sure they've been finding recent developments rather entertaining. They're also a giant prat, if anyone's asking, but that's besides the point. Analysis of information is slow and on-going, because it seems that we have about five false feeds for every legitimate one (and yet the Organization refuses to acknowledge that there's even a chance of an infiltrator within our midsts! Truly, every single day they find new ways to astound and surprise their ever so loyal employees.); because of that, it is up to whomever has a speck of free time to bite the figurative, but possibly soon to be literal, bullet and sort out what is true and what isn't. As talented as some of us are, humanity has its limitations, though I'm sure some of you out there have doubts to how much humanity we of the Tall Gentleman possess.

Humanity is certainly a topic, however, that I'd rather not bring up at the moment. My trip to examine the workings of a Cult town were, at best, disturbing. If anything, they're efficient, but you'll have to excuse my disgust for a system that is effectively Battle Royal de-fictionalized, with additions of A Clockwork Orange and perhaps a little sliver of Dr. Joseph Mengel.

Yes, it is that bad. Not that I didn't have warning; granted, "Maybrick", (alternatively Tom O'Harra, one of the only other Handlers in the Hyperion District; that being the one I belong to, of course) did offer some words of advice before I set off.

"You're not going to like what you see, Sherlock." Was the first thing I heard upon going into head office to pick up my orders; a bustling place, looking completely like a normal, busy office space. Granted, I wasn't exactly privy to the fact that the female voice I was currently hearing belonged to Ms. O'Harra herself, nor was I made aware that Ms. O'Harra was, in fact, a Miss. I felt myself whirl around, instantly on guard, hand hovering on my combat knife beneath my coat. Facing me was a tall woman in a perfectly tailored suit set, hair pulled into a truly impeccable bun, not one strand out of place.

"Oh? And why is that...?" I must admit I raised an eyebrow as I zeroed in on a stack of paperwork tucked under her arm - and the signature that was on it. The issue of her identity now reasonably solved, I was able to finally focus on her response.

"You're not exactly known for your lack of emotional response in situations like these." She sighed, not even looking at me as she set down the stack on one desk, not even pausing before she picked up another. "I know every little dirty secret about you, after all. Well..." She stopped, holding up an overstuffed file. "I know whatever is in this thing, anyways."

I have to admit, I didn't actually expect her to abuse her position, if you could consider such a thing abuse. Everyone in the district knows that Tom - my apologies, "Maybrick" - is almost the unofficial office junkie out of all of us. Certainly, it would be impossible for the other Handlers to function without her, as her assistance is what keeps the district organized, up, and running; but the thought of her using her power to get the scoop on the rest of us didn't even cross my mind. In hindsight, this was incredibly stupid of me, and Ms. O'Harra must have recognized my shocked expression. Her short tut was enough to snap me out of my contemplative daze; she took to straightening my loose tie, signalling to another office-attire clad proxy (or at least I assumed them to be proxies; after further study, I have concluded that may not have been the case) to go get something, a short wait later, revealed to be coffee.

"That being said, you've got an annual due in fifteen days, three reports due in seven, and two sets of transfer paperwork that need to be in as soon as possible. That's on top of your progress reports on the Moriarty issue and the write up on your current mission." Her expression softened as I reacted to the reminder with wide eyes and tense shoulders.

"... Hey, relax, alright...? [REDACTED] and I will help you through this. I should call you Bambi, for heaven's sake..." My breath hitched, and she turned her head; I caught crow's feet on the edge of her eyes. "It'll be fine, Holmes. Trust me."

And with that, she tightened my tie with expert efficiency, and the moment was gone. I muttered a "Thank you" and "I'm sorry, It'll get done soon" under my breath, and walked out without another word.


I think the overwhelming normalcy of the Cult was what surprised me the most. Because I've seen what, or more accurately who was a result of such a system, I, perhaps, expected some sort of, I don't know, a coliseum of sorts? Perhaps a picturesque village, complete with total silence and patches of rust upon the ground that, yes, may be blood? No, the place I was lead to certainly looked... ordinary. Instead of horrible visions of horror and suffering, I was instead treated to what seemed to be a well built and rather nondescript compound. Trees flanking all sides of the camp aside from the road outwards, it almost seemed like a resort, or vacation spot. Somewhere you'd take your elderly parents and kids.

But the air of this place... it's hard to describe as anything other than completely wrong. Like it's too thick to be in your lungs, like it's crawling down your throat, invading you, drowning you; and the light seems oversaturated and unnatural, casting over everything, as if it was a stifling blanket that made every single surface look painted, surreal.

That was simply my initial impression. What followed was somewhat unnerving; though it certainly was fascinating in a morbid sense. I was shown around the compound by Deus, the current leader of Cult Operations. "I, of course, only hold any sort of sway if you so allow it, Sir." He offered as we walked, but I informed him that I wanted little to nothing to do with this place. He gave a robotic nod, then proceeded to enthusiastically describe each and every torture that they put their trainees through in each area.

I saw the "Nurturing compound"; rows upon rows of blank faced, swollen bellied mothers, seemingly unaware that they were effectively cattle.

I saw the trainees themselves; either scrawny, almost feral in nature, or unnaturally calm and expressionless.

I saw the execution grounds, the nooses on trees for those deemed not good enough to be of service, the bloodied axe and chopping block for those who broke the rules, the single concrete wall marked by bullet holes, for those who could not be controlled or killed by simpler means.

All while Deus chattered in my ear, telling me of the great "Servants of God" they've produced, how much pride they have in their work, and how effective their methods are.

I met Harpole, who watched over the trainees most, a young man with a bright smile and dead eyes.

I met Sycora, who would regularly send trainees to their deaths, her full lips constantly drawn into a thin line.

I met Fairfax, who cared for the cattle and catered to their every need - which never went beyond food and water.

I met Costanzo, who existed solely to break the trainees who rebelled; a man with so many scars on his arms that the raised white skin almost made up their entirety.

It's truly difficult to understand the scope of this operation until you see it. They need none of my help or guidance. The system is self sustained. They live, breathe, and produce; thinking nothing of consequence or morality. And the proxies sent to us from such a place will fight until they die, or will be able to weave worlds out of nothing. It's truly amazing, in my opinion.

It will be allowed to operate as usual. I will do nothing to stop it. The Organization, after all, needs soldiers, and who better to die in a war than those who grew up wanting nothing more than to die...?

... and after I left

I turned

and puked.