Wednesday, May 29, 2013

For me, it’s only been a few hours since my last post, but I felt like making this one as well. I don’t know how long it’s been on the outside. Apparently Fracture’s going to take control of Phoenix in a week. Took control of Phoenix in a week. Whatever, stupid tenses. Given our current state, I can’t really complain.

I’ve been doing a little talking around while we waited for the scouting teams to report back. Much as I loathed doing so, I did have a short conversation with Ahriman, so I could ask him where he’d learned to fight like he had against Arkady.

Ah: “Bosnia. 1992 to 1995.”

I have absolutely no idea how anyone is supposed to respond to that answer, so I let him get back to coordinating things. It almost makes me wish I had also interviewed him about his past before this. Almost.

Lepidus was busy doing attending to the wounded, so I was only able to talk to him for a little while. A lot of proxies are hurt, but most of the injuries are minor. Unfortunately, that’s because none of the proxies with major injuries were able to make it to us.

D: “So what happened there?”

L: “I wish I knew. I’ve never seen anything like this, and no one I’ve talked to has either. I thought it might be the Path of Black Leaves, but it doesn’t match the descriptions I’ve read. Too many colors, and there aren’t any leaves on the trees or ground. Maybe Truth knows more, but no one’s heard from him.”

*Lepidus had to splint a broken arm, but once he finished he started talking again.*

L: “How are you holding up?”

D: “I’ll be fine. I’m just a little shocked. What about you?”

L: “I’m too busy right now to worry much. I expect as soon as I run out of patients I’ll start panicking, but I’ll deal with that when it comes.” *He stared out a window at the swamp for a few moments.* “I keep looking for familiar faces amongst my patients, but I’m not finding many. We won’t be able to get an official count anytime soon, but I think we lost two or three dozen people down there. I’ve never seen that many of our people killed in such a short time. Not even Arkady managed anything like that. I just wish I knew why.”

We only talked a little bit more after that. Next was a conversation that I was almost dreading. Since I’d found the group, Sky had been standing right by a window, looking directly at the red sun as it moved through the smog filled sky, barely moving.  An empty space had formed around her; I think most proxies were too creeped out to come near.

D: “Hey, Sky.”

*She turned around to face me. Her eyes were bloodshot, and that close I noticed that her hands were shaking slightly.*

S: “Yes?” *Her voice seemed slightly different. As if it was more focused than usual.*

D: “How are you feeling?”

S: “Weird.” *She looked up at the ceiling, with her head tilted slightly.* “This place is… familiar. My head doesn’t feel as foggy here. And I can remember things better.”

D: “Oh. Um, what sort of things?”

S: “… The kind that make me remember why I wanted to forget them in the first place.”

D: “Ah. Are you going to be alright?”

S: “… Maybe.”

D: “Um. This may not be the best time, and if you don’t want to talk about it, just let me know. But… what happened to you? Lepidus said you were having a seizure, then you started saying those things, then everything went crazy…. There was a comment someone left, I think it was Rose, asking if you summoned the Boss. Um….”

S: *She barked a single laugh, but the smile from it quickly left.* “No. I didn’t call him. Not that time.”

D: “Wait, that time…?”

S: “But I did feel us moving. Being taken… here. Felt it like a bomb exploding in my head….” *She looked down from the ceiling, and her voice started sounding more like what I was familiar with.* “I’m scared, Diana.”

Before I could say anything to that, I heard Ahriman saying that he’d gotten a call from one of the scouting teams. They’d made it down to the lobby, but there was no sign of the Boss, or of any of the people who had died there. They had requested permission to continue scouting outside, but Ahriman had told them not to risk it, and return back.

A few calls to the other teams confirms that they haven’t reached their destinations yet, which is odd, because the lobby group had the most ground to cover. Maybe they just moved faster, or maybe something weird is going on with them as well. We’ll find out when more reports come in.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I’ve managed to regroup with several surviving proxies. I was happy to see Lepidus and Sky amongst them; less happy to see Ahriman, even if he’s the reason I was able to find the group. As soon as he figured out our internet and phones still work, he’s been sending out calls and emails to as many proxies as possible to try and get everyone back together. I got an email from him not long after my first post went up, asking if I was alive. Once that was confirmed, he gave me directions to reach where we were gathering.

That process has been slowed a bit by the unreliability of our electronics, though. The internet’s still as bad as before, and our phone reception is horrible. My recorder’s finally working again, but there’s a constant chittering background noise whenever I try to pick something up with it. And sometimes, everyone’s equipment will suddenly stop working for a bit without any explanation we can find. It’s been making coordination a bit more haphazard than we’d like.

It’s also hard to figure out how long we’ve been here. Every digital clock anyone has on a phone or computer just says 00:00, and the one analog clock a proxy was wearing is frozen with both hands at 12. That red sun outside hasn’t been any help either, since it seems to move up and down in the sky without any pattern. I tried to check through the internet, but I kept getting contradictory answers. Sometimes it would say we’ve been here for five hours, sometimes we’ve been here for several days, sometimes it would say we’d somehow traveled to the past. All I know is that it doesn’t feel like we’ve been here for a day, but with that sun, there’s really no way to tell.

There hasn’t been any word from Truth, so for now, we’re waiting here until we get a better picture of the situation. Ahriman’s sent out some proxies to scout the nearby floors, so we’re waiting to hear from them. Once we do, hopefully someone will know what to do next.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Into the Tower

No dialogue for this part. As we got closer to Truth’s skyscraper, the recorder started to only pick up static.

There were no valets to take Ahriman’s car this time. No one was outside the building at all, so Ahriman (illegally) parked by the curb, and we ran inside. The lobby looked like an anthill that had been kicked over. Very serious men in suits with impressive looking guns stood by all the entrances, and herded panicking proxies to wherever they needed to go. Manton and his team met us, and told us that a place had been set aside for us to stay until the situation was resolved. Until then, we would stay here, under guard, with all the entrances carefully watched to ensure no one could get inside. For the first time in a month, I breathed a sigh of relief. Lepidus put a hand on my shoulder, and we shared a smile. For us, at least, this little war was over.

A piercing sound shrieked from the earpieces of all the guards, loud enough that even I could hear it. Many of the guards simply collapsed, and even the ones still standing were clutching their heads.

Before I could react to the noise, Sky fell and began to thrash on the floor. In a moment, Lepidus identified it as a seizure, and rolled her onto her side as she started to vomit. I started to come over to help before she hurt herself, but then…

Then a car smashed through the glass front door, running over the prone guards in its way. Arkady jumped out of the car and stabbed the closest standing proxy in the gut. He glanced around the room, and when he saw us, started running at us. All the guards were still incapacitated, and most of the other proxies had run for cover as soon as Arkady showed up. I watched him coming closer, and I knew there was nothing I could do to stop him. He was going to kill me right there, then kill the rest of us, and I was utterly helpless in face of that….

Of all people, it was Ahriman who stepped between Arkady and me. Arkady hit him with another of those hammer like punches, and I was sure that the fight was over then. Ahriman staggered, but kept standing, and brought his fist into Arkady’s chin in an uppercut. I think Arkady was as surprised as I was, because he didn’t even try to block as Ahriman continued to attack.

That shock didn’t last long enough, and soon Arkady was laughing like a kid as he started to viciously fight back. Ahriman held his own better than I thought possible, but it was clear he couldn’t keep it up very long.

Sky suddenly arced her back and began shouting sounds unlike anything that should have come from a young girl’s voice. Fog rolled in through the hole Arkady’s car had made, filling the lobby in seconds. All the lights went out, leaving us in total darkness. Then they came back on, and now the Boss was standing in the center of the lobby. There was a moment of silence as everyone took in his presence. Then, the lights went out again.

When everything went dark this time, the darkness was accompanied by screams. The lights turned back on a few seconds later, and the first thing I saw were bodies everywhere. The Boss was still standing in the same place, but tentacles were coming out of his back, and lashing at everyone around him. Anyone caught by those tentacles was ripped apart in seconds, showering blood and organs all over the room. My first instinct when I saw that was RUN, and I followed that without question, blindly sprinting away from the carnage. I made it a few feet before the lights went off again, and I tripped over something. But instead of falling onto the hard floor, I landed in water. When I stood up, for a moment I was standing in knee deep grey water, illuminated by a faint red glow from above. Then everything went dark, and when I took a step it was back on solid ground. The lights came back, and I was in the lobby again.

I saw the elevator not far from where I was, so I started running to it. Another proxy was already at the door, pressing the up button over and over. A ding sound came from the elevator, and the door opened. The proxy took two steps inside when black roots ripped out from the ground underneath him, wrapping around his legs and pulling him to the floor. More roots wrapped around his body, growing through his eyes and mouth, choking off his screams.

The elevator looked like a no go. I turned around and started to run for the stairs instead. Before I could reach it, the lights went off again, and were replaced by that red glow. When the change occurred, I was again wading through grey water, but this time I was also surrounded by black branches. I pushed my way past them, until I came into an opening. All around me, growing out of the water, were black, leafless trees.

Arkady burst from the trees, looking very disoriented. When he saw me, he raised his knife to attack, but I quickly turned to run.

There was another flash of darkness, and I was back in the lobby, with Arkady nowhere around. The door to the stairwell was so close, and I sprinted as fast as I could, jumping over the roots growing out of the floor. Once past the door, I was taking the steps two at a time, not paying attention to the floor number, just trying to get as far from the lobby as I could, until my lungs were burning too much to breath. I went back out a door, onto a floor filled with cubicles, just as the lights went out again, along with the sound of a gust of howling wind.

The now familiar dim red light quickly came. But this time, I was still inside the building. When I looked out a window, I didn’t see the city of Phoenix outside. Instead, stretching on to the horizon was a foggy swamp dotted with black trees. And in the sky, partially obscured by a ceiling of grey clouds, was a huge red sun.

In the time I’ve been resting on this floor, it hasn’t changed back, so I’m getting the horrible suspicion that I’m stuck wherever this is. My electronics have been acting weird, but they work enough for me to type this. I just have to ignore the random strings of letters and numbers that keep appearing on my screen, or the fact that the clock just says “00:00.” I’m still getting WiFi, but it’s only one bar, and I keep seeing random strings of HTML across most pages. Hopefully it’s still enough for me to get this post up.

I have no idea what’s going on, and I really just want to curl up and hide somewhere. But I need to go and try to see if I can find anyone else.
Alright, two things to start this.

One, I lied about us not being provided with reinforcements.

Two, it didn’t help.

On top of the Jacksons, we had Sloth’s team, our kill team, and another dozen watching the streets, prepared to ambush Arkady whenever he showed up. We made this plan assuming he was going to come by road. That didn’t happen.

I was inside the apartment with Sky and the Jacksons. No one was expecting the fight to reach us, so we were supposed to stay there and wait the whole thing out. Due to the boredom of such a job, I spent most of it staring out a window. Which is the reason I was the only one to see a figure jumping off the roof of the building next to us and grab the fire escape ladder on our building.

I just managed to shout a warning before the window shattered and Arkady burst into the room. Before anyone else could react, he rushed Gabriel and jabbed a knife through is throat. Andrew started to draw a gun, but Arkady punched faster. It was like watching a man being hit by a truck: that fist slammed into Andrew’s head, and it looked like the lights in his eyes flicked off. Gabriel went down into a heap, and didn’t get back up.

Ar: “Ya know, I’d been kinda hoping that Slendy would show up as soon as I smashed that window and we could avoid all these unpleasantries. But it would seem he is failing in his duties as a guardian. Oh well. Guess I have to kill the girl now.”

I grabbed Sky and tried to run out of there, but Arkady moved much faster. He threw me aside, and then slammed Sky against the wall, his hands squeezing her throat. I made the dumb decision of trying to charge him, which ended with me getting knocked to the floor by a backhand.

He’d have killed Sky right there, if one of Sloth’s proxies hadn’t run into the room with a gun. I don’t know if any of the shots hit, because as soon as Arkady let go of Sky I grabbed her and ran out. Even if he had been shot, it wasn’t enough to slow Arkady down, and he was soon chasing after us. We passed by Lepidus and Sloth in the hall, but as soon as they saw Arkady, they started running as well.

We didn’t even slow down when we got outside. Arkady came out after us, shooting the gun he’d taken from the proxy. The entire clip was emptied without hitting any of us, so he threw the gun, which hit me in the back of the head.

Ar: “Oh, of course, THAT’S what finally hits someone!”

Sloth had a car not far away, and we were racing to reach it. His other two proxies moved to intercept Arkady, but I didn’t see how that tuned out. It didn’t sound nice is all I know.

Working at a desk all day really doesn’t help with physical fitness, so I felt like I was dying before I was halfway to the car. And I could hear Arkady’s footsteps gaining on us….

Another car screeched out from an alley and flew by us. I looked back and saw it nearly hit Arkady, but he just managed to jump aside. Ahriman got out of the car, and started firing a pistol at Arkady, forcing him into cover.

Ah: “Get into the car!”

Lepidus, Sky, and I followed that order, while Sloth kept running for his car. Arkady broke cover when Ahriman ran out of bullets, but we already had the car running before he could reach us. Instead he started chasing after Sloth, who wasn’t fast enough to get to his car before Arkady reached him.

I looked out the back window and saw Arkady deck Sloth in the face, knocking him to the ground. Before he could keep attacking, Sloth held his keys out to Arkady. Arkady grabbed them, kicked Sloth in the face, then got into his car and started driving after us.

We had a lead, but it wasn’t very big. And I don’t care what Hollywood says, you can’t have a high speed chase for very long inside a city. There’s too many others cars in the way. Which meant that Arkady was closing that gap we had very, very quickly.

Ahriman was screaming orders into his phone for backup, although I wasn’t sure how much help more people would be in a car chase. Sky had huddled up into a ball, and was whispering, “Help me,” over and over. Then,

S: “He’s here.”

Fog poured in around our car from every direction, until we couldn’t see the anything more than a few feet around us. The sounds of the city vanished, leaving us in a bubble of silence. And then, out of the fog, the Boss appeared in front of us, dozens of tentacles growing out of his back.

We were too close to move out of the way, so I closed my eyes, expecting us to hit him. When I didn’t feel an impact, I slowly opened my eyes again. The fog was gone, we were in a different part of the city, and Arkady wasn’t behind us anymore. We took a few minutes for Ahriman to get his bearings, then he started to drive again.

With everything finally calming down, I asked Ahriman where we were going.

Ah: “Truth’s corporate HQ. The mayor’s called for ‘Decisive action against organized crime groups in our city.’ In other words, us. SWAT teams have been hitting all the safehouses that Arkady hasn’t already gotten. Therefore, Truth has called a general retreat to all surviving proxies. We’re to fortify at his tower, where we can negotiate from a position of strength.”

D: “Wasn’t my apartment supposed to be a position of strength?”

Ah: “…. Be quiet. We just need to make a few calls to Washington, move some money around, and everyone will be reminded of what happens to those who start getting aspirations above their station.” *His hands tightened on the wheel until his knuckles turned white.* “And once this is over, we will make them all pay for their insolence.”

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

This isn't looking good.

Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit.

Arkady made a comment on my last post about how he’s now decided to go after Sky in order to draw the Boss out, and suddenly our apartment has become the center of this whole conflict. And everyone who’s had a grudge against our organization is targeting us. Someone tried anonymously posting our address in reply to Arkady, but I managed to delete that comment. But since his email is public, that’s not really going to stop them from getting the word out. Someone even spray painted a big operator symbol on our door during the night, like a target over us. And things are getting even nastier for proxies in this city. A few days ago, one of Fracture’s teams vanished in the night. Two days later, their bodies were found strung up from the street lights. At first we thought Arkady was to blame, but his methods are usually to just kill his enemies as quickly and brutally as possible, then move on. These four proxies looked like they had been kept alive and beaten for hours before they were finally killed. Now I’m having to send out notifications to proxies to be wary of potential lynch mobs in any neighborhoods where the residents might have grudges against us or the Boss.

I’d hoped we would move to a different location once it became clear that this one had become compromised, but I guess that’s expecting too much out of Ahriman. He’s hoping that we can use this as a chance to prepare and fight Arkady in a position of strength. Except it seems that when he tried selling that idea upstairs, they weren’t very convinced. Probably because of how great things turned out last time we tried throwing all our resources at him.

So all we’ve got is the Jacksons guarding us. This is going to suck.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

It wasn’t Sky screaming that woke me up this morning, but her silence. I’ve gotten so used to that noise waking me up at the same time very day that the quiet was somehow even more alarming. I ran straight to her room, and saw her lying on her bed. When I asked if she was alright, she said yes, but refused to speak beyond that. Since it seemed trying to get anything else out of her was pointless, I went back to my room and started working.

A few hours later, Sky came into my room. Without a word, she walked around my desk, sat down in my lap, and tried curling up like a large cat.

D: “Sky, what are you doing?”

S: “Nothing. What are you doing?”

D: “I’m trying to write this email. I need to send it out to our drivers distributing supplies.”

S: “Why? They’re going to die.”

D: “I hope we can catch Arkady before he starts to kill our drivers as well….”

S: “No. We don’t. We’re all going to die.” *She started swatting at keys on my keyboard, creating strings of gibberish in the email.* “I’m going to die. You’re going to die. All of us are going to die.”

I didn’t know what to say to that. So I sat there and watched as she filled more of my email with random letters.

She had filled an entire page when Ahriman stormed in. He paused when he saw Sky, and seemed to take a moment to calm down before proceeding forward and slamming a huge binder on my desk.

A: “Sort through these. Now.”

*I cannot begin to stress how massive the binder was. It could have been used for weight lifting.*

D: “Are… these all casualties?”

A: “No. Worse.” *He brought out another binder, also large, but not quite as huge as the first.* “These are casualties. These,” *He slammed his hand on the first binder,* “are defections.”

*I flipped through it quickly. A lot of proxies had just run off when they didn’t think their superiors were looking. More of the gangs who were supposed to work for us were breaking away. I even saw a few police officers listed. Worst of all, that cult town I’d visited had driven out the proxy sent to collect tribute from them, and were ignoring all our attempts to get back into contact. Ahriman had begun ranting again, so I just got back to work.*

A: “I don’t know what’s worse, the cowards running like whipped dogs or the foolish vultures thinking they can start picking us apart! The police have begun arresting proxies! Right off the street! What the hell are we paying them for? Just because a few of us have been killed, they think they can turn on us with no consequence? We are facing one man! Just a single man with a few improvised weapons! He is nothing! He is a single pebble when compared to Father!”

*Sky suddenly sat up in my lap and tilted her head to the side.*

S: “Why do you call him Father?”

*The sudden change of subject caught Ahriman off guard, but I don’t think he was going to give up the chance to monologue to a willing audience. Soon he was talking again, this time with a hint of pride in his voice.*

A: “Because we are his children. He has chosen all of us to fulfill his greater plans. We are his instruments, and he provides us with guidance so that we may better serve him.”

I’m sure he would have gone on longer, but Sky started laughing at him. She fell off my lap and started rolling on the floor, laughing so hard that she was coughing and crying. Ahriman quickly fled the room, and I got on my knees to try and calm her down. She wrapped her arms around me, and kept laughing until her laughs turned into sobs.

S: “I don’t want to die! Why do we have to die?”

I held onto her until her crying stopped and she fell asleep. She’s on the couch now, still napping. Poor girl probably needs it more than the rest of us.

God I hope she doesn’t end up being right about this as well.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A night’s worth of fighting later, three proxies are dead and 12 are wounded.

Then as morning came, a safehouse on the complete opposite end of the city exploded.

We don’t know how or when he got past the police, but the video taken of the explosion show Arkady running from the scene. Though he did briefly stop to make some sort of gesture toward the camera that caused Lepidus to laugh when we watched the video.

L: “He’s biting his thumb at us. It’s very old, Shakespearean insult. I never thought I’d see someone do it off the stage.”

The reports coming in are still confused, but from what we can tell, none of our casualties were caused by Arkady. Most were from friendly fire, and a short firefight with some druggies in a crack house in the neighborhood.

This is starting to get too big for us to cover up. We just called in a massive police manhunt that ended in a building exploding. The only reason the lid hasn’t blown off the whole thing is the amount of money we’re throwing around, but I’m starting to wonder how long even that can last.

Monday, May 6, 2013

We found him.

Someone called the police about a man matching Arkady’s description, and we confirmed it by photo a few minutes later. The police have locked down the part of the city he’s hiding in, and have all the exits blocked off. We’ve sent in Fractures men to flush him out, and have every available combat ready proxy in the city ready to swing in and take him down.

It’s almost over.

Friday, May 3, 2013


Today is the first day I’ve left my room in what feels like forever. Unfortunately, it wasn’t because my workload has decreased. I heard that Sloth was meeting Ahriman at our safehouse, and I wanted to see what Fracture’s people look like, even if it means letting work pile up a little.

The apartment’s gotten really empty lately. With everyone out on patrol all the time, it’s almost as if we’ve gone back to just me, Sky, and Lepidus living here. Which has the benefit of me getting my room back, but I’d gotten used to the crowd. The constant quiet is a bit creepy.

Not that it stayed quiet long. Sloth arrived, with three other proxies behind him. Those proxies with him were weird. They didn’t say anything, and barely reacted to anything. A little like how Null used to act, but even more extreme. The moment Sky saw them, she got behind Lepidus and started hissing at them like a cat. That made Sloth jump a little, and he spent most of his time here trying to keep a safe distance from her.

Speaking of Sloth, he was a lot less… sloth… like?... than I’d expected. Reading about him had made me think he was going to be a big slow guy who climbed trees, but he’s surprisingly normal.

Ahriman arrived a few minutes later, and they started to talk, but when they saw me with my recorder, they stepped outside. Which just left the other three, standing still and staring at our wall. Sky had upgraded from hissing to growling at them, so Lepidus carefully guided her to another room to calm down. And since there was nothing else for me, I got back to work.