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Demon Intel Deciphering Codex [IC Let's Read of Horror Recognition Guide]

VoidDrifter

Registered User
Validated User
From: ChromeTooth@TheWolfsDen
To: Group
Subject: Trouble in Buena Vista

Spirits:
Yes, it definitely sounds like you've got spirits... more importantly, however, somebody's definitely pulling the strings. Animal spirits don't normally form groupings outside of their own particular types - it's not impossible, the Spirit World doesn't exactly adhere to logic, but it's extremely rare for, say, frog-spirits and snake-spirits to be willing to talk to each other. There's most likely an exterior force behind this, then. As to who it could be...

Mad Human Mystic: This is my kneejerk suspicion, because it's usually the case. This could be the most dangerous prospect, because you have no way of knowing what powers they have or why they're doing this. It could be some occult "scientist" using humans as labrats in spirit fusion techniques - maybe even trying to refine exorcism techniques - or it could be someone who was possessed themselves and is now just driven to "share the joy", or any of a thousand other reasons.

Fire-Touched: As I mentioned early on, spirits flock to the Fire-Touched for many reasons, but their willingness to assist spirits in Claiming human hosts is one of the foremost. Most likely those victims are going to end up being cannon fodder for a Pure pack. If that's the case, then there's a higher chance you'll also encounter plant-spirit, conceptual-spirit and elemental-spirit hosts.

The Swamp: This is the least likely suspect, in my opinion, because spirits of that magnitude are usually pretty indifferent to the local humans, so even if it could push a bunch of animal-spirits into taking human skinsuits, the issue is why it would bother. Has there been a lot of negative impact on the swamp recently?

As for your request with dealing with frog-guy and his Bans and Banes... this is a tough one to figure out from so far away, so please try and do some fact-finding on your own. If this guy only just got the boot, then the subtlety suggests a higher class of spirit, one closer to human intelligence, so that means that its bans and banes are going to be very distinct. Still, I can think of the following:

Bans - getting dry, the fangs/beaks of frog-eating animals native to the area, venom from local frog-predators, fire, boiling water, cold.

Banes - Must always reply if called to in the right way (usually the First Tongue - the Spirit Language), cannot resist boasting, harmed in some way if forced to be humble, slow to change mind, must always eat food if can see it, flees in terror at the sound of a frog-eating animal.

Now, as for what kinds of powers it might have... from the sound of it, the Claiming is complete, not yet anyway, so more physical powers like a tentacle-tongue, being able to swallow a person whole, tremendous leaps, squirting poison or acid, stuff like that, it shouldn't have much access to those, if any. It will, on the other hand, still have access to Numina - mystical powers, like seeing through the eyes of other frogs, or commanding plagues of frogs. It might have a croak that can crack bones or be able to induce a hunger so intense that you can't think straight. It depends a lot on just what kind of frog-spirit it is, so I can only reiterate: scout it out before you get involved, if at all possible.


Briar Wolves:
Unfortunately, we don't actually get involved with the Hedge that much. Those thorns don't do a lot of good for us, even though we technically don't have souls anymore. There's a theory amongst my Tribe that maybe the various Hobs descend at least partially from spirits that wandered into the Hedge and mutated from the Glamour, so maybe Briar Wolves are wolf-spirits, or fear-of-wolf-spirits like the Adarusharu.

Then again... I ran into one scarred, crazy werewolf with a real hate for changelings and he confided in me something. He claimed that Briar Wolves are what happens when someone tries to make a changeling out of a full-fledged Uratha, or perhaps even a wolfblood. I didn't take him seriously at the time... but, it makes you think, doesn't it?


Price of Power:
Bans are something we only get if we allow our Harmony to tilt out of whack towards the Spirit side of our nature. But, that's not to say that growing stronger doesn't also have its price to pay. Ironically, it's something we have in common with vampires; I asked one once why they hunt humans and not animals, and he confessed to me that as their blood "thickens" with age/power, forms of blood stop being nourishing. Animal blood goes off the menu pretty quick, but part of why their culture is so batshit insane is because, comparatively quickly, they hit a plateau where there's only one source of food left to them; other vampires. Then they need to go into torpor and let it thin out again, or find some way they can snack on other vampires despite A: they're no more resistant to blood addiction than humans are, and B: cannibalism in their culture carries a death penalty. Though, apparently, it's rumored that elders that strong can also learn to feed on "other monsters" as well.

Anyway, for werewolves, our diets go carnivorous, increasingly so. First, we can only get nourishment from meat. Then only raw meat will do the trick. After that, we can only really feed ourselves with meat from other carnivores, which is a right pain in the ass - have you ever tried to get bear or snake meat in America? And, personally, I refuse to eat dog. Too close to wolf, which makes it too close to cannibalism. Still, could be worse... I hear that, for the mightiest of all werewolves, meat just won't snuff it anymore. They need pure Essence. So they have to hunt spirits... humans... other Uratha...

Of course, they'd hunt anyway. The Wolf Must Hunt, I believe I've said? Well, the stronger an Uratha gets, the stronger that demand becomes. The great wolves, they basically have to hunt all the time, or else it starts driving them mad with the need to hunt.
 

ZiggyZapf

Sorcerer of Autumn
Validated User
From: Dingbat@FontsByThePound
To: Group
Subject: Field Research

Re: Food sources: I'm reminded of an old Magic card.

Our spirits: I'm leaning towards mad mystic, digging into the history of the group and its members. I'm not aware of any issues with the swamp that might fuel any sort of Gaia's Revenge thing. I'll keep an eye open for any Fire Speakers, just in case. I'll keep an eye on the members to see if they show peculiar aversions, compulsions, or the like. I spent some time looking up local species to get the food chain figured out, so I've got some snakes and birds in mind as potential anti-frog measures. Wouldn't surprise me if the group might have stumbled on some real spirit lore and tried it out without understanding the consequences. We've got a librarian hob nearby who always seems to know where rare books are moving. I'll have a talk with her.

Powers at a Price: I was big into fantasies involving getting magical powers when I was young. I always played spellcasters in roleplaying games and such. Now that I can actually go around calling myself a sorcerer (albeit to a narrow group), I can say getting superpowers was not a picnic. With great power comes great responsibility, and if you're not careful, great insanity. I've still got a penchant for self-modification: I spent the bulk of my Durance without a body, so having control over my form helps me feel like I have some control over the rest of my life. I can understand how someone would be driven by curiosity to explore potentially life-altering magic. These days, I have to be the guy who scares people away from dangerous stuff. Guess I'll be using that as a theme in my next video game. And since Halloween is coming, I could probably get some appropriate horror stories spread around. (Our haunted house this year has been a real scream.)

--Ziggy Zapf
 

flyboy254

Registered User
Validated User
From: JoeHillJr@UnitedForAll.com
To: ChromeTooth@TheWolfsDen
Subject: Proof

Okay, so I tried talking with the local crews. I nearly got shot, had to throw a few punches, and in one case comfort a widow. But I think I convinced enough people to at least try to let one, one werewolf pack into the city for at least two weeks. So here's the deal. You pick a pack on the East Coast, tell them to make contact with whoever they can in Philly, and tell them that if they want to show that they're supposed to be here, then they need to show the working people of the city exactly just how much good they're capable of doing.

------

From: JoeHillJr@UnitedForAll.com
To: Mailerdaemonic@Released.org
Subject: Fucking hell

Nice new email pal, what'd you do, find some clever wordplay with your latest deal?

I've been thinking about a few things, but the one I need to talk to you about is whether or not we're focusing on the right problems. The Sower, this idigan, what if there's something else we're missing in all this? The big players are involved in this one, the MIBs and the company idiots. What if this wasn't their way of tracking down potential "problems"?
 

Leliel

SJ Road Warrior
Validated User
From: Mailerdaemonic@Released.org
To: JoeHillJr@UnitedForAll.com
Re: I'll get back to you on that.

Honestly, at this point? I would not be surprised.

There's too many things gone wrong in concert-at some point, Occam's Razor suggests it isn't coincidence.

I have a lead on the Sower's identity though. I think there's more than one reason the current one appeared around Philly.

(Also, it was recommended that I get a new email by the more tech-savvy members of my Ring as part of burning the old bridges. I have no reason to disbelieve their urgings).

---------

normal_programming.pdf

Leaving aside our hobbies, I don't have much time for casual talk right now. Investigations and all that.

So, let us speak of Ten Photographs of Philadelphia-only, not this Earth's Philadelphia. We all hope.

Cover image wastes no time in informing us what kind of vaguely Lovecraftian pastiche is within, featuring a spiked, skeletal skyscraper made of greened brass, with chains extending from it-and a giant, living eye attached to it. You can't see it that well, but the eye isn't part of the building-it's some arachnid creature that's wrapped itself around the thing, dispassionately seizing up the camera intruding its territory.

Speaking of Lovecraftian photography, the first photograph of the ten the title refers to comes before the first true entry. Thankfully for me and my complete lack of interest or talent in stationary visible art, our primary narrator, Douglas O'Neil, wrote his own description and commentary next to each. As he notes, the location looks to be where the Liberty Bell is in Earth's Philadelphia, but it's been replaced by an open-air shrine to a grotesque, hermaphrodite fertility goddess. There's a black basalt ziggurat behind the goddess' statue, with short, mutated-or possibly just burned-men in ragged clothes paying their respects to their obese patron. The pyramid's polish shines in a far too bright for Philly sun, and according to O'Neil, there is something reflected in it. Something giant and winged, with many legs.

O'Neil's first commentary, a missive to someone named Janice is next. He reveals he got into this round of the Vigil by raw accident, driving a vampire off his latest prey and killing him by sheer force of luck. The undead's suit didn't dissolve with his body though, and so O'Neil decided to search it for anything useful. Besides a couple thousand bucks, he found the photos posted in the Guide. Next photo, he recognizes as his home of Fishtown, only sun-baked and bleached. A small crowd of heavily-burned people are walking at the unseen photographer, shoeless, blank white eyes. One of them seems to be shouting, or screaming at the viewer-from his expression, I can't tell if he's pained or angered. O'Neil comments that he thought they were fake at first-some grotesque artistry by a CGI-savvy Kindred. But O'Neil also notes that if they're fakes, they're extremely high-quality fakes-ones that require a higher budget and more than one associated with even elder vampires. He notes there's a theme of something even more terrible than the subject out of the view of the camera.

Next section is actually from none other than the Cheiron Group-or at least, someone who uses their very distinct typeface and professional manner. JLF (Janice?) tells her superior, HH, about the unfortunate return to the grave of one David Kitchen, and the "packet" was stolen by someone they didn't actually get a visual on. Obviously, HH is not at all pleased with this, and tells GTM to eliminate the witness if he saw the photos, preferably without examining the packet. The third photo is our cover-O'Neil says that that the green spider-tower is where City Hall would be in contemporary Philadelphia. The fourth photo is of Fairmont, with the shutters of the residential areas being made of the same brass as the spider-tower, and with something viscous leaking from under them. The focus isn't on them, but a small black obelisk placed where a street sign would be, with something perched on the top. O'Neil thinks it might be human feet rushing out of the camera view, but I see eyes-it looks more like a dark, shadowy bird glaring at the intruder to its territory to me. Almost like an owl.

More missives from Cheiron, informing the intended recipient that the Board of Directors themselves are nervous about the photos being linked to the Company. So much so that (as a handwritten note says), Cheiron non-disclosure agreements include a subsection that notes they apply beyond death-Kitchen was probably doomed even beyond his poor luck. O'Neil notes he's being followed by Cheiron agents, but he suspects they're being unsubtle on purpose-they want him to be silent, not to observe him. Next photo (believe me, this is less confusing in the file than it is typed), the runs of 62nd and Woodbrine (on a side note-O'Neil, if you are yet another uninvited guest, what foreground street sign?). In the rocky waste are a trio of pink, sausage-shaped creatures with no faces but toothless mouths, with the closest having a skirt of disturbingly human teats. Three ragged people are feeding from it, not that it seems to mind (given certain theories I've heard, I wonder if it was designed to be a food dispenser. Not bred, designed). There's a dissertation on interstitial, or alternative, terrain between this photo and the next. As the name suggests, interstitial terrain are spatial anomalies that regularly manifest between landmarks of a city. Sometimes they just confuse navigation. Other times, they lead to what some have theorized to be the dreams of the citizens' collective consciousness...including their nightmares. In photo six, something tenebrous and cephalopod reaches out of a rift next to the Penn Center, likely attempting to eat a humanoid that got too close.

Apparently, whatever interstitial terrain is seen in the photos can disgorge its residents into this reality-O'Neil is attacked by the blank-eyed burned people who attempt to drag him into their briefly-existent alleyway. Perhaps they wanted to take him to be one of the unfortunate prisoners in photo seven-JFK Stadium, still standing in the dark Philadelphia, converted into an almost meat-locker like depot for comatose humans, hanging from industrial cranes like cattle in a slaughterhouse. One of the closest, to me, looks like he's had his organs scooped out, though that may just be lighting. A Cheiron missive notes that if the photos are leaked, it may threaten the Board's "Primary Development Plan". Someone O'Neil knows recognizes a girl named Marcie in one of the photos-a girl who disappeared from the Earth we know. Photo eight, limbless white-eyes lacking the burns (in fact, they're otherwise quite cosmetic) hand nakedly over a wasteland near Franklin Mills Mall. In the distance, a hunched, hairy giant stalks through the hot wastes. O'Neil wakes up one day, and sees the eye-spider clinging to a mundane skyscraper, just for a minute or so.

Next is a letter from Marcie, and it's probably easier just to copy it:

Dear Mom,

I don’t know where I am anymore. I’ve written this on
the only piece of paper I can find.

This is a terrible place, Mom. They slice out people’s
minds with knives and put in new ones. They make
you worship…things. They make you do things. If you
don’t suckle from the Flesh-Cows or allow the Little
Children of the Eye to feed on you for a while, they
send you to the knife-racks, or they make you a Herm
and leave you to stand up in a field forever, blind
and lost and empty.

I’m scared, Mom. I wish I had never come to Philadelphia.
I wish I had never come here. Please, Mom. I don’t
like it here. I want to come home.

Marcie
After that cheerful diversion, the ninth photo is almost funny-it's an otherwise mundane vacation photo, in front of Independence Hall-now made of brass and meat.

Someone named Susan notes O'Neil has been missing for a while, and we see the final photograph. The Turnpike, with a pair of abandoned cars sitting in front of a black wall with arcane etchings. A woman stands aghast at giant fingers of grey-green tatters curling through a crack-each of which is as large as her. Perhaps the owner of those terrible claws is climbing over, or tearing the wall further apart. Perhaps it is just just resting. GTM sends a missive to HH, informing their superior that O'Neil took a wrong turn and is now somewhere in that hellish cityscape. They are sure the photos went with him-for his sake, I hope that is the truth. That gives hope that O'Neil found his way back out-or someone gave his case closure.

Analysis: There's little here about Wasteland Philadelphia, as I call it, that the dissertation on interstitial terrain didn't already say. I can say that I was not actually surprised-I actually came up with the idea for the Knights of the Clockwork Heart after I was briefly lost in Glasgow's own version of a nightmarish cityscape. I still have little idea what went on in there-imagine what would happen if Kafka co-wrote a book with Lovecraft after listening to Jung for days on end while reading a Frank Miller comic and you have a basic idea of just how surreal and terrifying it got.

What this says about Cheiron, though...that's more interesting.

I did mention I thought the Board is composed of the Temple's angels, yes? I'm still waffling back and forth on that. It's not beyond the Machine to make such a horrifying alternate dimension for its own purposes, and what I encountered at Glasgow didn't conflict with its obsession with information (the other Glasgow's university is dedicated to academic evaluation of every possible topic relating to mundane lives, which the Machine is often fascinated with). I do know three things though:

1) The Board's members are not human, esohuman, and likely not even from this planet/plane/time/whatever. Everyone who has seen them has reported flashing images of eldritch beings, awesome and terrible. They are likely immortal.

2) Cheiron's current form is only the latest iteration in a very old group that has been around since at least the Dark Ages-they are always a business of some kind, always use Thaumatech implants of monster parts, and they are always named after something related to Greek mythology.

3) Absolutely nothing they do, to my recollection, involves actually lying to their hunters about their agenda. As shown in their missives, they will do things without explanation and omit information, but they will be honest about omitting information and try to be as clear about their ultimate agenda as they can be to hunters of a certain pay grade.

It's that last item that really throws a wrench into any analysis of what the Board wants. They're manipulators, but their pawns are informed of their status and given as much recompense as possible. They have a sinister agenda, and yet none of their public medical products has such truly adverse effects that it is noticed by the occult world. They are run by the inhuman, and yet no motive of any higher up seems to be anything that a human completely ignorant of the shadow world could not have. They're not something that can be easily quantified either way. They're almost certainly from something akin to Wasteland Philadelphia, though-and one of my more prophetic knights thinks the eye-spider might be a member of their eldritch species. Hence my comment about the Flesh-Cows being designed-they could be an expression of whatever occult biotech is behind Thaumatech.

What the Primary Development Plan is, I have no idea. There's references to "colonization" in material mentioning it, but there's a lot of nuance in that term. The dominant theories are, if the Board are not angels, is either that they are alien conquerors who see Earth as the latest planet to strip-mine and reduce to a barren wasteland of alien gods and brainwashed slaves/products...or they're refugees who share more in common with true hunters than they do the truly inhuman monsters who walk the world, seeking to save this one and hopefully liberate theirs. There is something even more disturbing about the latter theory, as it implies whatever ruined Wasteland Philadelphia is even more awful than they are, and it means they're Great Old Ones who also happen to be idealistic zealots. The selfish are ruthless, but the selfless build entire moral systems around their darker deeds.

This also raises the issue that the Sower may be a pawn of theirs in the infiltration. Perhaps they figured out the photographs were in the Guide I'm posting online, and they've pulled out all the stops in stemming the leaked tide by any means necessary. More unlikely (and I am thankful that this is unlikely given previous behavior), perhaps they know, but they have nothing to do with our problems. Rather, they are watching, impassively, seizing up intruders into their territory.

Watching, and waiting.

Next time, we cut back to Rafferty one final time as he pursues some Thing From the Deep.
 
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VoidDrifter

Registered User
Validated User
From: ChromeTooth@TheWolfsDen
To: JoeHillJr@UnitedForAll.com
Subject: Deal

Alright. I've used the connections I have, called in a lot of favors, made some promises, and I think I got a pack interested. Carefully screened; mixed Tribes, mixed Auspices, plenty of experience with dealing with nasties. This is the pack that took down Johnny Shadow, a Pure turned serial killer. Their alpha's an Iron Wolf, ex-cop, blue-collar background, and they're used to working with humans. Morever, they've been successful enough that they've grown to the point they need to split anyway, so they're going to send wolves who are actively interested in putting down roots and making a home. They've been given clear instructions about the local bad blood and the need to smack down any Forsaken more interested in perpetuating vendetta than doing their job.

Can't promise they'll succeed, but they're a stubborn bunch; they'll give it their all anyway, but they got a real hate-on for Pure, so they'll definitely be committed.

Incidentally, have you heard anything about the MiBs in your area messing with the spirit world? I've been trying to dig up some more dirt, but between rebuilding my systems after the attack, prepping my defenses and "talent scouting", not to mention my day and night jobs, I haven't had the time.

-----
From: ChromeTooth@TheWolfsDen
To: Group
Subject: Windows and the things revealed

Okay, this is weird, even for me, and I travel in and out of the spirit-world all the time.

I'll start with the obvious; the Spirit World is full of what we call "Places-That-Aren't". These are "shadow-landscapes" formed by the local spiritual impact of humanity. If people think or feel about things in a certain way, it impacts the spirit world's reflection of that. Places that people feel really strongly about, for example, will usually be much larger and grander than their physical reflection in the real world - the White House in the Shadow is absolutely enormous, closer to some sort of videogame castle, because people think about it so much. Likewise, places that don't exist in the real world can come to exist in the spirit world as a result of this.

Like, say there's a long-running legend about some creepy old mansion or insane asylum on a backroad or an island where you live. Even if such a place never existed in reality as humans define it, the constant urban legends mean that if you could get into the spirit-world, you would find that very same location where the stories "say" it should be.

Incidentally, yes, this does make our jobs harder. Even if there never was a mad scientist creating, say, Melon Heads or Napa Rebobs, the urban legends can cause their "homes" to manifest in the spirit world and fear-spirits to latch onto those tales for basis.

Anyway... I don't quite think this is the case here, because there's no "reason" behind it. The Shadow is not a happy place by any means, and it can get pretty twisted-looking, but usually there's some kind of internal logic based on how the real world perceives an area. I can't think of any reason why the public perception of the Independence Hall would cause it to be made of meat and brass in the Shadow. Additionally, it's not that easy for humans to just slip into the spirit world under their own power, and it certainly doesn't have anything remotely resembling a population of "native humans".

So... yes, from Sir Knight's commentary, that this represents some other horrible dimension or world seems the most likely. Between the Shadow, Arcadia, the Underworld that the sin-eaters talk about poking around in, and all the messed up shit the mages are dealing with, it's depressingly logical that these represent glimpses into some other world. Or perhaps even more than one!

As for Cheiron being run by aliens or whatever they are... again, depressingly logical. Mixing and matching anatomies like that is weird even in the circles I run in - we can grow limbs back, but even we have troubles just sewing on a new one and having it work. I mean, yeah, not every big company or political group is being run by we "esohumans" - we have other shit to do with our lives - but, that freaky-ass transplant tech of theirs is clearly not coming from anything humans are capable of.
 

ZiggyZapf

Sorcerer of Autumn
Validated User
From: Dingbat@FontsByThePound
To: Group
Subject: Ten Photos

My curiosity was certainly piqued by the photos earlier. "Lovecraftian" is an apt description of this strange realm. I haven't figured out what it could be.

Arcadia?: Highly doubtful. While there are some Gentry who've taken a liking to the cosmic horror genre, I doubt this is an Arcadian realm. I doubt one would go through the effort to create twisted versions of recognizable Philadelphia landmarks. Arcadia is also a place of both extremes: Beauty and horror get mixed together liberally. I don't see much in the way of beauty. Getting a camera to function there would also be an issue.

The Hedge?: Nope. Thorns don't really dominate the area, though Marcie mentions "knife racks" and cutting out people's mind with knives. While this place is nightmarish, it seems to lack the "humanity" of mortal dreams. I'm not sure how to explain it. Hobgoblins, while strange, still have some familiar aspects and often quasi-rational motives. Marcie's letter has some similarity to Not-Emma's letter from the Hedge in the deep confusion she experiences. Again, mortal technology tends to become unreliable deep in the Hedge, though with mortal world landmarks, this wouldn't actually be that deep if it was the Hedge.

This feels more "out of context problem" than the fae world normally does. There are monsters. Someone's controlling this place, putting naked humans and corpses on display, and making the live ones drink monster milk. It's strange, ghastly, and if we were to fight the realm, we'd probably spend a lot of effort just trying to understand what we're up against and why it's doing this weird, disturbing stuff. There aren't old storybook tropes we can use to make sense out of it.

Underworld domain?: Maybe. From what I've gathered, stuff can get pretty weird and grim down there, and so can the Old Laws governing individual domains. Marcie's confusion stands out because she seems to be complaining primarily about how unpleasant the place and its rules are, but not the sheer strangeness. In many cases, the dead aren't aware that they're dead, or that they're in the Underworld, rather than the world of the living. Notably, though, many of the Old Laws I've read about in the Underworld come with some form of temptation to encourage you to break them.

Twisted Shadow?: Doesn't seem likely to me, and less so after our Uratha associate weighed in. The grim wasteland feel does make me wonder if this is some twisted entropic reflection in the spirit world, contaminated by that Wound. That would raise the question: What are these creatures the spirits of?

Lower Depth?: I suppose the relevant question is, what Arcana is missing from this realm? Mind? Was Marcie in the process of losing her mind, fated to become one of the "zombies" or a decorative cadaver? If the place doesn't have Mind, how is there a "they" to impose control over the human victims?

The Abyss: If it's a place that's home to impossibilities and deviates from every law of reality, the functioning camera once again becomes an issue.

So, yeah, I don't know what to make of this.

--Ziggy Zapf
 

flyboy254

Registered User
Validated User
From: JoeHillJr@UnitedForAll.com
To: Group
Subject: Ten

Well, let's run down one at a time.

1: Okay, I get how this is freaky, but I don't see anything reflected anywhere.

2: Fucking what the fuck is this?

3: Again, where are these details? It looks like the eye is a part of the building, not a separate entity.

4: Again, where are these details? More importantly, what the hell is that thing? I mean, is this where the strix came from maybe?

5: Okay, call me crazy, what if those..."flesh-cows" are a public service? You're all saying this world is completely and utterly fucked right? Even in the guide it says it's utterly fucked, what if these things are the only reliable source of food for these people anymore?

6: Okay, this actually reminds me of something that I saw when Network Zero first got started. What if this thing isn't trying to grab that person? What if it's getting ready to take-off?

7: Fucking-A, JFK stadium? I used to catch so many games...Jesus, what the fuck is going on in this place? Why are these people here in the first place?

8: ...Okay, well then, that's pretty much the current state of Franklin Mills Mall right now anyway. But I just...Christ, what the hell? Are these people being used for food? Some kind of resource? An example to trouble makers? And how the fuck did he know that was Marcie? I mean Jesus, what the hell did he or she or both of them do to make her body that memorable to him?

9: I guess they still have a tourism industry? Hooray?

10: Fuck.

Interstatial Terrain: Okay, this might explain all the shit I've heard about people just vanishing just by walking down an alley and shit, do you think this stuff might extend to, well, everywhere?

Observation: Okay, so again, MIBs being MIBs. But what did that last note mean by counterparts? I mean, is the company working by sides of this fence? Or was the company playing against the government against these guys from wherever the fuck this other Philly is?

Doug: Guy probably wasn't going crazy. You see it with fairy hunters, they stay in long enough they start being able to see fairies wherever they walk. So maybe these pictures somehow, maybe, kinda got Doug able to see all this? Problem is always when they can't tell the two sides apart anymore. That's when they really go crazy. But here's where my main points are.

The Company: So okay, yeah, the Company men are crazy fuckers. But they're not the Inquisition in terms of fervor, or the MIBs in terms of being full-on American heroes. They're complete mercenaries, totally obsessed with grabbing monsters and bringing them back to do this shit to them. I'm not gonna lie either, my crew and I have given them a few leeches and cryptids from time to time when we needed some extra cash. As long as you just give'em the thing, they're good for giving you the cash up-front.

Now this "Primary Development Plan" shit, I've only heard rumors about a plan to make them the number 1 conspiracy out there. Some kind of trick that'll let'em bring in dozens on dozens of monsters a night if they want. Nothing about any kind of colonization or shit like that. But then that's the other thing. There's been rumors about them and their board of directors for a loooooong time. So I've heard everything from "SATANISTS" to "Rothschilds" to whatever fucking pop-conspiracy junk is the big thing that week. It's hard to take a lot of that seriously. Now if these "guys" are from this world, and you're saying that maybe they're devoted hunters too, then I'm wondering if there's a problem here. I mean, for fuck's sake, look at what they might be coming from. But two things did stand out. One, the thing about the NDAs extending past death? You're telling me ghosts or reanimated company hunters can't talk? Two, that crack in the Turnpike in picture 10. What if, and I might sound crazy for saying this, what if that barrier is their world, and our world?

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From: JoeHillJr@UnitedForAll.com
To: ChromeTooth@TheWolfsDen
Subject: Vikings

Not a word honestly. The big players always have their big plans and massive ideas, so maybe they do have something? I don't have the kind of favors to call in about this shit though, not by a long shot. Sorry.

---------------

PETER: How the fuck do they know?

JUNIOR: I don't fucking know, he keeps saying something about "data-spiders", sounds like some kind of spirit shit, you'll want to purge your system right now if you can.

PETER: Well what else do you have?

JUNIOR: Questions.

PETER: Don't go there-

JUNIOR: You fuckers are gonna set off some kind of nuke! I think as a taxpayer I'm well within my rights to ask fucking questions.

PETER: As a vigilante you're breaking the law and could be jailed for dozens of criminal felonies.

JUNIOR: I fucking saved your ass, what the fuck are you vikings thinking? What if something goes wrong? What if people who aren't monsters die?

*Silence for four seconds*

JUNIOR: You don't fucking know what'll happen do you?

PETER: That's not-

JUNIOR: Jesus fucking Christ, you can't let'em do this!

PETER: It's not that simple.

JUNIOR: Bullshit it isn't!

PETER: We could wipe out every werewolf in five miles, every dangerous spirit in five miles, you're saying you wouldn't take that shot? After everything this city has had to fucking deal with?

JUNIOR: It's too dangerous!

PETER: And your little idea with Gunnarsen isn't?

JUNIOR: How-

PETER: We're the government, it's our job to know.

*Four seconds of silence*

PETER: I can give you time to get whatever you think might work rolling. Show us something we can use, something that'll prove that this thing we don't have coming isn't worth it if we do have it, understand? Now get the fuck off this line, there's too many holes in the fence right now as is.
NOTE: Agent █████ considered non-compromised. Subject JUNIOR now possible issue. Recommend upgrade of observation status from MODERATE to HIGH.
 

ZiggyZapf

Sorcerer of Autumn
Validated User
From: Dingbat@FontsByThePound
To: Group
Subject: Perception

In the missives, the ones told to retrieve the package of photos were told not to look at the contents. Given that this entry ends with a disappearance, I was inclined to think simply viewing the photos made one susceptible to getting lost in that realm. I suspect the images we have of the photos were "sanitized" in some manner, which would explain why there are details described that we can't see. Had me worried for a while that I'd bump into zombies or get lost in Giger Alley. Would have been nice to have a warning at the start, either way.

That said, Mr. Hill's suspicions about Doug being able to see both realms has a certain resonance with what Changelings see of the world. Too much emotional turmoil, and everything starts blurring together. Ensorcelled mortals seem to have better filtering, but sometimes they wind up with the same issues we do. It's sometimes misdiagnosed as schizophrenia or other disorders, but don't let that fool you into thinking all mentally ill people have magical insight.

"Interstitial Terrain": The phrase is new to me, but the idea certainly isn't. The Hedge does its own share of whisking people away, and aside from being those woods you're not supposed to go into, the Hedge is also a reflection of the wrong side of towns. There are some pretty hobs who will show a suggestible mortal a good time and then they wake up without their kidneys.

Organ replacement for fun and profit: I don't know how Cheiron does it, but fae have a comparatively easier time than modern science, as you've read in The Market. Some Gentry and hobs who go so far as to keep their hearts in safe places outside their bodies, kind of like Koschei with his soul, and that can include inside other beings. Changelings who are so inclined generally wind up buying parts at the Goblin Market or going on quests in the Hedge for an appropriate quarry. Eyes are a favorite, as well as a cause for suspicion and paranoia: Sometimes the original owner can still see through them.

--Ziggy Zapf
 

Leliel

SJ Road Warrior
Validated User
my_lord_i_can_see.pdf

So, you didn't see those either, Mr. Hill? Thank God, thought my vision was going there for a second. Too many head blows from dirty fighters. Not that it's permanent, it's just you have to pull a lot of charm to convince someone to part ways with sight.

Mr. Zapf brings up a good idea-perhaps these aren't the actual pictures, but copies of them. Deliberately imperfect ones-touched up just enough to the point where they aren't faithful enough to render a reader of the Guide vulnerable to being drawn into Wasteland Philadelphia. In effect, knowing of the place without truly knowing it, a loophole a Tempter would be proud of. I'd still advise bringing sunscreen if visiting the city if you've read the Guide-even if the safety sabotage works just as intended, we still know enough to the point where I suspect we are on the periphery of the victims of Wasteland Philadelphia.
 

Leliel

SJ Road Warrior
Validated User
Voice Log:

Sir Night: Check it again.

The Adjutant of Identity: There-is-no-margin-of-error-the-name-is-valid.

SN: No, no, I know the Union, they aren't the kind of people who go mad like this-

TAI: There-is-no-margin-of error. Even-if-I-could-disobey-the-program-I-would-not-lie-there-is-no-point-in-preventing-removal-of-rogue-elements-that-operate-on-human-emotion-alone.

SN: You..I..but...

SN: ....

SN: ...How am I supposed to tell him?

-----

From: Mailerdaemonic@Released.org
To: JoeHillJr@UnitedForAll.com
Re: Before reading the next pdf, you may want to sit down.

I've found out the Sower's name and past.

For what it's worth, I'm sorry.

-------

prime_suspect.pdf

If you can stand their nosiness, everyone should know at least one mage. That's a pretty big if, and I'm lucky enough to know a cabal completely uninterested in techne (merging mundane sciences with mysticism), but it's definitely something to keep in mind.

It was Polydegmon's idea-we were looking the Sower as a serial killer alone, and trying to track him through whatever traces his ghostly victims left on him. However, he is also a farmer-which is to say, he's covered in dirt a great deal of the time. My friend theorized that, beyond the legendary Fields Beyond, he may have a trace of his original home's soil carried with him, and with the proper application of Matter magic, it's possible to tell how old a particular sample of earth is. So, after finding one of his old hunting grounds, and narrowly avoiding him (he's strong and smart, but he's slow and can't enter a dwelling without the Sator Square), we discovered that the oldest dirt belongs to the Philadelphia region. Narrowing our search, we discovered a retired hunter of the Union who goes by the moniker "the Grocer". Seemed like a good sort, if a tad understandably prejudiced. More importantly, we discovered he's missing a son-and receives a Sator Square the 13th of every month.

The Sower does not wear gloves. Through some application of stealth, we were able to dust one of the Sator Squares for prints, and his own trace he left behind on a window that I decided to take with me just in case. It's a 95% match on both thumb and middle finger. One of Polydegmon's cabal, a specialist in Space magics, then confirmed it by using the name of the Grocer's son as the focus of a spell made to locate the Sower-and both he, Polydegmon, and a contact of mine that I trust more than either mage confirmed it, the name qualifies as a sympathetic one. His birth name, or something he changed it to and now thinks of himself as.

Based on all available evidence, the Sower's name is Geno Carcione.
 
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