Wednesday, April 25, 2012

(Fine. Here's what I put away. It's not so bad to think about it now. -Nick)

Nick has tried to write this story many times. Started to many times. Broke down and quit many times, swearing to try again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day.

I can't watch anymore. So I'm writing it for him.

Day 19. 11pm. The first time I got to meet Nick in person, and Green Man too. The three of us got together at Nick's apartment. Nothing special, to an outside eye, just sitting there. But it was actually a lot more than that.

The Presence was corrupted and out of control, and had been for the past 6 years. Green Man had finally agreed to kill Her.

But... this sort of thing is complicated, especially when working astrally. Nick has tried to put Her out of Her misery many times before, but he's never quite been able to accomplish it. Part of it was that he always held back, no matter how badly he wanted both their suffering to end. Part of it was that, even if did manage to somehow nullify the Presence, they were connected so intimately that his memories of Her, his doubt that She would ever truly leave his life, always somehow brought Her back to him, and the torment would start all over again.

Green Man was to counter that first weakness. I was to counter the second. My job was... to watch, basically. To be objective, outside confirmation of the Presence's death.

I wound up doing a bit more than that, but that comes later.
Nick has mentioned before that Green Man has some kind of impenetrable armor around him, armor that stayed with him even when he chose to give up this whole astral business. So he would be basically invincible for the first 5 or 6 minutes of the fight. Green Man was also, for a myriad of reasons, invulnerable to the Presence's illusions, illusions She used to tap-dance all over Nick's mind and heart for far too long. We took every precaution to give Green Man every conceivable advantage possible.

I asked Green Man if he was really going to kill Her.

Green Man said, "Yes. I am."

Nick said at the same time, "At this point, I don't have a life. I'm basically defending myself from Her horseshit about twelve hours a day, non-stop, for the past six years. Six years in hell. I can't go on like this, Val, not if Stick Man's gonna be gunning for me too."

I instantly felt bad for even asking, because it wasn't as though absolutely every other recourse short of nuclear weapons and hard drugs hadn't been tried dozens of times over. Nick loved Her. He still does. He wouldn't ask this of us lightly.

So we went to work.

The first thing I remember was a lot of explosions. Both Nick and Green Man insisted that I stay quite far away until the dust settled - near enough that they were still within my sight, but far enough that it would be more trouble than it was worth for Her to come after me instead. So I couldn't see a lot of the details of the fight, but I know it was enormous.

In an attempt to better understand what was going on, I tried to extend my senses towards the fight. I remember seeing/feeling a small, intense patch of pale light for Nick, and a smooth sort of blank spot for Green Man - or rather, Green Man's armor - and when I found the Presence...

There was a jerking sensation in the pit of my stomach, that same feeling of panicked disorientation you get when you expect your next step to be a solid one, only to find that the ground beneath your feet is gone.

It was a complete accident. I just... fell. I fell, and fell, and kept falling until "falling" was no longer a sensation that had any meaning. Everything was a dark gray swamp that pressed against me from all sides, made of nothing bug pure corruption. But no matter how much it all pushed, it was nothing but empty, empty, empty. Scorched out and hollow, with nothing but ravenous emptiness left behind.

It's a sensation I'm familiar with, now.

But then, for a few moments, there wasn't nothing. Inside all of the nothing, floating right up next to me, was a tiny white spark. And the spark was a child. And the child just looked at me sadly. She kept saying, "You should go." Nothing but those three words.

I tried asking who she was. But there was no answer.

You should go.

I tried to take her hand. But she wasn't Real.

You should go.

I tried to convince her to get out of this place. The corruption would destroy her.


Just... You should go.

I was becoming increasingly aware of the danger I was in, staying there. The entire time, the area shook as though it were rocked with blow after blow. The empty pushed in at me on all sides too, trying to make me implode and become as hollow as it.

But I refused to leave. I couldn't just abandon her there, no matter what she was.

"You should go," she said.

And then... nothing but intense, astonishing regret.

The spark vanished. Just... blew away like dust.

And then I was back. Not just back to watching, but back to myself. The fight was over, and Green Man and Nick were both looking at me expectantly.

I drew my knees up to my chest to hide the shaking. In a halting voice, I tried to explain what happened, and I think I got most of it across.

Naturally, Nick's first reaction was to apologize over and over.

Green Man was a bit more practical. He asked me questions until he had a basic idea of what happened and why it happened.

"The method I used was directly linked to, essentially, a grounding. Anti-magick, or a realer-than-real spot." Green Man shook his head. He looked exhausted, but not as utterly drained as Nick. "Couldn't touch Her any other way," he said. "Had to kill Her magic before I could kill Her."

I said, "I still don't understand how that explains it. I thought She was supposed to be amazing. How did I get inside Her?"

Green Man looked at me. "At the end, She had no defenses whatsoever."


Nick put his head in his hands, and his voice was ragged. "I'm sorry. I didn't think trying to see could get you hurt. I'm really, really, really sorry."

I said, "I'm not hurt. Just... stunned, I guess. I didn't know I could do that."

Nick paused for a long time. "I remember right before it all started," he said. "Six years ago... She begged me to kill Her. I couldn't do it."

"She wanted to spare you all of this, Nick," I said. "She knew where it was going."

His hands clenched into fists. "She was alive. She had a full life ahead, she'd gotten Her revenge. I just don't understand!"

"She was completely empty inside," I said. "Utterly hollowed. There was nothing left but that tiny spark, and... if it's any consolation, that spark was fulled with regret."

Green Man piped up then. "I have a theory that puts this all in a positive light. I mean, if She isn't actually a human entity in entirety, She's gone for good. However, if She does have a physical body somewhere, She may simply end up being deeply rooted in the mundane. Stuck there, so to speak. And given that's how I spend most of my time these days, it's not an altogether horrible--"

Nick growled. "[Green Man]. Just because you can't stand the feeling of connecting to anything doesn't mean everyone does. You scare me sometimes. Not to mention that, you know what would have been really easy? If you had actually tried to help me SIX YEARS AGO."

Green Man didn't bat an eye. "The entire point of my training these days is about being connected--"

"You have this thing where you'll notice eventualities," Nick interrupted, "and then hide from them. I think it'll be easier if you don't do that in the future."

"If it hadn't been now," Green Man said calmly, "I wouldn't have had the tools to do it at all."

This was clearly an argument the two of them have had far too many times.

I said, softly, "I... connect to everything, whether I want to or not. And I don't not want to, even to Her. Even now."

Finally, Nick looked away. "Fuck you for being right," he muttered. "Fuck you, and fuck Fate for fucking us all for six years..."
Green Man rolled his eyes. "There are other ways of being connected than astrally, and if She's a real human, She'll just have to explore them."

Nick ignored him. "Val, we both have the same feelings when it comes to being connected. I've spent 6 years being blinded, struck with illusions, and generally shoved through the cosmic equivalent of a garbage disposal... I'm not trying to argue anything, really. I just... really needed someone other than me who can sense this, to be sure that it's finally over."

Part of what I do is knowing when words are meaningless. Any way you put it, Nick would be, and still is, a long time in recovering from an ordeal like this. There was nothing I could say to him that he hadn't already told himself a hundred times over, and wouldn't tell himself a hundred times again, and still wouldn't be able to convince himself entirely that he had done the right thing.

I stood up. And I hugged him.

"It's over," I promised.

And it was over. Mostly.

But... you know that feeling when you just feel compelled to do something? Actually... I'm sure most of you reading this don't know that feeling, but people like me, Nick, and Ellen feel it quite often. This principle had slipped my mind at the time, but when you meet someone on that deep of a level, virtually the level of their innermost soul... it leaves a mark.

That night when I got home - over a year ago today, back before I was so fearful of outside influences, but no less susceptible to them - I was drawn outside, to the enormous maple tree in the center of my backyard. I didn't tell Nick or Green Man, but... the shadows of nothingness clung like cobwebs, and I needed to get them off.

I don't actually remember much of what happened next. It might be for the best. But when we met, the spark and I, She left a... an imprint, I guess. A template of Herself, Her real self, burried deep in my subconscious. I didn't even recognize or comprehend the ritual I found myself performing, but whatever it was, it was powerful. Powerful enough to attract the attention of dozens of entities all around the area, powerful enough to let me recognize them for what they were.

Powerful enough to hide my house from the gaze of the malignant? I don't know.

What I do know is, I saw her again. The spark, the little girl. Only in much, much clearer detail. She had short blonde hair that was tied partially up on one side, a white shirt underneath a blue dress with a lace hem and a little black string tied above her waist. She was very young, no older than twelve. And she was smiling.

She was smiling.

I was suddenly aware that this little girl's name was Stacia, just like I was suddenly aware of exactly what I had to do with the imprint the Presence left on me.

With more skill than I thought I posessed (skill that probably wasn't actually mine, if I'm honest with myself), I took the template and hid it in a special pocket of space, a sort of astral vault. Then I wove the energy around the template itself to protect and dispell, and to eventually draw back when the time was right.

See, it was then that I fully understood what Green Man accomplished hours earlier. What he was able to do with raw power that Nick couldn't do with skill. In destroying the Prence's body, he had violently divorced Her inner self from the corruption that had twisted Her, mind and heart, and completely taken Her over. Because I had "fallen in" the way I did, an imprint of Her latched onto me in the moment of Her death, and Her soul scattered to the stars to purify from the distortion it had undergone. When it was healed, She would be drawn back to the template and be born anew.

Stacia promised me this, and I believe Her.

So then there was only one thing left to do.

The bad news was, Nick, Green Man, and I had to return to the site of the fight and annihilate the corruption that was left behind when She died.

The good news was, this was actually the easiest part of the whole ordeal.

It was Day 18 on Nick's "Days Remaining" calender. We three went back to the same place as before, and the field of corruption was enormous. From the ground, it went as far as the eye could see. From above, it had boundaries, but they weren't fixed. If it had been on this plane, it would have been the size of four city blocks or more. It was dense. It was dark. It was moving.

Worst of all, it was watching. It could see us there, and that's more than can be said for most sentient entities. This thing... I don't know what it was, and hopefully I'll never know.

Nick just stared right back. "I remember the darkness," he said softly. "Whoever they were, they took Her, twisted Her, and let Her loose on the world. She deserved better. No one deserved the life She had."

I found it sad that he didn't qualify that no one deserved the life he had either.

Nick scowled and said, "When in doubt, nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

And that's exactly what he did.

And by the time he was finished, with more anger than emotion than I thought (at the time) was possible from him... we were, in fact, sure. Beyond a shadow of a doubt.

That was the end of it. Forever.

I told Nick afterward what I had done in my backyard the night before. About the little girl named Stacia, with her blue dress and her smiling face. About the promise that the Presence would be back someday, though he might not recognize Her when he saw Her. He took it... better than I thought he would. I think it helped that he finally had a target to blame for the past 6 years, one he could go all out against.

He told me not to tell him where the template was hidden, so he couldn't inadvertantly bring Her back before She was ready. I said okay, and gave him another hug.

After a long, uncomfortable minute, he hugged me back, and said, "Thank you."

So that's it. Now you know. Now Nick can get on with what he has to do in relative peace.

There are still a few more things that I have to do, though.

Keep an eye out for me. Remember who I am in the times when I can't. It helps more than you comprehend.

~Hakurei Ryuu

We just got hacked by Hakurei Ryuu

Nick's pissed.

Hakurei Ryuu got into the blog somehow, and left a post about the night The Presence died.

He just got rid of the post and couldn't look at the computer. He's throwing punches and doing a training routine. And crying.

I know the look. He really wants to break the world right now. It can't be a good memory for him. Or maybe it's that Ryuu just threw up his personal garbage for everyone to see. He doesn't want to talk, so I won't ask.

It doesn't help that we found out that the New Redlight may have Fitzgerald's body, but absolutely nothing of his mind remains. Kind of terrifying. Nick gave a little spiel about "he didn't turn his into a synch and lock it away in his soul, he was overwhelmed by it and became the beast..."

That needs explanation. I'm not qualified to give it. I'm just one person with no extra bits, damn it.

Anyways, he doesn't want anybody to see that post I guess?

I'm really not sure what to do right now. Or whether or not I care. "The Presence" was a fucking bitch, and she deserved what she got coming to her. Damned if I can't understand why he cares so damn much.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I don't really know what to do

Nick apologized pretty heavily about the other day. He said a lot about how he was an insensitive prick. We're on speaking terms again.

He's been so lifeless since we found that building and that cage. I'm worried.

So! People trapped in this mess, lets recap: you have a new "Redlight". This is apparently a scary thing. He's putting together a new "network" like the one Nick destroyed a while back. A lot of good people are dying. There's a lot of dirty shit happening to you people.

It doesn't help that we've spent the last few months going around and finding old friends of his for a traditional suicide mission.

He's not sleeping. He doesn't want to do anything. Ennui is NOT effective for his combat training. I need him upright and operating. He has to go out there, and cause the proper kind of mayhem that we all know him for.

I need IDEAS people. How do I get his sorry ass motivated?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An Ellen Moment -/|\-

Ellen and I were getting dinner earlier. I had decided it was time to have a discussion.

"Ellen, what the hell is wrong with you?"

That caught her attention. I wasn't too happy about some of the things she's done as of late. I was pretty sure she knew what was coming next.

Ellen shrugged.

"Why, whatever do you mean?"

I said, "Lets see, called out an entire blog's readership because they didn't strongly advocate that someone get an abortion?"

"Well gee, she decides to hold onto her rapist's baby while being chased by the embodiment of a fear that likes to eat children? Seems logical, doesn't it?"

She was giving me a nasty little smirk. I had no response, I was too busy choking on my drink.

Ellen snapped, "Count the months. Do the fucking math!"

A few facts of the story clicked into place. I cringed instinctively. 

There's a question of sincerity at moments like these. Up until this point, I've told you all the truth as far as I could understand it. You've probably wondered: "Why does Nick compulsively write about all of these horrible things whenever he can?" For me, it's a penance. When I die, I want people to know exactly why I've made the decisions I've made. For Ellen, it's because Time Lord has a figurative gun pointed at her head.

I don't know what Maiden's story is.

Either way, Ellen gave me permission to talk about this little fracas. Normally, I wouldn't post any of this. After all, the next thing that popped out of my mouth was:

"So. When did you have your abortion?"

Ellen twitched.

I said, "I read what you said to her. I know you."

For better or for worse, having spent a few years trying to kill each other off-and-on has given us insight into each others personalities.

Ellen grunted, "2008. Human man, demon spirit, kind of like me. The negative energies were comforting, and he was nice. Turned out to be a vicious bastard in contact with the downstairs who wanted to create the next generation of soldiers to try again. After I missed my period, he gave me a spiel about how it was foretold, and how I would lead a revolution."

We were quiet for a minute or so.

I said, "Must have been one hell of a charmer."

"I was done with revolutions, I told him no. Then he tried to tell me we were doing it anyway. You know Nick? I was a legendary, ruthless warrior from a warrior race. Suddenly, I've got two breasts and people think they can push me around. Somehow, I'm less effective because I bleed once a month? Fucker."

I just stared. It couldn't be that simple. How was she so calm?

Then she said, "Told me it was the greater good. Suddenly my dream guy has a gun and a thing for handcuffs."

I could feel my heart beating. What did he do to her? What happened?

She said ,"I played along for about five minutes, took his gun, shot him, made the corpse unidentifiable and destroyed it", she paused briefly to glare at the table, "Then I had an abortion, cried myself to sleep, and spent the next week or so at the bottom of a whiskey bottle."

I relaxed a little.

Ellen said, "He talked about how they'd already warped and twisted it inside me. How it would be the perfect little warrior. How I should be honored. They went inside me Nick, I was supposed to be the finest warrior, I was supposed to be their champion...I was a man then, why can't I just be a man now? Suddenly I have a womb, and it changes everything."

I just stared.

Ellen said, "You were a woman up there. How did that affect you?"

We were quiet for a little bit.

Then I told the truth: "I don't know. My memories conflict. I was a man. I really was. And here my astral not that. I'm starting to get other memories, from a different life. It's confusing."

I have started getting other memories. I don't want to talk about it yet.

Back in the discussion we were having, Ellen nodded.

"We need to look into that. This could be bad."


She continued, "After all of that happened to me, I ended up meeting Detective (Redacted) in New York. I started as his secretary, and then moved up to apprenticing under him. I found a new life, and a new...well, everything."

I tried to take her hand. I could see a movie playing out on her face, and she was desperately trying to change the channel.

"Don't touch me," She said as she pulled away, "Not today."

She stood up and walked outside. I know she was crying. She does a good job of hiding it.

Ellen, I know you're going to read this sooner or later. I just wanted you to know that I don't judge you for what you did. When my universe exploded, I had a family and friends to fall back on. You didn't. The world beat you down, and you beat it up in return. You survived.

You're the same berserker demon samurai I faintly remember. Just a bit more lost. I just hope you can realize: we're not all bastards.

I don't want to hurt anyone else.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I hate your enemies.

Fucking people, with their eldritch abominations.

The last few days have been bad. We were trying to get the full scale of the scope of Mastermind's operation, and everything started clicking into place. We found some abandoned papers in the abandoned apartment which lead us to a gutted office building.

The office was a thin place. It had seen this kind of thing before. Someone had meddled too hard, and too fast, and a war had erupted. Burn marks from fire brought from beyond the veil, hacked walls from fists and blades that defied physics, it was all pretty standard to me.

Nick though? He'd been here before. He was the one who'd caused it. After years of not knowing whether or not what he'd seen and done was real, and having no way to prove it, he'd grown used to the idea that he'd never know the truth. He finally made peace with knowing he'd never see The Presence's physical body, that he'd never meet Mastermind in person, and that he'd never ever have proof that the conspiracy he thought had existed was real.

I pitied him. He could not die a warrior's death. Now he was trapped, knowing he could have fixed this and failed.

We explored the dark, bloodstained and devastated offices, finding scattered remains of papers throughout. While Nick was wandering around like an alcoholic, I was looking through progress reports, statistics, and casualty numbers. This was where Mastermind's organization was born. This was where it should have died.

Nick dropped to his knees when he found the cages. There was one that looked like it had been sheared in half. He stood there in front of it, and began crying.

I gave him some space. I never thought I'd be here either. He saw where his loved one turned into something else, something twisted and foul. I lost my loved ones long before he did, but I didn't think I'd ever see someone else doing what I did.

Maiden told you how I left my "family." Knowing I could never go back was like what Nick was going through in that building. It took me years of counseling and an honest-to-god decent father figure to get me back on track. Nick had so many years where he just had to pretend it never happened, it must have hit him like a train wreck.

Then I heard it.

Papers shuffling from the stairwell we arrived from. I couldn't see anything in that direction, but I felt it. The same thing I felt when people were dying at Hope.

I ran to Nick, and tried to pull him up off the floor. He wouldn't move.

I shouted, "Damn it Nick, The Slender thing is here, we've got to go!"

He whispered, "Leave me here. Let me die."

I slapped him. He was shocked, but not moving. I could feel it getting closer.

He said, "Even if I get all the allies I can find, and even if we survive long enough to kill the bastard, what's the point? If we destroy Mastermind, what's left protecting the world? I'm done. I've got nothing left, Ellen. I'm done."

I lifted him bodily off the floor and slammed him against one of the intact cages.

I have a Voice. It affects people when I use it just right.

I screamed in his face, "Maybe there IS something left. You won't fucking know unless you try, now MOVE. I know you can see him, and I know this isn't how you want me to die."

He stared, he didn't get it.

"Ellen, what...?"

I screamed in his face, "I will fucking die here with you, do you want me to be a corpse?"

For better or for worse, I said that. My old rival is the only thing I have left from my past. It's one last thing, and I just don't want to lose it yet.

He started moving. I could feel it after us, and the stories are true, you know? I don't think you can outrun it if it doesn't want you to. Except that I confused it. After all, I'm not afraid of the unknown. I've lived and trained to be as ready as possible for anything. It makes sense that I can't see it, I'm not it's food.

Nick though? Nick was plagued with fears and doubts about his lost love and a world that might just be in his imagination for the last few years. He's like a Slendy-buffet, if you believe in the whole "Fears can only target people who are susceptible to them thing."

Of course, The thing could probably tear me in half for being between him and it, and I know it's done that to people unrelated to all of this on several occasions. I've determined that the reason I pulled him along was that I was crazy. We'll leave it at that.

Down the stairs we went. I'm busy dropping wards and traps and the thing's plowing through they like they're paper. Well, they WERE paper, but spirits aren't supposed to be able to treat wards like that.

We hit the bottom of the stairs, and the doors were wide open...except for the massive brick wall.

That bastard. Fucking Barry. He'd bricked off our damn exit. We saw him wave to us, and put in the last brick at the height of his mask. So the THING is at the top of the stairs, and Nick is running like a madman, and I'm wondering "What the fuck is he thinking?!"

So then we jump into the brick wall, and I realized EXACTLY what he was thinking. He was thinking: "If Barry's setting the last brick in now, the cement can't possibly be dry yet."

We crashed through a pile of bricks and cement, and he drew his little bag from his side. I drew a knife from in my coat. We were ready for a fight.

I don't know if he's mentioned his little bag. It's black, and covered in old runes. I asked him what was in it once.

His exact response was: "There are things in this world man was not meant to know. Some of them are in this bag."

I knew it was behind us. And he turned around as he stood with that bag and...

Boom. I was blinded. Nick was thirty feet behind me in the street, and there was no sign the bricks or cement had ever been anywhere near the building. Nick slowly picked himself up. His knuckles were bleeding. Whenever I encounter this THING, I always find myself feeling inadequate. I can't see it, I don't know what magic works on it, and the magic that does is usually what I don't use. I need to find something that WORKS in this scenario.

I didn't feel it around us though. That was a start. Nick looked like he'd been put through the ringer though.

"Nick, are you okay?"

He said, "Nope! It's all real! All of it. I didn't save the day, I made it possible for Mastermind to take over the goddamn world. I'm the goddamn reason the world's going to hell in a handbasket-"

I cut in, "You AREN'T. You couldn't have-"

"-I COULD have just violently killed things and kept this from ever happening. But I didn't. And now here we are. TELL me that this could have been averted by me being a goody-two-shoes, I dare you."

"Honestly Nick, I would have killed all the sons of bitches I fought when this started. But that's me. You don't WANT to be me."

"Maybe I do, Ellen. Maybe that's exactly what I need to be. Maybe it's time to stop scaling up as the problem does, stop acting like a wonderful person, and start KILLING THE FUCK OUT OF EVERYTHING!"

That's when I punched him in the face. Nick rolled with it, and came back up in a defensive stance. He looked shocked.

I said, "And does killing the fuck out of everything actually FIX the fucking problem?"

Nick looked away. He rubbed the side of his face where I decked him.

"No. No it doesn't."

I said, "Good. Now lets get out of here before IT shows up again."

How did I become the voice of reason? In conclusion, I hate you all, and the faceless enemy you've made. He is a many-tentacled piece of invisible shit, and he's making our lives MUCH more complicated. Mastermind is a big enough problem as it is without THIS shit going on.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Who is Mastermind? Part two- The Fourth Side

Being in Philadelphia should be more fun.

I won't tell you why we're here. It's all part of our secret plan to take care of business. Nick is currently traumatized, and you bloggers aren't helping matters.

So why did Nick disappear? Why all the Stealth? Why is he being so quiet, and doing his best to not tell you anything at all about "Mastermind", and what his continued existence means?

Pay attention:

It began when we reached this apartment. I was in Philadelphia for some time when I was younger. You all know this already. Now, even after I left my home and escaped from my fellow spiritually demonic brethren, I still stayed in Philadelphia for a while and kept an eye on things.

Nick desperately wants to tell the world everything, but like anyone who's been traumatized, his emotions are a bottled up mess that he just won't let loose. Angry, bitter, confused, he's going through all the stages of his loss all over again.

There are stories. The historians will pick apart what happened in Philadelphia for years to come, but there is a reason why they fear Nick Dwyer: the lengths that he will go to protect someone he cares about would make the devil crap himself.

I can't say I liked "Maiden" very much. She and Nick are worried about telling you a lovely story for posterity, but how about I cut to the chase?

There were five rogues. Rogue Wizard (The Presence's Father, Our Original Villain), Rogue Nemesis (Mind fucker, considered Nick a rival), Rogue General, Rogue Assassin, and Rogue Duelist. Those weren't what I called them, but they're the labels Nick used.

Rogue Assassin and Rogue Duelist don't matter to us. Time Lord ended up dealing with them around New York. They're another story's problem.

So at this point, you know of three sides in this war. The Rogues, who wanted to take control of the Upstairs, the Upstairs normal army, which was trying to deal with them and my people, and of course the Downstairs and demon-kind. Under normal circumstances, this would be considered extraordinary. Nothing like this has happened in hundreds of years.

There was a fourth side though. Nobody saw this coming. I didn't.

There were a lot of people like Nick and Time Lord in the world at one point, game pieces on the board, but what you might not realize is that there were a lot of game pieces on the board that were meant to "wake up" and support the Rogues. Nick was one of them, but he was made to forget that fact. There were pieces for my side, and for the Upstairs, and that was supposed to be the game. Then some other people put pieces on the board. And a whole bunch of pieces for all three sides decided to take a fourth option.

Nick believes that people are basically good. He believes that if Humanity understood the world around them, and knew the stakes and that they were being used as pawns by otherworldly forces, they could rise up and gain some kind of cosmic harmony. Maiden talked about that a little while ago.

That's exactly what humanity did. When they did, the first decision they made was to take care of the game pieces in play that they couldn't control. The Rogues were a threat to Humanity, the Higher Planes were a threat to Humanity, and the Lower Planes were a threat to Humanity. It was basic math really: subtract enough problems, and the world is your oyster.

When a young girl suplexes a wannabe combination murderer and rapist into the ground, cracking the concrete and breaking his skull, people take notice. "The Presence" had been on a hit list for a while. After all, Mastermind was one of Rogue Wizard's friends. They knew his daughter had some power to spare, and now they knew that she was one of those very rare people who could manifest it and affect the physical world. At least, that's what they THOUGHT happened. That made her a risk they couldn't afford to let run around.

So Nick, The Presence, and Time Lord began to deal with the next major threat: a group of "Celestials" as Time Lord called them hellbent on taking something in Philadelphia for their use.

I'll let Nick handle that particular white lie, but I want you to imagine dealing with that particular mess, and then waking up one morning to discover that the person you are connected to across space and time by an irrevocable bond of love is also waking up... handcuffed to a radiator in an abandoned apartment in Philadelphia.

Humanity rose up, and they faced all the monsters in the world, even if they were the kind, gentle, human loving and protecting monsters.

I hate you all. Humanity is a bunch of shortsighted, ignorant, hateful beasts on two legs that think they know honor. They name an entire trait after themselves, call it "humanity", and then proceed to ignore it. You're all bastards, and even now, Nick Dwyer will defend you.

These bastards let all three sides kill each other, and when nobody had anything left to give, they attacked with all the cunning and political bastardy they could put together on short notice.

You want to know why you've got the Slendershit breathing down your neck? Because humans like you destroyed all the great armies that kept the Fears and other great monsters in check. There are things popping up all across the world that used to play nice and clean, because they didn't want an angry demon or righteous angel to drop their asses for causing trouble on their turf.

Humanity's greatest heroes fought and earned their independence from the natural order. And now the world's coming closer and closer to destruction, and there's nothing left to hold it together, now is there?

But whatever, I'm not a historian. I'm a detective. And I detect the end of the fucking world. The barrier's collapsing, people are getting eaten, and an entire generation of shamans and mystics died trying to save you, or became the monsters that destroyed the fighting forces of heaven and hell. There are a couple independents, like that bunch that Nick keeps in contact with over the internet...but they're a bunch of amateurs.

Face it humanity. You fucked up. Nick and Maiden are probably going to spend weeks telling the whole story, but you know what? It's your imperfect, mortal choices that caused every bit of pain you're feeling right now.

Who is Mastermind? He's the hero that took control of the world for humanity, and doomed you all to being the victims of the Fears and the legendary monsters held back for centuries. Welcome to Earth, when the barrier breaks, it'll make hell look like a picnic.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Who is Mastermind (Part One)

Maiden's been writing the history I've been neglecting. Whose side is that thing on?

I don't know what's going on out there anymore. Ellen and I are holed up in Philadelphia. I don't know what to feel right now. We're in an abandoned building, and I've been here before. It was as an astral projection.

In my line of work, there are a lot of things that you see and sense where you wonder to yourself: was any of that actually real? Is that the world, and was that the truth? Often it isn't. You question yourself, and everything you do, every impulse, every thought, and eventually you do it in the background. You stop consciously asking questions, because you live and breathe the question in everything you do. The minute you stop questioning things, you go insane, or you die.

I had my moment. I decided to believe in myself after a run-in with an insane Portuguese shaman. I'm not going to link the mess, because if you've come this far you know about it. I had an answer, so I kept asking the questions, kept moving, and finally decided to do SOMETHING.

I gained something back after that. My battered will, my desire for victory, it had been restored. When did I lose it though? Here's the question for the hour: Who is Mastermind?

After Ellen escaped from her "family", I ended up having to spend a lot of time covering for The Presence. We had one advantage: the demon infused sons of bitches burned like candles if you had the eyes to see them. So I acted as her well armed and armored protector. Of course, an astral entity interacting with the physical world is a crapshoot at best: I was shooting at the demonic energy around her, and hoping to all that was holy that it put them down.

For the most part, it did. The war continued as normal, except now I wasn't just getting woken up at 4 AM or attacked when I was getting in the shower. I had to be aware of The Presence's situation 24/7.

The Demons weren't the only ones who'd organized. During all this, I'd gathered that The Presence and her close family were actively organizing with anyone they could find involved in this mess.

The Presence's father was Rogue Wizard.

I haven't written about him much, the son of a bitch.

Anyone who has been paying attention is probably wondering why I didn't use the "army" I had at the time to protect her. I didn't because they head-fucked me, and made the idea of using the army in her defense never occur in my damn brain. As much as I go on about how they were all traitorous bastards, some of them weren't. If anyone determined the connection between The Presence, Rogue Wizard, and myself, with the suspicions surrounding me already... well, we'd all be dead.

The Presence, Rogue Wizard, and their small cabal, trapped in conflict with Ellen's old Hell-bunch and the forces up the "Good Guys", and me in the middle. There was of course, one member of the Cabal that no one noticed. This was because he had every intention of hiding himself until just the right moment.


It's not his real name, but I've already code named everything else. So who was he really? I'll get there eventually.

The Presence was a high school student in our world. One day when The Presence was in class, one of the demon-infused puppets attacked her when she left the room. I could feel all of her pain as she felt it. The attack was brutal, fast, and vicious.

I remember her injuries, I felt them on my body as she felt them, and I remember her being pulled off balance by the neck and her head slammed into the wall. I remember her being elbowed in the face, the head was important to this thing. It didn't want her thinking or fighting. It slammed her through a door, and discarded her on the floor.

I could feel her panic. I remember being in class at the time and feeling my heart pounding in time with hers, adrenaline flowing through my veins like liquid dynamite. All it needed was a match. I excused myself from the room.

I could feel her mind, weak, frazzled, unable to focus. I could see him drawing the knife. I knew he wasn't just going to kill her, he wanted her to feel this well into the afterlife. I don't know why, but I always find the psychos that really hate women. Why can't I find a normal, run-of-the-mill murdering bastard? Why is it always some sick fuck with mommy issues?

I remember being inside her skull, screaming at her, "Get up. Fight. Kill him!"

She screamed back, "Help me!"

And then I was her. I felt her shocked, injured mind recoil in surprise as her arms gripped his hand and slammed it against the wall, breaking it and forcing the psycho to drop the knife. I felt the shape of the psycho's pelvis as I inserted her boot into his groin. I felt the underside of his jaw as I brought her skull up into it, breaking his jaw. Then I gripped around his body, and drew him close to us. To someone who didn't know better, it would look like a loving hug. The mind of the Presence was active again, and she helped me get the proper grip for our next move.

We German suplexed that motherfucker. Our combined strength lifted his ass, brought his head back behind ours, and slammed it hard into the ground.

And then she was The Presence again, and I was Nick Dwyer. She sat down, nearly in shock, barely alive after a confrontation with what turned out to be the last of Ellen's demonic brethren. The police came to interview the Presence and figure out the situation. I fell asleep on my bus ride home, exhausted. It's hard work, taking over someone else's body and giving them all the energy in yours. But you know what they say: Sons of bitches need suplexing.

Okay. Nobody says that.

One of the people there was a "Special Agent". He was Mastermind. The Presence knew him as a friend of her father's, and thought she'd be okay.

When you're dead tired and your body is a broken mess, you wake up after a full day of sleeping and think sunset is sunrise. God help you when you hit that point. Before then, I thought I'd known pain. The show was just getting started.