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The Gothic Journals 
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: The Gothic Journals v2
(Excerpt from the journals of Alexander Dreamfire, Alpha Base, Antarctica, Jan. 4, 2011)
Goddess, help me. The BSAA has ordered me, Chris, and Gamma Squad to investigate the sites of Umbrella's destroyed Antarctica facilities. Someone who knew about the them has been doing something in the area. I'm not sure what they expect to find; both were destroyed by self-destruct mechanisms. The Rockfort Island facility survived its own self-destruct but that was in a far less harsh environment. By now both would have been crushed by glacial movements, leaving nothing. Yet they're still digging around and our job is to find out why and, if necessary, destroy them and anything we find.

Given that many Virus-created creatures do not handle fire well, and the cold of the Antarctic is an excellent place to preserve viable contaminated tissue, the folks in R&D have mixed The Thing with an episode of MythBusters about the Hindenburg. A flamethrower that releases a mix of thermite suspended in butyrate. Ignition is caused by another chemical that activates after a few seconds of continued exposure to oxygen. Despite all their assurances I'm still not convinced this is safe. Thermite burns at five-thousand degrees, half the sun's surface temperature. Brian is likewise wary. Even the best-made flamethrowers have the potential to fail catastrophically. Not to mention the effects extreme cold have on things. Since we're in the southern hemisphere it's summer here, but that doesn't mean much when it never reaches past ten degrees at high noon.

That's another thing. This close to the Pole the sun won't set for ten weeks. How the sun not setting will affect the team is a serious concern. I'm not keen on tranquilizers since this is not the place to be spaced out but it may be the only solution if they can't fall asleep. At least the little base has decent food, private rooms, and entertainment to keep us busy when we're not on patrol or investigating something. This place is so isolated it can easily drive people insane.

For today, at least, I'm not ordering any patrols. Radar and satellite imaging have provided us the locations of places with fresh tunnels dug over or near the facilities. Recently. It looks like who or what is here didn't take Christmas off. The tunnels themselves had been melted with the walls left to freeze for support. Too rough to be magic or psionics, so I'm guessing thermal drills. That fits with what look like track treads near small, poorly hidden bases. Tomorrow we infiltrate the bases, cut off communications with the outside, and round up anyone we find for questioning. Maybe the computers or papers we find there will tell us something without having to go inside those tunnels.

(Excerpt from the journals of Alexander Dreamfire, Alpha Base, Antarctica, Jan. 5 2011)
Things took a turn for the weird today. At the base five of us were able to sneak in and take the people there by surprise. That's when things took a turn. They weren't wearing arctic suits but parkas that wouldn't have provided enough protection. Their faces were also covered in ceramic masks. The Dawn Scanners revealed the presence of an unknown pathogen and DNA that was not entirely human. There were traces of various insects, arachnids, even reptiles and birds in the sequencing. Only those strains seemed to be in a state of suspension. They weren't active. That is bizarre, even for G-Virus and Las Plagas mutations.

When we tried to arrest them they began speaking gibberish in Min Chinese and attacked us with machetes. We had no choice but to shoot. Of the eight, six went down and their bodies combusted from the inside out until just ash remained. One sustained wounds to the legs that caused them to mutate in seconds to something like that of a grasshoper's legs. The other caught rounds in the chest but mutated a covering of chitin, like insect carapaces. We were forced to take down the first because of its sheer mobility but the other wasn't even harmed by bullets to its armor. One shot shattered the mask and revealed what looked like over a dozen eyes, some big, some small, like those of a spider. That one I ran up to and plunged a syringe into, extracting a blood sample before breaking its neck. The main body once more burned to ash upon death, but the sample is still intact. We don't have the necessary facilities for an in-depth analysis here but I'd wager this is an example of the C-Virus.

Computer terminals set up in protected, dome-shaped shelters revealed this was an excavation by Neo-Umbrella, on the orders of Ada Wong. The picture, though, showed her dressed in a blue skirt and jacket with a red scarf. The real Ada wouldn't wear something that restrictive; even her dress in Raccoon City and on the islands south of Spain offered greater freedom of mobility. And lately I know she's abandoned such for more utilitarian wear. This has to be her clone, Carla Radames. I'd thought she already got what she wanted from the body of Steve Burnside; why come back here?

I'm not even sure of what to call these freaks of hers. This is something so new I've no idea what is going on.

We downloaded everything from the computers and left. An incoming storm would hide any signs of our presence besides the absence of those...things. Back at base we settled in for what would be a major blizzard. In reviewing the files, though, I was able to determine why she sent her little minions here. She's gathering whatever samples of the T-Veronica she can to augment the C-Virus further. Worker reports from within the tunnels are not promising. The BOW remains are so badly damaged that acquiring any viable samples is proving impossible. Twelve years was too long to wait. Even the remains that are relatively intact are all but useless thanks to the nature of the T-Veronica. The final entry states they're coming up and leaving the site tomorrow. The storm will delay them and choppers from a nearby icebreaker. Long enough for us to move in and hopefully take them alive.

Dead men do tell tales, but live men tell better ones.
(End transcript)

_________________
"Money is the root of all evil...I think I need more money."


Last edited by High Priest Mikhal on Sat Sep 20, 2014 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Nov 09, 2013 1:49 pm
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Post Re: The Gothic Journals v2
(Excerpt from the journals of Alexander Dreamfire, Alpha Base, Antarctica, Jan. 5, 2011)
Brian and Maxine took the first shift of watch last night without incident. Despite the blizzard it wasn't hard to see anything approaching our perimeter. Chris and I took second watch, where I had a chance to talk to him about taking some time off. He'd rescued Jill, stopped an outbreak of apocalyptic proportions, and yet he wasn't taking time off. Not even during the holidays. He spent two weeks on a mission to the Congo and now he was accompanying us to the Antarctic. There's a hard edge to him that speaks of emotional exhaustion. I could, and probably should, have pushed the issue more but I dropped it after he began ignoring me. There wasn't a lot I could do about it in the middle of nowhere.

Things were otherwise uneventful as "dawn" approached. Then, over the howl of the blizzard, we heard an arctic cat. The only other base nearby was the one we were there to investigate. So as Chris went to activate the alarm I tried to pinpoint the dozer. It was only twenty meters away by the time I finally saw it and shot a round from the Sun Gun, destroying the engine. Much to my surprise a Chinese man in furs stumbled out of the cabin and began frantically running in our direction, screaming for help in Min Chinese. He didn't seem fazed when he was met with raised guns and flamethrowers and instead fell to his knees, babbling about "the Virus getting out" and how we had to get out of there.

We brought him inside and gave him a mild sedative when he proved unwilling to calm down. As soon as he wasn't screaming I told him to take deep breaths and tell us what happened. His name was Kwang Mao-Fu and he was a researcher for the People's Republic of China, assigned to help a mysterious benefactor of the government. He and seven others, along with a dozen engineers and a dozen more soldiers, were sent to Antarctica to locate and excavate the old Umbrella facilities for any useful bio-weapons material. China seems fully aware that the US government had a hand in Umbrella's research and development. What they found was what we'd read in the report: not a damn thing of use. They were supposed to be picked up but the blizzard stopped that. Instead some of the equipment they'd been given began venting a blue fog or gas. Kwang was inside an old clean room and was spared exposure until it dissipated after a couple of minutes. But the others weren't and they rose back up as zombies within a few seconds. That was almost ten hours ago. He sat and watched, helpless, until he finally used a coin to unscrew a vent cover and make his way to the surface where he hopped in the cat and was headed to an Australian outpost forty miles east of us. Until I shot a hole in the engine block.

Apparently this expedition was never meant to return if they found nothing. I don't think even the Chinese government would throw away valuable men like scientists. This spoke of another group, one with the amorality to use people as mere insects. But what he'd said about the fog turning the others had us worried. It looked like our mission was being pushed up so we could contain things. Blizzard or no blizzard.

As we rode out there were things bothering me. The replication rate of the T-Virus took days, the G-Virus and T-Veronica hours, but this new one--the C-Virus?--worked in seconds. That was truly frightening. And in aerosol form. After initial exposure the number of infected from those who were already turned could multiply exponentially in a crowded environment. Raccoon City was all but destroyed by something that took thousands of times longer to work; what would happen if this faster Virus was released in a city? The thought was too grim to consider and I pushed it out of my head.

At the site a few of the infected had made it out of the tunnel down. Silvia and Will were the first to open up on them with the modified flamethrowers. A thick, red sludge coated them and seemed to freeze. None of us wanted to get close, but after ten seconds they finally burst into flames hot enough to melt the snow and ice beneath them several feet before the thermite burned out. Scans revealed no trace of the Virus left. Overdone but effective, I had to admit.

Other than a main room there weren't too many other places to search. The place was in ruins as Chris and I had expected. Doors crushed, corridors collapsed, the only energy coming from an old generator that powered lights, a heater, and the computers. The last had been wiped clean of any data; they wouldn't even start up since there was no operating system left. The majority of those infected were still in the main room and it didn't take many shots to set the place ablaze. Those that didn't burn to ash instead literally melted into goo, something I was able to gather a sample of before those, too, were incinerated.

We were about to enter some of the few open corridors to search out the rest when I felt ice water fall on my head. The heat was melting the ice that covered the place. At that I ordered the team out and for Brian to throw in some plastic explosives to bury the place. As we were leaving I heard the ice begin to crack and the structure itself begin to collapse. By the time we made it out there was no sign of the tunnel down. Even the explosions that followed a minute later were muted. If there had been anything we missed it would be torn to shreds by the shockwaves. For all intents and purposes it was mission accomplished.

Save for Mr. Kwang. The Chinese government would want him back. So would their benefactor if only to silence him or pick his brain for data. But they had designed things so that all of them were to die. Mr. Kwang himself didn't seem too keen on returning to China, either. What his fate would be would depend on the BSAA, though he was obviously no threat and had no loyalty to the people who tried to kill him. Whoever they were. It would certainly put a divide between them and the Chinese government when the latter learned there were "no survivors of a new Virus infection." Enough to hopefully make China realize these people were using them and not the other way around.

For now, though, we're waiting out the blizzard and a chopper back to the ship so we can go home. The year has just started and already we have hard evidence of a new Virus. Something far more potent than anything we've encountered before. Plus the two tissue samples to analyze in depth. Hopefully they'll tell us more about what we're dealing with before anything bigger happens. The last thing we need is another fubar like Kijuju.
(End transcript)

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Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:02 pm
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Post Re: The Gothic Journals v2
(Excerpt from the journals of Alexander Dreamfire, Draper, UT, Jan. 29, 2011)
This seems like the first day since we returned that there haven't been reports, after-reports, assessments, and other such clutter littering my desk waiting to be filled out. The news of an all new Virus has the talking heads trying to squeeze blood from a stone from us. I don't know how many more times I can tell them the same things we recorded, scanned, and remember from that day. Even Kwang is getting frustrated and he knows more than any of us. Yet the tone of their questions are what get me. It's like some of them know already, or had suspicions. What I'd hacked and discovered I never told anyone. Not Kyra, not the girls, no one. Yet they seemed to be better informed about things than they'd let on. They even mentioned Lanshiang, the location of the Neo-Umbrella base.

They tried to pass off their knowledge as "anonymous tips," but for bureaucrats they're awful liars and worse actors. I wrote a program to do some snooping on their backgrounds and came up with ties to the Family. Not actual membership but contacts among known Family members. This isn't a surprise; after the BSAA was taken from the Global Pharmaceuticals Consortium and given to the UN they haven't had much success in infiltrating directly. The three "B's" of politics--blackmail, boons, and bribes--tend to be more effective with a group made up mostly of dedicated, honest people. The rank-and-file who see the horrors tend to be too close knit for infiltrators (Jessica Sherawat notwithstanding) to find out much. Better to go for the real weak links: the folks at the top.

Then there was the lab incident where researchers not from the BSAA came in and caused a minor spill as they fought with our own people. The labs had to be evacuated and "sterilized" (read: burnt to a crisp). Were it not for samples stored in separate, highly-secured vaults we would have lost everything. Ever since then only those with clearance of red or black have been allowed in. Plus the fact these outsiders had to pay tens of millions of dollars to replace the equipment their actions destroyed. That more than anything has driven a wedge between the politicos and the rest of us. Their own, "You don't need to know," strategy has since been reversed on them regarding all finds the researchers have. It's an unspoken understanding that we always tell them, "inconclusive." I don't even know why we have such people; we're a military-style organization! Actual tactical and strategic command is in the hands of those who do things. The talking heads are just political appointees who don't do anything but waste our budget and get in the way.

Something tells me they won't be there much longer. The UN Security Council is looking hard at what they actually accomplish and realizing what the rest of us already know.

Our findings have been far from "inconclusive," however. From those two mutated freaks we got a fairly clean sample. It's not as good as a pure sample but it's better than nothing. The C-Virus is a retrovirus like the others but has mutative capabilities that outstrip anything we've seen before besides Uroboros. Since all life on Earth shares upwards of 95% of the same DNA it can activate gene sequences from entirely different animal families. As evidenced by the mutations witnessed there are lesser and greater mutations as well, with lesser being those that happen to humans when a body part is damaged and greater those born of bizarre chrysalides that may form when a subject suffers a critical amount of damage. The lesser mutations lean heavily towards arthropod-like changes (insects, mostly). Greater mutations using human blood as samples show reptilian DNA mostly. Computer mock-ups showing what a given sequence would produce, however, are not found in nature. These things are true aberrations. The chrysalides are also susceptible to the effects of electricity and sufficient current can cause one to literally fall apart by killing them. Their metabolism runs so fast that any mutation would require five times the normal intake of calories to sustain life and in death their cells are so highly exothermic they literally burst into flames and burn to ash in a split second.

Without a pure sample, though, I'd bet my life there are other mutations we can't even guess at.

From the zombies we discovered the C-Virus in aerosol form has a life of two to three minutes. An extremely polluted environment or direct exposure to sunlight can kill it in seconds. The level of pollution required would make LA look like an environmentalists wet dream, though. Sunlight on a clear winter day would be enough, which explains why the Virus didn't escape the site in Antarctica. The replication rate is off the charts, taking over living cells so quickly one needs a very high-end high-speed camera to see it. Infection of a given cell is clocked about one per three nanoseconds. In large animals like humans that means death and conversion in a few seconds. This is in line with the metabolic rates of living subjects. The amount and quality of live flesh they would need to sustain basic mobility is so high that they would hunt an area clean of life in hours and die of starvation almost as quickly. As witnessed in Antarctica an extremely cold environment does slow their metabolism enough to stretch this. Extreme heat, in contrast, doesn't cause the rate to go up so much as cause individual cells to literally boil, burst, and appear to melt. This means fire is especially effective in destroying them.

What's perhaps most disturbing is that the C-Virus is adaptive, able to bring the long-dead back to life. What this could cause in things other than blood samples is truly horrifying to consider. Actual animal testing is strictly forbidden since none of us want another outbreak if something gets free.

Since the lab techs are more discreet than most I've given them the files I hacked from the computers of Neo-Umbrella. Knowledge, in this case, is a cold comfort at best. But like me they have the same problems. This was obtained illegally, it's happening in a country that is less than cooperative, and we have no hard evidence we can actually use. Kwang can't be returned without tipping our hand or putting him in danger from the Chinese government, Neo-Umbrella, or both. I'm worried it's going to take another major outbreak before we can do anything.

For now all we can do is watch and wait. This is all on top of the instability caused by the increasing divide between the grunts and the folks in charge. Things are going to be rocky in the BSAA for the foreseeable future.
(End transcript)

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Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:25 pm
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Post Re: The Gothic Journals
(Excerpt from the journals of Alexander Dreamfire, Draper, UT, Feb. 16, 2011)
Well this is a bizarre turn of events. Suspicions about the Eastern Slav Republic turned out to be true. Only the BSAA didn't catch this one, the US did. A law they passed called the "Anti-Virus Weapon Protocol number 7600" has allowed them to continue trying to act as the World Cop when it comes to viral weaponry. This was apparently passed while Graham was still in office following the Harvardville outbreak at the airport. A rather empty gesture by a man who knew he'd shot himself in the foot by denying the BSAA access. His legacy, coupled with every President since Truman, has seen this country go from a working republic to a thinly-veiled oligarchy where power is more important than the people. That they were on the Republic's side on an anti-terrorism campaign against the pro-independence insurgents as part of the War on Terror speaks volumes of the country's interests and the continuing failure of the CIA to fully investigate.

Word arrived about things when the Eastern Slav Republic put a call into the UN about a BSAA representative called Ada Wong. She couldn't have possibly believed that ruse would work. The ESR is so anxious for UN recognition that they've been sucking up to anyone and everyone that could possibly put in a good word it's sickening. Part of the reason they haven't been recognized is the strong evidence of their use of BOWs and the continuing civil war. Not to mention violations of human rights that could fill a War and Peace-sized book. Our own Intelligence networks had verified both sides using BOWs, though we lack the hardware to depose the government. Not just armor and missiles but nukes; Svetlana Belikova had secured atomic weapons from former-Soviet scientists and a secret nuclear facility. Technically we should have such resources, but with the talking heads embezzling funds we don't have them. Another reason the UN Security Council is investigating them and giving serious consideration to removing that layer of command entirely.

From what I can gather Agent Leon Kennedy infiltrated the country and then discovered the ugly truth about both sides. He also made contact with Ada before she was captured by Svetlana and given a firsthand look at the ESR's BOW facilities (what is it with villains and showing off?). Two Tyrants were killed in the action, prompting the US to side with Russia on a joint invasion that saw most of the insurgents killed either by their own BOWs or by the ESR, as well as Svetlana forced to resign her "presidency" and be taken into international custody for violations of UN accords that I can't list here without taking up pages of space.

While that's all well and good the BSAA has become more than a little interested in Ada Wong. It's no secret I encountered her in Raccoon City so I was asked to file an official report on what I know about her. Truth be told I don't know much; I've utilized her services before but beyond the fact she's an industrial spy with past ties to Albert Wesker and Derek Simmons she's as much a cipher to me as anyone else. For anyone in the espionage business that's the goal and the BSAA is well aware of it. But her continued ties to viral weaponry, especially the incident in the Iberian Peninsula, suggests either she has a personal interest in them or her clientele does. I'm leaning more towards the latter. Industrial spies, especially successful ones, are complete mercenaries. It behooves them to remain neutral and know only the bare minimum needed to do their jobs. That benefits both spy and employer if things go south.

Thus far they have a name and a face but little else besides knowing she's an independent spy. In a world as connected as this it takes more than a little skill to remain off the radar. One method I prefer is information overload: putting out so much contradictory information that by the time any given piece is verified it's useless thanks to time-sensitivity. She seems to prefer the opposite. No credit cards, no travel records, not even a birth certificate. I told the Intelligence folks they'd just be wasting their time but they never listen.

Obviously some things bother me. Like why she would make claims to being a UN rep for the BSAA. She's too smart to think that would hold water. Maybe she knew and counted on being caught out so she could take down Svetlana and investigate things for herself. Only from what I've heard the woman is a master of acrobatic combat, very much like the style I use. Ada may not have realized just how good she was. Being captured didn't seem to be part of her plan. But it did expose the ugly truth nonetheless.

That leads to my second real concern. By falsely claiming affiliation with us she just painted a big bull's-eye on her forehead. Why? That part I can't figure out. My own investigations have shown no contact between the real Ada Wong and her clone, Carla Radames. It's doubtful Ada knows the slightest bit about Radames, Simmons, and Neo-Umbrella. At least for now. And if she was being paid to do this then who foot the bill? Maybe I'm just being paranoid but I'd bet money it was the Family. The ones who have a clearer picture of things than anyone else. Exposing a country that threatened their precious international status quo fits. They have a vested interest in avoiding the chaos that outbreaks cause. If a micro-state from the former Soviet bloc starts dabbling in bioterror it would threaten their power.

Then again that's just speculation. And there's the question of who supplied the ESR? We've made sure one can't just comb the black markets and gain access to the degree of sophisticated BOWs they had. There has to be a hidden player who supplied both the ESR and the insurgents. And to my horror all signs point to Neo-Umbrella. Only they would gain anything by this.

I just hope this isn't a prelude of things to come.
(End transcript)

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Mon Dec 23, 2013 7:58 pm
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Post Re: The Gothic Journals
(Excerpt from the journals of Alexander Dreamfire, Draper, UT, March 13, 2011)
Things have been rather quiet on the bioterrorism front. Which, statistically, means something big is on the horizon. Only there's no way to know when. It's making a lot of us edgy. It's also been prime time to remove the bureaucrats from office and put veterans in charge, those who know the score on the ground and who don't play politics (i.e., the game for those too stupid to learn to play anything else). We also managed to recover some of the embezzled funds, but not all of them. Mostly by liquidating most of the ex-talking heads' assets. The rest is effectively gone unless investigations turn up anything.

For us grunts it's been a time to start receiving better training, weapons, gear, and access to vital tools like flight simulators. My gut has been telling me I need to put in time learning to pilot the choppers we finally have. I can't say why but by now I've learned to trust it. So far I've logged at least three-hundred hours of simulated time and a hundred real time. I've been given my wings but I'm still logging in time on some of the "worst case simulations." Given the evolving nature of terrorism it just seems prudent to have some idea of what to do under fire, if the chopper takes a hit to the rotors, basically anything that could go wrong.

Then there's the "threat assessment" simulator that many domestic police agencies use. Basically it's just a video game of someone claiming to reach for ID who may be doing just that or for a gun and agents have to determine--based on subtle tells--what's really going to happen. The simplest, most subconscious aspects of body language can give away someone's intentions. This is doubly important when agents don't speak the local language and have to rely on body language alone in tense situations. Just to make things more realistic users have to strap on vests that will give them a painful jolt if they get "shot." Having the adrenaline rush drives home what it's like. It isn't a perfect analogue for what it's really like but it's better than nothing.

Finally we've had a Hogan's Alley built underground. The better to simulate various times of day and weather conditions. That this was slated but never built before thanks to those con artists at the top just galls me. The realism is so much better than what the local police use it's like night and day. And, admittedly, they don't always have actors playing the part of enemies. Or even animatronics subbing for non-humanoid threats. The idea has taken on a rather grim moniker: the Agent Hunt. As the primary hub for the Southwest we've gotten agents from Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada coming here to experience the next best thing to really facing off against BOWs. California has their own but it's booked solid for the next year. So we've been getting some agents from there who realize the folly of not having regular access to a vital part of our training.

Training has certainly kept me from thinking too hard about questions with no answers. Like why someone as intelligent as Ada Wong would use such a flimsy ruse as saying she was one of us on her "mission" to the Eastern Slav Republic. If I take the time to think about it, though, the more I realize how deliberate it had to have been. The ESR and the insurgents were pawns in hindsight, a testing ground for what turned out to be a failed experiment. They were using modified Plagas and got shoddy results. Horrifically potent but still inferior to the C-Virus. Only two groups would know about, and have access to, the Plagas: the Family and Neo-Umbrella. I just don't see the Family as the type to give any nation in such a notoriously unstable region as the former Soviet Bloc any access to something classified as a Weapon of Mass Destruction. They want order, control, power. Letting anyone in that region gain access would cause chaos, destruction, potentially a worldwide outbreak. Those seem to be the goals of Neo-Umbrella whose leader is undoubtedly growing less and less sane with each passing day. Trying to impose a new personality over an existing one is a sure path to all manner of personality disorders. Carla Radames wasn't the most mentally sound of people prior to her transformation by the C-Virus; I can only guess as to her sanity now. Ada Wong is certainly mercenary but even she has a conscience. How does that reconcile with one who eagerly sent twelve-thousand Chinese women to their deaths in the name of Simmons' sick desire for a clone of Ada?

In two words, it doesn't. She must be on the verge of a psychotic break if she hasn't already had one. What worries me is that she's not just psychotic, she's hyper-intelligent and has access to an organization that can make her twisted desires come true. What sorts of things is she breeding on the Family's dollar and with the best technology money can buy? And what are her motives? Does she even have any that would make sense? If I had to guess, though, I would say she's driven by hate. Hate for Simmons especially but also the Family. While I certainly wouldn't mind her taking the two down, her goals seem to be about attacking them through the world. They made it what it is and the best way to hurt them is to destroy it. As much as I hate the monsters--literal and metaphorical--that walk unseen I'm not going to destroy everyone else to get rid of them. She's a bigger threat than the C-Virus.

So why won't the Chinese government open its eyes and realize the viper in their midst?! What can be worth that?
(End transcript)

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Mon Dec 30, 2013 9:11 pm
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Post Re: The Gothic Journals
(Excerpt from the journals of Alexander Dreamfire, Draper, UT, April 2, 2011)
Something is wrong. Yesterday I was running Gamma through the Alley and had to stop things early when I heard a high-pitched whining noise. After everything quieted down I realized I wasn't hearing it with my ears but in my mind! Not a moment later I collapsed, grasping my head in agony as that sound got louder and louder. Then as suddenly as it started it stopped. Blood was trickling down my nose and from my tear ducts, thankfully still disguised. I've been put on medical leave pending a full physical. Silvia, thankfully, has been cleared and will fudge the results enough not to reveal my true nature. But even she is insisting on an extensive examination.

I'll give her this: she's thorough. I've submitted samples of nearly every fluid in my body, had every vital checked, and undergone every check but a CT scan. Further the technician declared the results from an EEG tainted because the levels were too high; a "faulty machine," he called it. So I get to go through that again on Monday when I do get a CT. I'd forgotten that even such a basic test would pick up things "abnormal" for a human. If I use aura alteration I can trick all the machines into reading me like I wasn't anything strange. But the fact I heard that noise in my mind made me worry there was some sort of psionic or psychological element at work. There's only one (well, technically two, but just one with the abilities) who can do the proper mental scans without being driven insane.

Kyra obliged me by using probe thoughts and came to two conclusions. First, there wasn't a thing wrong with me psychologically. Second, there was no explanation for that attack. She had a third but I'll decline to write it down. There was something else, however. Her own magical works revealed that something had irritated the physical structure of my brain without actually affecting it physically. Not enough to cause any damage but that it happened worries us both. Only magic or psionics can do that; there were no magical traces nor did I find any foreign psionic auras. That doesn't mean much since any traces could have faded. Unless it happens again I can't be sure this isn't just a fluke.

One thing that I can't stop thinking about is how familiar this feeling is. Antarctica, 1998, the freak that Alexia Ashford had turned herself into by fusing with the T-Veronica. It's the same sort of mental static she exuded when I didn't maintain my psionic focus. Only this is more intense. By my estimates it's still too early for whoever or whatever is experimenting to have successfully fused another host with the Virus unless they've somehow sped up the rate of adaptation. It's not impossible given developments in genetics and, of course, magic. Even then it would be hard for a force even like the Red Death to affect psionics the way it does magic. The latter comes from the ambient energies of the universe while the former comes from within the self. It would have no influence beyond what it already established in the metaphysical framework of this world.

But it could still attempt to hinder it in other ways. If other psionic beings felt the same thing I did at the time then it's possible this was some sort of test. Given how few people in this world have even the faintest trace of psionic potential it's a needle-in-a-haystack puzzle. I'm not getting my hopes up for answers. It's more likely I'll come off as just another nut with Internet access.

(Excerpt from the journals of Alexander Dreamfire, Draper, UT, April 8, 2011)
My queries have garnered some real answers, mostly from India. Much of what was posted is just the usual trash talk and pleas for attention all too common but there were enough posters who did strike me as being real to continue discussions with them privately over email. One of them is also an agent from the Indian chapter of the BSAA. At least a few of the others I sought out know just enough to sound legitimate but my gut was telling me otherwise so I diverted them and sent a virus to gather information. The others knew things only those who really are psionic entities as well could know. I don't trust them any more than I do anyone else but they're my best bet for now.

One thing we were quickly able to discern is that all of us did, indeed, experience the same sort of thing a week ago. No one was able to manifest any powers at the time but a couple did mention that afterwards they did detect a lingering aura of psionic power. While "telepathy" was used, they never used "psychometabolism" to describe the second effect; "mind over matter" and other terms that mean the same thing, yes. Whatever happened was a combination of both and, had I not been wearing my coat, I would have been hit by an equally debilitating burst of psychic noise that left others temporarily insane. As is it seems a few of us escaped with nothing more than very intense headaches; others formed brain lesions and a few were even killed. Very few failed to notice that most others were not affected. Only those with psionic capability were.

I can think of a few powers that display effects like brain lesions and psychic noise, but not both at once or on a worldwide scale. Further not everyone was affected at the exact same time; there were delays as large as two minutes. Those affected in the Americas were hit first, along with those in the Southern Hemisphere, then an even spread north and across both latitudes. Both the western edges of Europe and central portions of Asia, as well as the southern edges of Africa and Australia, were hit last. From that I can extrapolate the point of origin as the center of South America, but that's about it. Records indicate that Umbrella once owned and operated countless isolated facilities throughout the continent, especially in the rainforests. Figuring out if any of them are still around, much less functioning, is impossible to determine.

Psionics may be rare here, but unlike worlds like Krynn they do exist among the native populace. A massive burst of psionic power like that would draw attention no matter how scattered. Who or what is behind it has to realize that. Plus such a macroscopic burst of what is essentially neural oscillations can be detected by machines. Unlike in fiction true psionics can't be detected simply by the brainwaves unless the psionicist was hooked up to an electroencephalogram machine at the time. But this scale of power breaks the rules of all but the rarified master manifestations. It's all too possible--plausible, really, that machines could detect it. Those closest to the source would be lit up like Christmas trees. And even if by some miracle it wasn't detected that way it has still been detected by living beings. That's one of the worst case scenarios for groups engaged in any sort of illicit research: discovery.

It might be too much to hope for but I can have our offices in South America watch for any major, sudden migrations of people and biomedical equipment through the continent. That's asking a lot given the political climates and sheer size, not to mention I don't even know if that's what I should have them look for. There is just too much still unknown and no time to look for answers. And all this is assuming it has a thing to do with the T-Veronica. I can't rule out another source. But my instincts are telling me that this is related. Even if it's not, it's a threat that I can't ignore.
(End transcript)

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Fri Feb 27, 2015 12:04 am
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Post Re: The Gothic Journals
(Excerpt from the journals of Alexander Dreamfire, Draper, UT, April 11, 2011)
Someone--or something--is going to great lengths to cover up an apparent terrorist incident within Uruguay's borders. Initial reports were leaked to the Internet but within an hour there were hundreds of times more rebuttals by "official" sources. That pretty much says that something did happen. What's strange is that the attackers apparently weren't even human; at least three were seen changing from human to humanoid leopards, others "looked like walking corpses," and the one leading this group was apparently a human covered in scars that looked more like runes. Very heavy firepower took them down and the bodies were "disposed of" before anyone could look at them.

Perhaps the only item that got out is an intercepted broadcast from the human. It's hard to tell what it was since only a portion of it could be decrypted, but certain keywords do stick out. "Experiment, "psychic," and "hidden base" were found. Unfortunately that's all that was found and now those who know anything are clearly "sanitizing" any physical scrap of evidence left. Their efforts to stop any digital evidence seems to consist entirely of discrediting everything. With scant little belief in the supernatural it won't be hard for most to disregard this as some sort of an Internet prank. That something happened will be harder to disprove.

It's probably just as well. I received word from some friends at TerraSave that a liner carrying the leaders of the NGO was hijacked by parties unknown. Among those kidnapped was Claire Redfield and Moira Burton, Barry's eldest daughter. The man called me, frantic, hoping I could locate her with my powers. Whatever happened she's been placed under some effect that bars divinations. I even used metafaculty and barely managed to pin things down to an island in the Baltic Sea before something attacked me psychically. Whatever it was, it didn't like contact with my mind. A moment before they disengaged I "felt" their mind snap. It's a feeling I recognize from my time in the Land of Mists; insanity from contacting an alien mind--mine. At that point I dismissed the power and got out as fast as I could.

As much as I would like to help in finding the ladies, that attack has me concerned. It was a true psionic attack. Wild, unstable, yet still fairly potent. Only Alexia Ashford possessed that level of power and hers was unlocked only after fifteen years of cryogenic stasis to adapt to the T-Veronica virus. Even then her abilities were more like cascades than anything controlled. It's not impossible that the Red Death's minions have refined the process and reduced the time for a host to develop powers, but they would be more like wild talents writ large until they learned how to properly control things. Not to mention the method used causes continuing physical mutations that uncontrolled psionic use would only aggravate. Such pawns would be costly in terms of time and resources to create, but potentially worth it to a sufficiently twisted mind.

The more I think about it, the more I feel the attack was a gauging maneuver. An attempt to discern the extent of my abilities. Why anyone or anything would do that is the question. Coupled with the psychic static felt worldwide nine days ago, however, the image starts to become a little bit clearer. Magic comes from without, an ambient energy of reality easily filtered through the Red Death. Psionics come from within, a personal well of strength that cannot be tapped into from the outside except on a very small scale. If it is looking for a way to counter a force it has no way of controlling, then flooding the world with noise to disrupt the thoughts of those properly "tuned in" is the next best thing.

If true, then what happened nine days ago and today are connected. I fear the Red Death is using its minions to find a way for it to undermine psionics. Everyone and everything with psionic power resonates on the same metaphysical level. The power catapsi does something similar on a very localized level. Only this could be something far more thorough and far reaching.

Even as I write this, Kyra has just told me she wants me to aid a mission for the Office of Supernatural Affairs. Teenagers in some small town in Missouri are dying from non-specific causes. All of them reported lucid, graphic nightmares that sound like they came straight out of A Nightmare On Elm Street and displayed very real wounds. One was even observed by doctors and nurses as a series of four straight cuts just opened on their stomach without any visible cause. The local sheriff has flat out refused outside help, even turning away agents from the Division of Security Operations, America's new anti-bioterrorism agency. The Office, however, is not bound by jurisdiction concerns. There's little the sheriff's office can do besides dragging their feet. The people, on the other hand, are free to be as uncooperative as they like. That could make finding out what's going on an absolute nightmare.

Given that these kids are apparently being killed in their dreams it might not matter. Hopefully it won't.
(End transcript)

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Wed Jun 10, 2015 7:19 pm
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Post Re: The Gothic Journals
(Excerpt from the journals of Alexander Dreamfire, Haller's Creek, MO, April 28, 2011)
Small towns never seem to truly change at their cores. They're always clannish, gossipy, and quick to judge. It doesn't matter what world, country, or technological level. And in America there is an all-too-often accurate stereotype of the town rallying behind the local high school football team. I don't know a lot about sports nor do I care to learn. If people put half the energy into studying economic statistics as they sports stats, this country wouldn't have suffered the Great Recession. That slavish loyalty is magnified tenfold for small town football teams.

That little fact got rubbed in both our faces the moment we arrived. Ten kids die in their sleep and it's only when a football player starts suffering that the locals really give a damn. Aside from the families of those kids who already died or are suffering from the nightmares, nobody has been too cooperative in helping find a link that ties these deaths together unless it has to do with the star halfback. Fortunately we did piece together something to start with from the families who were willing to cooperate.

One or both the parents of each child who died was, in high school, targeted by a local man who was arrested for child molestation and murder. And he was freed on a technicality and hunted down by local parents who burned him alive. It could have been drawn right out of ANOES; the similarities are eerie. Verifying anything in town has been impossible, though. Local records have been systematically censored or destroyed regarding anything about this man. Even the families were rather hesitant to give us a name or exact details. All they would tell us what this happened in 1986. Records that far back apparently aren't online yet but they did infer that Columbia, a city fifty miles south, would have them.

After visiting the third family, however, we became aware that the sheriff--an older man easily in his late-fifties--was tailing us. After the seventh family he actually came out of his car to talk to us. I was expecting him to be gruff and standoffish but instead he was polite and said he and his deputies would help however they could. I also noticed him slipping a paper into my pocket but didn't do anything to stop him. Honestly, he seemed afraid of something but eager to help all the same. Kyra was the one to voice our shared thoughts, that there was more to what was going on than met the eye. Watching your kids being disemboweled from some unseen force is a horrific thing, but usually people are more willing to find an answer than this.

By then it was getting late and we hadn't eaten all day so we stopped at the local diner for a meal. As soon as we walked in the place went quiet. Needless to say we both felt very uncomfortable until the head waitress yelled at the other patrons to quit being rude and go about their business. I half-thought that was the end of the odd behavior until she said we'd been expected. She led us to a booth where two twenty-somethings sat, dressed in older but still expensive clothing. Going by looks they were siblings, and that was verified when they introduced themselves as Joseph and Emily Haller.

The way both moved, spoke, and acted just screamed "old money." They explained that Haller's Creek was founded by their pre-Revolution ancestors and thus "their own." We were welcome to stay and help, but to also finish as quickly as possible and "not dig up things best left buried." The haughty attitude was really beginning to grate on my nerves when I noticed that both had subtle repairs to their clothing. Very subtle, in fact, enough that most people wouldn't have noticed. To me that said lagging fortunes. This being the South there was no shortage of families that were New World aristocrats, especially during the years when plantations were still making money. But for almost twenty years the Old South had been dying at an increasing rate as people shifted to a technologically-oriented economy and professional educations.

In the New South there was a dramatic shift still going on and a lot of older, more traditionalist families hadn't adapted fast enough--if they tried at all. Even then the old ways were still kept in use. Small towns like Haller's Creek were still often socioeconomic battlefields between rivals that thought nothing of destroying people's lives just for petty one-upmanship. I'm guessing the Haller family is still grasping at their legacy and are concerned that our investigation will uncover truths they'd prefer never become known. As much as I'd like to free this place from the grip of such ignoble bluebloods, that's not something I can do just yet. When we explained that all we cared about was discovering whatever was killing local teens they just reminded us to "leave things from the past alone" and left. The way they spoke and their actual words, however, were actually veiled threats hidden behind otherwise innocuous language. Much like how "bless his heart" is actually a grave insult in Southern high society.

Words from the fading gentry aside, there's still the task of figuring out just what the hell is going on. Very few people or things in this world have the ability to kill people in their dreams. Magic is one, but that's extremely rare in general. Certain creatures native to the Region of Dreams certainly have the ability. We could use dream walk to search but without a link to whomever is being targeted we'd just waste time searching individual dreamscapes. My gut is telling me that whoever was our unknown child killer is linked to them. Possibly as a ghost taking energy from the fictional tale of Freddy Krueger but I'm not willing to assume anything yet. Since it's just the two of us and we still have three families left to interview tomorrow, one of us will have to head down to Columbia. Normally Kyra would do the researching, since that's her specialty, but the people here respond better to her than to me. More than a few remarked how I look like a "pretty boy" and asked me crude, tired jokes about possibly being gay, only to recoil in abject horror when I responded in an effeminate manner. Some people can't take jokes, even their own.

As for that piece of paper the sheriff slipped me, that's going to help narrow down the search. It's a name: Jedidiah Silver. I think it's the name of the dead pederast.
(End transcript)

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Thu Sep 24, 2015 8:40 pm
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Post Re: The Gothic Journals
(Excerpt from the journals of Alexander Dreamfire, Haller's Creek, MO, April 29, 2011)
The day began for me with an hour long drive to Columbia and sorting through the Hall of Records' files. Fortunately the name the sheriff slipped me made it a lot easier to find exactly what I needed. Jedidiah "Jed" Silver was, as I suspected, a pederast and showed every sign of the MacDonald (homicidal) triad from a very early age if the records on his behavior are accurate. This was back in the Seventies so it's not surprising no one put the pieces together. But what I do find surprising is his paternity.

Jed Silver, although never officially confirmed, was the illegitimate son of one Isaac Haller, the current patriarch of the Haller family. The old man fed his mother enough money to keep her quiet but not enough for the two of them to live. She worked two jobs from the time he was born until a stroke killed her at her waitress job in 1976. He was fifteen at the time and that was likely what triggered his homicidal behavior. Especially since the first of his victims was found later that year. The Haller family apparently did their best to stall any serious investigation lest his actions reflect badly on them. He was a scion.

Skip ahead ten years and he's still at it, only to get caught red-handed. Now this is where things start to make the most sense. He wasn't freed on a technicality but because no one would testify at his trial. Evidence was also tampered with and thus inadmissible in court. In the end he was set free because somebody had gone to extreme lengths to make sure the case fell apart. It's an open secret in Haller Creek that the Haller clan was behind it, but eight dead kids and three times as many attacked was enough to drive even a populace terrified of losing their jobs, businesses, and homes to action. Things otherwise played out exactly as they were described in the first ANOES movie and official investigations went cold when no one would talk. Only unlike the movies, his remains were given a proper burial and funerary rites. Upon my return to the town I checked out his grave and the ground was hallowed. Someone had made damn sure he wouldn't be coming back like Freddy did.

So what were we dealing with here if wasn't a ghost or revenant? Kyra had some luck in getting more details on what the murdered kids saw since one of them, the first victim, had drawn what he'd seen in his dreams. Only half the face was actually burned, like the body had collapsed on its right side and avoided the flames. Further the right hand wasn't wearing a clawed glove so much as the claws came out of the fingers themselves. Notes written by the boy also detailed odd little weaknesses and abilities only added to the mythos of Freddy Krueger in later movies. Apparently he was a fan.

So it's not a ghost or revenant we're dealing with. Going by everything found so far I can only conclude we're dealing with a bogeyman. In the Land of Mists I dealt with a couple of them before and they were never simple to stop. Destroying their physical form didn't do anything but stall their return unless the original site that spawned them was discovered and cleansed or the story was not spoken of near it for over a year. Plus they could return if another spiritually desecrated site resonated with their story. So the real question is, what actually spawned this thing?

Kyra asked the question that put us on the right path. Did the remake last year unleash a real terror? I couldn't bring myself to see it since Robert Englund literally made Freddy come alive with his masterful acting, but the critical reviews were pretty poor and basically said it was uninspired and by-the-numbers rather than anything original. That would have been enough to unleash a real force kept trapped by failing to truly renew the tale. If that's true, then Haller's Creek would have been ideal for it to come into being. But it doesn't explain why it took almost a year before there was even one attack. Where was the trigger? Especially in a town that didn't talk about Jed Silver?

Someone must have broken the code of silence. In reviewing the boy's notes we found nothing that hinted at him knowing about Jed Silver. Not even a veiled reference. It looked like he had no idea of the truth. Given how thoroughly the town, and the Haller family themselves, censored local records of the whole affair it seems that only someone who was there at the time would know. So someone who was alive and old enough to realize or be told the truth back in 1986. That meant a person in their early- to mid-twenties at youngest. And someone with sufficient cause to speak of it for whatever reason.

There was no getting around it. We had to visit the sheriff's office and start asking him about any locals that would bring it up. He was understandably reticent but he did give us a name: Ashley Jude, one of Jed's targets that he never got to before he was arrested and murdered. She was the town's "revolving door" as he put it, an alcoholic, and had been investigated by Child Services for neglect and abuse of her own daughter. Further she lived in a house on the same site that Jed Silver's had been on before it was demolished after his death. The cellar was still original and that meant any Sinkhole of Evil would have been untouched. People still thought the place was cursed as well. All the ingredients needed to spawn a bogeyman.

Our discussion was cut short when a radio call came in that an ambulance had been dispatched in response to a call about another attack. The sheriff was willing to let us ride along and we got there just as the ambulance did. Inside a girl of maybe sixteen was writhing on the floor like she was having an epileptic fit. On the Near Ethereal I could see the faintest outline of something over her. Without thinking I grabbed her wrist and entered her dreams. She was being chased in some funhouse reflection of her own house by the same thing drawn by the first victim. Unlike Freddy he was dressed in a stained, sleeveless flannel shirt and faded jeans, his right hand notably swollen and bone-white claws projecting from his thumb as well as fingers. Seeing me set him off in what I'd now call a tantrum and I had to tackle him to the ground. He got in a good slash at my face before escaping me with a strength I wouldn't have expected. I felt something in my hand tear even as turned my head and screamed at her to wake up.

Back in the waking world the EMTs were watching as she calmed down suddenly and I came out of the haze. Looking in a mirror in the room I saw four red lines across the left side of my face, more like fingernail scratches than cuts. But in my hand was a stained scrap of flannel, a piece of his shirt. My first thought was that it was just like in the movies, then I realized this could act as a link to finding the thing in the dream world--and a way to locate the original Sinkhole that he had spawned from. Everyone else was gawking and asking what had happened, where I'd gotten that scrap of cloth, what I was thinking in grabbing her like that.

In silence I stepped outside and sat on the front stoop, still trying to parse my thoughts. That's when the two Hallers from last night drove up. Given everything I'd learned I was not happy to see them there. They began to say how disappointed they were but I cut them off by sharply yelling that I knew about Jed Silver, Isaac's son, how their family had aided a monster in escaping justice, and that retribution was long overdue. To make my point I even slammed on the hood of their car, a Ferrari, with my fist and dislodged the engine in addition to tearing through the metal like foil. While I watched them both run in terror I also used my PDA to start the process of freezing their family's assets. There was no buying their way out of things this time.

Likewise, there wasn't going to be a chance to eat or rest tonight for us. If this thing had drawn on Jed's personality, it would seek to strike back at someone soon in frustration. Even as I write this we're in the cellar of Ashley Jude's house. It doesn't take someone sensitive to feel the evil in this place. While Kyra works to cleanse it, I'll be projecting my spirit in dream form to find "Jed" and destroy it before it can hurt anyone else. This ends tonight.
(End transcript)

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Sun Oct 04, 2015 4:51 pm
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Post Re: The Gothic Journals
(Excerpt from the journals of Alexander Dreamfire, Draper, UT, April 31, 2011)
I entered into the local Dream still clutching the piece of Jed's shirt. From it was a silver thread not unlike the one attached to astral bodies and I was able to follow it back to a distorted reflection of the house he grew up in. It certainly looked like something from the Seventies, if that decade suffered from a flashback to a really bad trip. The faux wood paneling had faces pressing through the grain veneer and the shag carpet was comprised of cactus needles, shark teeth, and hypodermics. Everything was sized differently from each other and covered in dark ash. Somewhere in the distance was the sound of sobbing as well as screams of pain. It made my head spin to look around and there was enormous pressure on my chest.

Worst of all was the air. My lungs were being seared from some unseen flame while my entire right half was blistering and bleeding. It took all of my will to shake the pain off, simply to see my flesh untouched. Whatever else this thing did, it had the power to inflict hyper-realistic phantasms. And then there was the sensation of a finger poking into my very mind. Apropos that a bogeyman borne of dreams would try to draw on its victims' fears by getting inside their heads. But I wouldn't give it that kind of satisfaction and brushed the sensation aside effortlessly.

I stopped for a moment and tried to feel my surroundings by shutting down all conscious thought. Just for a moment I saw past the illusions and the emotions given form. This place...it wasn't even a proper dreamscape. There was no seed, no underlying logic that informed everything, no actual feeling. It was a piecemeal thing created from the memories of former victims of Jed Haller, the real one. But there were still things there that felt more real than most of it. Like the scimitar that came scant millimeters from slicing my throat open. Reflexes alone saved my life.

In his--it's left hand was a blade made of rusty steel dripping fresh blood. Only the thing was grossly oversized in the way so many cartoons portray superhumanly strong characters' weapons. From the way it bit into the ground just being held it had to weigh a couple hundred pounds as well. Why was it attacking me using that thing rather than the bladed glove its current incarnation? I quickly dispelled the thoughts and attacked it with both mind blades, eventually shattering that massive sword after it tried to parry once too often. As with anything in a dream it didn't just snap, break, or fall to pieces; it exploded in a red haze even as the creature gripped its wrist in agony.

It was the opening I'd been looking for so I just cut loose! In the waking world I'm always afraid I'll break something or hurt someone if I let my full strength out. In this world I could achieve the cathartic release of letting it all go. So I let out untold kinds of frustrations in tearing the creature's...shells, I guess, apart. When one persona it had adopted in the past crumbled, another was waiting below, and I made sure each was torn apart, shredded to pieces, and even burned away. How many stories had this creature adapted to? After a while I just quit keeping count and continued to tear away at it. Even that began to blur together as its form sort of devolved into images from history of what a nightmare killer would look like.

I have to admit I didn't even realize when I had finally torn away the final shell. At the time I just knew my muscles were burning and I was panting for breath so I stopped. What was left was a creature the size of a toddler with no features to speak of, just inky black skin and sharp angles in the rough shape of a humanoid. When it spoke it didn't actually say anything and spewed forth glossolalia. This was the creature at its core, a tiny mote of fear built up over eons by the collective fears of sentient beings. By then my attacks weren't doing anything more, either. A bogeyman, even stripped to its barest essence, cannot be permanently destroyed by conventional means. All my attacks did was wear it down to what it started as and strip away all of its accumulated power. Meeting it in the Region of Dreams meant it had no place to go once all was said and done; this was where it had been birthed. Would it remain in this state or regain the forms that it built through stories over its history? I never got an answer. It began to smolder and squeal, melting away into a flash of bright white light as I watched.

When I returned to consciousness I found out Kyra had finished casting hallow over the site. For now, at least, the threat to the children of Haller's Creek was over. But there was still the matter of the Haller family. The townsfolk would form into a mob and carry out vigilante justice when they found out the truth about Jed if something wasn't done to punish the Haller clan. They had essentially created this monster all in the name of saving face by getting the original murderer acquitted. No court would believe the truth. But they would believe that the family had obstructed justice in the first case if there was hard evidence.

That's where the people of Haller's Creek redeemed themselves. Old records, receipts, and even handwritten letters from members of the Haller family about not testifying were turned over once they learned their livelihoods weren't going to be destroyed for the sake of familial pride. Older Haller kin were arrested within hours, including old Isaac, and the state DA was ecstatic. This was as close to an open-and-shut case as there ever could be. All those implicated in the original obstruction of justice were arraigned within hours, over half of whom plead guilty right away. The rest will be punished as their fortune is put towards paying over a decade of back taxes; that's how I managed to get their assets frozen to begin with. As for the town, they're being allowed to buy the deeds and titles to their homes and businesses as part of an asset liquidation.

I wish the story ended there. But there was one last, bizarre incident. Kyra and I were getting ready to head to the airport when the sheriff called in a fright. Isaac Haller had been in a holding cell in the station since his health was too poor to move him safely until special arrangements could be made. He'd heard a terrifying scream come from the cells and discovered Isaac was hung from a length of cable pulled out of the ceiling. The old man was wheelchair-bound; he couldn't have reached the ceiling by himself. Nor could he have torn through three inches of reinforced concrete to get at the cable. There was nobody else in the cells with him, either.

In the rental to drive to the airport I saw a group of three kids in the backseat, all of them dead given their chalk-white skin and bloodstained faces. More terrifying is that I recognized them: they were recent victims of the bogeyman. One mouthed, "thank you," and then all of them simply disappeared.

There is precious little that will ever get me or Kyra to go back to Haller's Creek.
(End transcript)

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Thu Oct 19, 2017 4:13 pm
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