I had lost just a touch more blood that I thought - nothing bed rest & a cup of tea will not cure, however it does put stress on my work calendar.
Since leaving the UK, jobs have come in rather steadily. The UAE is no stranger to scandal, & the Sheiks seem to care little about my infamy among the West. These Contract affairs to tend to take a toll on the mind & body, however...not to mention the spirit.
Oh, how I adore not mentioning that.
My wages for saving Vlad from certain death seem to be the option to augment my Mobile. Already quite useful, my benefactors assure me that I have only begun to see the applications of their cyber technology. This time, they promise they can make certain I will never need reading glasses! That, & gain a field of visual modes otherwise unavailable without high end optical equipment.
The price beyond what I have paid? The replacement of the lens, portions of the cornea, & some tiny wires in the optic nerve.
They swear I will have the same lovely brown eyes my mother gave me, & recovery time will be within hours.
This, this is how temptation seeps in. When desire prompts logic, which in turn erodes faith.
I understand that much of Sikhism is a rebellion against practices prevalent in India at the time, after Islam from the north crashed against Hinduism in the south.
I understand the aversion to piercings, or halaal food is an outgrowth of that rebellion. A relic of it's time, just as much of the Khalsa is.
Be that as it may, I still wear my "magic undergarments" as all Sikhs do. I maintain Khalsa (for the most part...), I avoid meat, I do not cut my hair or pluck my brows...
I don't alter the body God gave me.
Well, I don't get tattoos when offered by a client at least. I don't get a nose ring.
I do, howver, have a taste for these cybernetics. They make me better at my work. They give me an edge I desperately need on these Contracts.
They make me more More Than Human.
Or less. A lot less.
Other than my illustrious Patron Lorenzo (no Surname), the clients I have taken thus far have all ended up dead or missing.
Now that I am aware of this "Time Travel/Multiverse" nonsense, the Missing part may not be as alarming as I would normally imagine.
Ships passing in the night, a moment of shared destiny, written by God's hand.
Or "Quantum Entanglement" if you prefer, or even "Bloody Bad Luck" that they were assigned to work with me.
I continue to train harder.
To what avail? I am confident I could beat most men in a fight, armed or unarmed...I have always been considered "bright" in Academics. My military & CPS career was even considered "promising" before I pissed it all away.
Yet I have doubts. I am eaten up by doubt, like a knife slowly twisting in my stomach - I question my every move, criticize every result, doubt every victory, & never forget every failure.
What was I thinking? I set a bloody monster loose on ordinary men. A man died while I watched, safely away from the scene...
Reflecting on my failures, I am left with few avenues going forward:
1) Begin medicating myself for Clinical Depression, even knowing that such medication will be the end of my professional career (such as it is).
2) Continue on these mad jobs, & barter more & more of my principles, sanity, & even my flesh for a chance to...
Unmake my mistakes? Not likely.
Take a bullet meant for someone else perhaps? Is suicide actually what I am after? A dramatic death to assuage my conscious?
It may well be.
"Project Log XI, local time...15/10/21, Foundation Listening Post #38802, Cross Dimensional Operation: Stray Cat, Dr. Archibald Conway reporting.
Seven weeks in this cabin...It would almost be a vacation, Alyssa - if not for the threat to my life on the last field operation!
I'm sure you are quite tired of hearing about it, but you were'nt put in a D-Class Jumpsuit with a gun to the back of your head! That damned Con Artist Bright..."Oh, Dr Conway was never at any real risk: we couldn't inform him of our intents so his fear would communicate itself properly to SCP-5273..."
Presposterous! Those men would have shot me dead Alyssa!
Would have, if SCP-5273 had not intervened.
Incredible, really: in a vast herd of sapient animals, SCP-5273 not only took command but actively resisted their recapture. I shouldn't be surprised that when faced with Bright's thugs & his ultimatum, he wouldn't back down. Saved my life, mark my words.
And now...now I'm waiting around trying to bring him back into the fold. SCP-5273 has effectively removed or destroyed their SIN chip, but we have used other assets to roughly locate it. A mansion nearby, that appears to be a holdout for these "Paranormal Contractors" that Bright is obsessed with.
Waiting around, basically in exile at this cottage...I am fit to go mad! Is this how the sapient SCPs feel? Trapped, with no recourse but to wither away or break containment?
Well...IF 5273 returns things will be different Alyssa! I have the 05 Council's written authorization on that!
If he comes home..."
After the disaster that was his latest Contract, Alex got dropped off in a new town after a discussion with Ms. Inderpal about his future employment prospects. The first thing to do, of course, was change his look. Swap out the hunting gear for something in an ew style, grab a beanie to cover his ears, the works. After that was to establish himself with the locals, not get in deep, that would attract attention, but let people know he was around and pick up enough to avoid being caught by normal humans while out and about in his Werecat form, and finally establish just who he would be selling the game he caught to. After that he just needed to work his way into a routine and wait for the next job to swing round, when he could figure out a way to interact with people without all the hassle of his disguises, hopefully. In the meantime, studying was the game. Upping his game on all those beasties and ghoulies - no offence meant to Edgar - he was always fighting would be a big help in the future, and he should really get round to looking nto what, exactly, all these runes and sigils and spells and whatnot actually meant and did, before he was blindsided by another mess like the last one and sent scrambling to figure out what the heck was going on and how exactly he could win this. Really, better to know somethng beforehand next time.
Well, i made a bit of a mistake, a foolish venture and had to 'fix' things. Think I've managed but who knows.
We did a 'thing' something to allow easier communication between cohorts but I suspect i shouldn't have done so.
I had a blood transfusion, it was costly and painful, but actions have consequences and sometimes you have to do hard things to rebalance events.
So that was... something, not something I would like to try again but my bloods my own once more.
Took a few days recovering from this ordeal
Did some film work, a nice bit of stunt work, some fun explosions and fight scenes.
I've been king a bit of writting recently, finished a script for a film 'Day of the Shark' It's solid, i believe, just need to find a studio to go for it. Shouldn't be too hard , I know enough people.
Took some time in the countryside, for a drive with my lovely lady Teodora, such a good ride and a lovely companion, took a drive round Italy, it's a cheap trip when you dont have to pay for travel, flights are cheaper Teo's way.
Italy was lovely, such a scenic country and found some good places to eat and drink and made a good amount of friends along the way.
Continuing on this journey i made a round trip, Switzerland, Germany France and Spain, all nice places, all different, but enjoyable with their own sights and sounds.
I think my Boss is a Mobster or some shit.
I mean, it's not a bad gig really - be on call 24/7, fly the chopper or the swanky jet. Pays good, I get my own quarters outside the mansion, not bad at all. Might prefer a bit more notice than "You're flying to Greenland within the Hour" but hey; gotta make a living, am I right?
So sure, the Boss has us go to some swanky places, some really fucking weird places, never seems to have a plan that he shares with the rest of us...Visas? Flight Path?
Nah, none of that for the Boss. That's the help's job, sort that shit out so he don't have to.
So, I got the call to Greenland with short notice (as always), & I'm trying to get a flight path approved with Aviation while fueling the damn chopper at the same time...not as easy as I make it look, yeah? Well, that's when instead of the Boss one othe the other "The Help" comes around with...some kinda lizard? Big iguana?
What the fuck is this?
Turns out I'm gonna fly this lizard to Greenland, wait a bit, fly it back maybe after a day or two.
Maybe? Yeah...if it doesn't come back in a day or two, just come back.
Smuggling exotic pets maybe? I donno, but the damn lizard seems happy enough - they didn't even cage it, just told it to hop on for the ride.
Anyway, we did hit some weird turbulence going into the Arctic circle, crazy Northern Lights this year, for sure. Thought we were goners for a second, dials went all haywire, radio chatter was garbled...then it was all clear. Just like that.
Lizard hops out into the snow as happy as can be, comes back the next day.
Victor woke up. It was dark, not at all what he had imagined hell would be like, though it might simply be an aspect of where he had ended up. Or he was face down, that would probably do it. Victor attempted to stand, but found he couldn't. Where was he? His leg with the damaged nerve burned, a searing pain faltering his continued attempts to move, but still Victor could see nothing. Was this some kind of coffin? Had he survived, only for the other Contractors to leave him for dead? Why couldn't he sense anything? Surely the arcane energies of Hell should be wrife around him, or at least some kind of energy, he'd even take being stuck in his Grimoire at this point, at least then he'd be able to study while he... He had felt a strange feeling. Waited? Was he waiting for something? Victor had no idea why, but he could feel it. Death is not the end. Something was coming, and his soul was in transit. Even if he was dumped in hell after this, an unspoken promise echoed throughout his being. You will have another chance. Victor was determined this time. No matter what he had to do, who he had to use or kill, he would be back, and he would bring with him untold powers. He would need his Grimoire back too, wherever it had ended up. He hoped one of the other Contractors had taken it, he was unsure if its magical protections would hold up without him there to fuel them.
I have managed to make adaptations to a Rune of Dragon Finding in order to broaden its range of senses. It is now a Rune of Monster Finding, and should alert me to the presence of any monstrous creature within a fifty foot radius, growing more accurate and precise in its readings with greater access to mana. Further improvements to its range will be useful, as well as access to an internal supply of mana, my own reservoirs remain too small to fuel my runes for long. Further detail on the precise location and nature of the monster detected is possible, with potential applications including the use of the rune as a range finder as well as a targeting assistance system, in addition to simple tracking. The most prominent use of the Rune is that it will help immensely in the upcoming hunt with Paul and Clay, the Skin Walker capable of disguising its physical appearance, but not its magical nature. In combination with properly prepared weaponry, tracking, pinning down, and eliminating the Skin Walker should be simple, especially if it can be identified long enough for Paul to continuously track it, in the event that it escapes. Possible challenges to that idea are that by changing its skin, it is possible that the Skin Walker can change its scent, and the fact that none of us possess the superhuman physiques neccessary to keep up with a sprinting or flying animal on foot, which will force us to rely on ambush tactics and wearing down the Skin Walkers endurance if we fail to kill it in our initial strike.
There are other Worlds than these... but they are meant to be separate, each universe proceeding along in parallel and segmented off from each other. The barrier between the Worlds is known as The Curtain, and it's purpose is to make sure reality makes a certain amount of sense, that the varied and different circumstances of the varied and different universes stay contained, so that the internal logic of every World is consistent.
But The Curtain has grown tattered, and reality is slipping.
Here on Earth, native life has always been perfectly mundane. But for millennia, holes in The Curtain have opened up and allowed the bizarre inhabitants of various other Worlds have drifted over. Some have been around so long that it is hard to claim they are foreigners, but others continue entering through these rifts to this day. The select few Humans who are aware of this dynamic, known as The Stitchers, work themselves ragged and just barely manage to slow The Curtain's rate of deterioration. The supernatural grows more and more commonplace with each passing day, and with the advent of modern technology, the normies are beginning to notice.
Will The Stitchers eventually succeed in sewing The Curtain back up? Or will Earth become a melting pot of creatures who were never meant to co-exist? The Earth's future lies in your hands, Contractor. Don't fuck it up.
1) All Contractors begin with the Condition of Umar's Sight, which gives them the ability to see holes in The Curtain.
2) Native Contractors may not begin with the 'Gifted' asset. Characters who start with this World as their home are human (or mostly human; some inhuman ancestry is definitely possible). This means that some character concepts are just not possible with The Tattered Curtain as their starting home.
3) Visiting Contractors with Gifted are allowed, but be warned that the welcome from the locals may not be the friendliest if its easy to tell you aren't from around here, and relocating here comes with a lot of risk.
Our earth was not designed with the supernatural in mind. Humans were meant to be on top, the superior species, intelligent and lording over the beasts and creatures as is their right. Physics was meant to work a certain way, with (semi) predictable rules governing it. Nevertheless, despite good intentions on the part of whatever led to existence, the earth has been plagued with unexplainable phenomena throughout human history. Humankind has developed and evolved a wide variety of superstitions and beliefs to try and explain these things. In days gone by the explanation might have been “magic” or “spirits” or “God”, today the explanation might be UFOs.
The truth is that all of these are at least partially accurate. There are other worlds than these, existing in parallel to this one, and although there exists a sort of dimensional “curtain” between the worlds, keeping them apart, the curtain will sometimes become torn and tattered, allowing a sort of multi-dimensional “UFO” to bleed through. Historical tales of fairies, sasquatch sightings, the Bermuda Triangle, all of these are nothing more than consequences of these rifts in the fabric of reality, weak spots that allowed strange creatures to enter our once mundane world.
In the early days of humanity, The Curtain was fairly pristine, with only the occasional tear, often leading to either a new religion being started or some sort of mass casualty event. Many of the creatures who crossed over during this early period were able to settle down and establish permanent dwellings within this World. These are the creatures most often featured in ancient folklore: the Spirits, or the Gods. In some cases, they intermarried with the local humans, leading to many of the great Heroes of history (Greek stories are filled with examples of this, Zeus was a particularly thirsty example of a creature who passed through one of these rifts).
Over time, the fabric began to rip more frequently, and various societies developed their own defenses against this perceived invasion, fighting back as best as they could. However, it was not until 1190 that a means was discovered to close the rifts. Umar ibn Salim, himself descended from a djinn three generations back, lived in Damascus under Saladin’s rule, and played a minor role in the administration of the sultanate as an agricultural advisor. When the Crusaders laid siege to Acre, Umar went to serve his sultan and take charge of feeding the city. While there, he witnessed The Curtain rip open before his very eyes, and what seemed to him to be a demon crossed through. Without thinking, he swiftly slew the demon, and, seeing more creatures on the other side of the rift, stabbed at the side of the opening with his sword, piercing through all the way to the other side. The force of this drew both sides of the gap together, somehow sealing it shut.
When the Crusade was ended, the Crusaders were granted a pilgrimage to Jerusalem before returning home, and it was here that Umar discovered both how special and unique his abilities were, as well as found another man who shared them. The man was Percival, a young soldier similarly possessed of the ability to see The Curtain, or at least, see when it tears. The two of them went on to found what they called The Brotherhood of Guardians, a small group which scouted out other similarly talented individuals and recruited them to, as they put it, “save God’s earth from an other-worldly crusade”.
The Brotherhood of Guardians has survived in some form or another all the way to the present day. They are incredibly secretive; no one, not even members, has a full grasp of how large they are or how far they reach. Those who are aware of them are by and large deathly afraid of the group they know informally as The Stitchers; they tend to view threats to their anonymity just as harshly as the extra-dimensional creatures they fight.
At present, The Stitchers have a small presence in the governments of most states, but primarily exert power through their control over a small United Nations commission which exists to study the body of evidence surrounding UFOs. They give a report every five years, which thus far has consistently “debunked” the notion of extraterrestrials. Most of their funding does not go to research, it instead goes into the Brotherhood’s coffers. Their agents are on high alert constantly, searching for new tears, and monitoring locations known as Seams which have historically been hotbeds of trans-dimensional activity.
And then there are Contractors. The Stitchers are highly secretive and thus are very cautious about who they allow into their ranks, so they do a lot of their work through contracting out to mercenaries. The Agency was established by a couple of Stitchers as a middle-man entity, both to keep some distance between them and the Contractors they use, as well as to scout around for anyone who possesses “Umar’s Sight” and recruit them. In order to preserve secrecy, The Agency brands itself as a general-purpose mercenary clearinghouse, and are more than happy to book their Contractors out to anyone willing to pay.