(The following is an excerpt from the personal journal of Mischa, translated first to Russian from his short-hand, then into English)
I have received orders again; it has been a long time coming. I have toiled long serving the engine of Capital, biding my time, and I am pleased to know my patience was in fact virtuous.
Reactivation was of course unexpected. The Soviet Union has long since fallen, and had been corrupted long before that. A true People's Revolution is still very far away. But there are entities willing to pay handsomely if you'll do their dirty work, so in the absence of revolution I will work to build power.
My orders on this day were to acquire a number of artefacts from a small town in Massachussets. These included an ancient tome as well as some sort of crystalline focal object. I couldn't say for certain what is the purpose of these items, but I have ever been obedient and so I completed my task. It is so easy to deceive Americans, they will gobble up the most outrageous lies without question so long as it conforms to their propagandized worldview.
It appears I will be required to work with other operatives for the forseeable future. I have not been informed of their loyalties at this time, and cannot trust any of them enough to reveal myself. Nevertheless, they have their uses. The Irish lad and his snake proved especially valuable, although I had things well in hand before they rushed in. I suppose they did save me an hour or two.
Sadly, our mission appears to have pitted us against a group of local vigilantes. I regret that my work so frequently requires me to take action against the few good souls alive in this hellscape of a country, but the work must be done if revolution is to occur. I cannot abandon my duty to my weak-minded doubts and morals. As admirable as these vigilantes were, I was able to easily bypass them and retrieve the musty old tome from a local repository, ensuring my own payment.
It was a joy to work in the field once more. I eagerly await further orders.
###*They named that time The Illumination, and it was by the flash of a camera phone.* The year was 2004. Until that point the Earth was as we had always known her. We filled her cruel vastness with legends, superstitions, and rumors. Out there, somewhere in the shadows, there be dragons. Warlocks, monsters, and gods lurked on the edges of the collective consciousness, always a possibility but never more than rumors supported by a convenient lack of evidence. That evidence came as humanity filled its pockets with technology equipped to capture and transmit. An iPhone found on High School senior Nate Klienman’s mangled corpse held a video of his girlfriend’s bone-snapping transformation into a monstrous wolf creature. A brazilian widow documented a series of conversations with the misty figure of her late husband. A was caught in fishing nets and put on display in a Chinese aquarium. Each week brought a new revelation that we were not alone. Superstitions reversed their slow death overnight. Salem held their first witch trial in a century. The jury rendered a verdict of “guilty on all charges,” sentenced Maxibelle Horux to death, and subsequently suffered an outbreak of rabies that claimed half their lives. A fearful, populist movement arose to rid humanity of the creatures lurking in its ranks. Many are forcibly subjected to a bizarre tests of their humanity. As you can imagine, the results of such tests are often open to interpretation, and a mob’s justice is swift. But where some see monsters, some see sentience, and others see opportunity. If a vampire can sustain themselves on cloned blood and work the graveyard shift, why not legalize and tax? These days it is difficult to find a politician or aristocrat unaccompanied by some sort of odd-looking individual whose job is listed as "advisor" or "protection." Entertainment magazines publish revelations every week about which celebrities shed their human skins at home. Charlatans of all stripes, from palmistry mediums to televangelists, have flourished despite the risks. The treatment of the paranormal varies from place to place, person to person. Yet the paranormal is not merely relegated to a persecuted class. Long have cabals, cults, and secret societies thrived in the shadows. Their roots run deeply through humanity’s oldest systems of power. Machinations are challenged, and sleeping dangers awaken. The world is changing, forcing long-dormant powers into desperate action. And it is in the midst of this great period of change that The Powers That Be have once again turned their attention to the blue marble. For the first time in two hundred years, Harbingers approach worthy individuals with an offer they cannot refuse. The Games have returned, and a new generation of Contractors are being forged. Gods save us.