The Nomad's Vigil

Shenandoah
Hollis

Dear Alice,

I hope this letter finds you well. It was wonderful to hear your voice again this morning, groggy with sleep though it might have been. I hope you’ll excuse the terseness in my voice when your new paramour was introduced; not, perhaps, the most traditional way for a Southern officer to be acquainted with his daughter’s beau, but you do take pains to remind me that we live in the 21st century, not the 19th. Let me know on the e-mail how you did on your finals, too, although I’m sure you performed just fine.

I was down in Georgia, recently, where the mosquitoes were very thick on the ground. There may come a time in your life, Alice, when you are confronted with a moral dilemma regarding a problem or opponent. You might ask yourself, “is it honorable to strike down a chained dog”, or some such analogy. You wouldn’t be my daughter if you didn’t. But always remember that we strive for things in this life not for ourselves, but for others. I did my duty, and I am as sure as ever you will do yours.

We’re in Louisiana now, taking on some more casework for Candlemakers and Lamplighters. We went to a peculiar funeral home on business, managed by the strangest little man I’ve met in some years, truth be told. Remember this, Alice, that you shouldn’t see something just because you expect to. It might be the most ordinary thing in the world to think “horses” instead of “zebras” when you hear hoofbeats, but sometimes we have to see the zebras for what they are, even when all the world tells us they are harmless mares. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, well, it might just be a very clever goose, wouldn’t you say, dear?

My new coworkers and I are getting along fairly well, all things considered. One of them, a professor, I think you would get along splendidly with. She’s smart and stubborn, with a flair for improvisation. Another, I hope, does not in any way resemble Bradley. The third has his head up his ass, but perhaps he’ll grow out of it. He’s new on the job and going through some family troubles. Nothing like with Granddad, you understand, just a separation.

I understand, my not-so-little girl, how difficult this is for you. I hate myself for not coming to see you and Mom more often. But I know you’ll be strong, and if this new fellow of yours helps you in that and treats you right, then that’s good enough for me. If my work takes me North I’ll be sure to come by and see you and Mom and Nadine, though.

Some fathers hope their children will follow in the family business, Alice. I surely hope that’s not the case. Know only that I love you and your mother more than I could ever say, that I am very proud of you, and keep a candle burning in the window for me.

Yours with love, always,
Dad

P.S. Don’t show this letter to Brad.

View
Baton Rouge
Cam

I’m working on a new research project.

The patterns on Regan‘s skin are some that we’ve seen before. Mr. M‘s sign was one of them, the only one repeated; there was another, though, that showed up in a circle like his. I’m looking into that one, but no success yet.

Speaking of Regan, we’re off in Baton Rouge looking into some business about his parents. I can’t imagine he’s terribly happy about all of this— first we drag up his whole horrific childhood, and now we’re dealing with the death of his parents, and once again it can’t just be a simple thing. There’s something up. I don’t know what just yet, but something’s up.

That aside, we got some information from Alpha; we got a list of some of Zero‘s more important aliases. I’m continuing research as we’re trying to sort out the collection of the Amadeos’ remains. I really hope we can wrap this up without another fiasco, but I really ought to expect everything to end that way by now.

It’s occurred to me that this is what I have to look forward to. What a dismal thought.

View
Kelly

Hey Kiddo,

Your Mom says you won’t get this, but we’ll see how many strings your dad can pull. Maybe Grandma or Grandpa will have passed it along. Anyway, I know you are a little thing, but I think you are grown up enough to take care of the important stuff by now. Sure, it’s gonna be hard without me there, but you’ve got that blue blood in ya, I betcha you’ll come out of this with your chin up high and not scuff on your collar.

I’m leavin I’m gone because You know those bad guys in your cartoon shows? Well, I figured it was about time to go slap the cuffs on em, teach em who the law is around here. They thought they could go out and try and hurt you and your mom and I said no way. That means I’m gonna be gone for awhile, but I’ll never be too far away to hear you if you need me.

Hold onto your mom for me. And if nobody you don’t know comes talkin to ya, smack ’em in the face. Or the shins.

-Dad

P.S. Your little hero came with me. Figured I could use some backup. He’ll keep me honest.

View
Athens Redux

There’s something in the water in Athens…

Spoilers: It’s horrible monster goo.

After picking up DK and getting information from him, we got down to some good old-fashioned research at the town hall. H and C got down and dirty with the mayor, and DM searched the back room while I charmed the secretary… Ugh, yeah, gross. Thanks, assholes. Luckily we pulled enough strings the first time to get invited to the Mayor’s house.

After we left there, lots of lovely new information at hand courtesy of DM, we ran into E, of all people, in his hotel room. So apparently the NR is keeping an eye on our cell. Or just C and I? Or maybe they were even following H, but E mentioned wanting a favorable eye on us. I wish I’d asked more questions at the time, damnit.

We also happened to follow the Mayor the next afternoon to his daily golfing event where he met with MM to play a few rounds and discuss their evil schemes.

But the real heart of this hunt ended up being at the Mayor’s house that evening, where a lovely surprise was waiting —his vampire bride, who had controlled the city through his family line for generations. Only, his neutered vampire bride, who had a familiar talisman wrapped around her neck keeping her bound to his will. H took care of her despite DM’s protests. It seems like DM may be too moral for Candle-burning. We’ll have to see.

Then we wandered into the mysterious water line to shut down MM’s evil monster making goo. It turned out that he had made a deal with the Mayor, freedom from his vamp in exchange for a monster breeding ground. We sorted it out with a grenade, but the Mayor didn’t quite make it out of the goo tunnel.

So it’s official, the Tower mark belongs to Mr. Magic, who experiments on people to create monsters. And I would very much like to kill him.

View
Past Events (and Acquaintances) Resurface
Cam

Athens, Part 2
So Mr. Wheeler spent a fair amount of time playing buddy with the Mayor, while Regan distracted the secretary and McMinton played thief. We actually managed to get a fair amount of information before we split— we got an invite to the mayor’s home, and McMinton found a pretty good amount of information on him. (And his wife. Oh, his wife.) We got the information to Dylan and we discovered a few things…

As it turns out, the wife was the first problem— she was a vampire who’d held thrall over the mayor and several of his predecessors, kept him young. He got tired of her early on, never wanted to be mayor apparently, but somebody came along and offered him a deal. Mr. Magic stepped in and gave the mayor control over her (we fixed that, but it involved Mr. Wheeler decapitating her) in exchange for the use of the old mansion house.

There lies the second problem (or lay, anyway). The creatures in the mansion are what he calls the “survival project”, and that was an apt name, as I recall that when we tried to take down the butler-thing the creature wouldn’t die. The mayor took us down to the tunnel that runs out that way, out to the mansion. The smell down there… it reminded me of Sudan… strongly. I have some suspicions now about just who Mr. M associates with, and I fear these “survival project” creatures may have been based on the thing that took a piece out of me over there. Anyway, we figured blowing the water main that runs there was the best way to sort that all out. Slight problem: this means we had to blow it and then get out of that tunnel as fast as physically possible, because the sludge in that tank would kill you quick. It did just that, unfortunately, to the mayor. The rest of us got out okay and left as quickly and quietly as possible.

We decided to transfer to the motel where Dylan’s staying. (Ran into Earl, too, and apparently the Night Road is keeping an eye on us. I’m somewhat suspicious about that, but nice to know somebody might be looking at us without intent to kill.)

It might be time to do some research into that thing I encountered— or anything like it. I was afraid to before, but it seems it might be relevant.

ATHENS NOTES
Hunters: sometimes skinhead groups are Hunters
Mr. Wheeler’s Sword: scares vampires
Mr. M: absolutely a sorcerer of some kind
Mr. M: Survival Project
Mr. M: uses the tower-symbol we’ve seen before
Mutants: created by M or associates
Mutants: likely sentient
Mutants: not the mayor’s family
Mutants: survive being shot
Rodney’s Knife: gives Regan fits
Sorcerers: can control vampires
Vampires: drinking their blood keeps a human young
Vampires: not averse to garlic
Vampires: show up on film
Vampires: terrified of fire
Zero: not human
Zero: told us to avoid Mr. M

View
Let Us Cross Over the River
Hollis

[The recording bursts into sudden noise, the roaring of waters and Hollis screaming]

For God’s sake, Stuart, go! Pedal to the metal! We’ve got to—

[The recording cuts off again and then clicks on again, muffled as if still wrapped in a coat lining and switched on by accident. Hollis sighs and the sound of a highway can be heard in the background]

Forgive me for failing to find a more amicable spot, sir. I am bone-weary, though I do my duty gladly, and did not wish to walk too far from the hotel. But a roadside wood serves my purpose as well as the grandest cathedrals of Richmond or Charlotte would, I suppose. My Vigil carries on in the unlikeliest of places.

Lord, forgive me my sins and trespasses, for on this day I have slain another. Though her eyes were black with evil and her history red with blood, though I felt the momentum of history behind my arm as I swung my blade, I have killed. And so I beg forgiveness for myself and, if it is in your infinite wisdom to offer it, mercy to her.

Lord, may Stevenson find rest in your embrace, asleep with the peace of righteous combat. He was a craven, a charlatan and a liar but he did his duty.

If there was anything left of those wretched creatures in that house, may their torments be at an end and their madness quenched by the waters of the river, Lord.

Please keep Mary Ellen and Alice safe, Lord, for this is not their fight. May it never be.

[A pause and a soft noise halfway between a cough and a sob]

General, give me the wisdom to lead if they will have me. Without them I would have surely died this day, and I would be worthy of them.

Watch over Dr. Foxx, she is one of the bravest and most determined women I have ever known, and I have known many strong women in my life. She is the greatest cavalry officer I could ever ask for, and she has acquitted her duty with the elan and determination of any knight.

Spare poor Mr. Amadeo my speeches, sir! Ha! Ah, he’s not wrong, sir, I preach and carry on like a grandfather after dinner. I think it annoys him, but I can see in his eyes the fervor of a soldier, even if he denies it. But I’ll spare him this old Virginian’s ramblings. Once in a while.

Bring your wisdom and grace to McMinton, General. Let him find the equipoise for which you were so renowned. He is strong, and determined, and has a soul in him that sees the right and wrong of a situation with a stark, simple clarity. God willing, he’ll be able to keep it.

Thank you for sending us Kent, sir. Spymasters have never been the most noble of soldiers, but without him we would not have had tonight’s victory.

[Hollis’ voice picks up as the sound of trucks and cars rolls by. Anger creeps into his tone.]

General, give me the foresight to find the creature who did this. Lend me the courage to master my fear when I face him. Grant me the strength of arm and blade and will to strike him down where he stands for what he has done. Give me what I need to do my duty, for I swear to you he will die for what he has done! For that evil he brought on our Country!

[A sharp metal noise as Hollis sheathes his sword and the crunching of gravel as he rises to one knee]

I see the dawn coming, General, and will ride this day. Keep Jacobi and Llewellyn safe, General, as I ride on with new soldiers to do my duty.

And take care of Oleanna, if she’ll let you.

View
Athens, GA
Cam

One thing after another after another. We never seem to catch a break.

Miami, part entirely too many
Thank whoever for Ruth and Alpha. We’d be dead if not for them.

Just when I was starting to think we’d sent our only legitimate friend packing (out of necessity, of course), another one comes crashing out of the blue to our rescue (that’d be Ruth). We found Zero… or, he found us, rather, in Vinny’s tower. (Now THAT is something I need to do some detailed notes and research on. The tower and— what did he call them— the Lost?) He threatened to obliterate our only friends thus far if Regan and I didn’t give ourselves up. What else could we do? There was nothing we could have done… so we did. I stood and stared down the barrel of a gun, aimed dead at me, seconds away from a twitch of the fingers that would’ve ended me. And just then, Ruth came to our rescue. She landed a plane on him. We booked it in the van (right! we have my baby back!) and took her to the airport, and swung around to pick up McMinton. (I’m not apologetic because it isn’t my fault, but I do feel some pity for him. He’s been thrown into this, been decommissioned, and has had to leave his family. I can’t blame him for being a little angry, but he’s going to have to get used to the way we do things. At least he isn’t missing any pieces yet.)

Right. Two other important things happened before that.
We picked up Wheeler and McMinton for keeps, and we ended what we started with Rodney. I… I can’t shake what Zero said to me, right before he pointed that barrel at me. That Rodney was my fault, that I let him get out of control. I know it isn’t true, but it shook me a little. I’m supposed to be in charge of this cell, and Regan and I are the only two left of the original four. That puts our count at three. Is that… is that my fault? Damn it. I can’t think about that. In the meantime, I’d like to be back in charge here, but it seems I can’t get a word of sense through McMinton’s head. I’ll let Wheeler tackle him for now, but one more crack about being his soldier and I’m going to cuss him a blue streak and see if his eyes bug out of his head.

Anyway, Ruth and Alpha found us a safehouse and pulled us out of Miami before Zero could pull the trigger. Ruth said she couldn’t let him do this to another crew. This must have been what happened to hers, I guess. So here we are in the middle of Fuck-Knows-Where, Georgia.

Athens
So with the phone we’ve got now, we’ve been able to get around a little better. In the meantime we’ve investigated (and by we I mean Regan) Rodney’s knife— it caused some panic, but we buried it. I still think we should’ve pitched it into the Gulf, but we did have to leave in a hurry. We’re back in business, in spite of the fact that we are supposed to be lying low. I don’t know why McMinton couldn’t have left well enough alone, he wanted to go investigate the next house over from the hunting lodge where we’re staying. He found a handful of large, armed, antagonistic Klansmen. Lovely. (He’s going to get us killed. I think he still has no clue what we come up against in this, ah, line of work.) We went and looked into the next house over, too, after Regan and Wheeler discovered a pile of college-student-soup a little ways from the house. There was something familiar about it, but I can’t put my finger on it— the body, I mean. So we trekked over to the main house over here; it’s a huge plantation house (mansion really), and apparently it’s full of humanoid… things.

A ghoulish steward of some kind opened the door, and we dropped it before anything happened (didn’t kill it though), and there were more of them, and different. The one we saw after we picked up Dylan (member of Network Zero and the Night Road, apparently) was terrifying— immensely tall, but still humanoid in shape, though the distal ends of the arms looked like smaller humanoid forms. The cranial shape was all wrong, too. These things are like under-evolved mutants, things that should’ve died out or that should never have existed at all. Here’s the thing, though: Human-Hands just picked up the butler-thing and then just shut the door.

I’m desperately curious to see if we can get them to talk. If they’re sentient… ah, hell, if they’re sentient and it turns out that they’re responsible for the pile of student we found, we’re going to have to put them down. But what I’d give to study them— to find out what exactly they are, and what it is that made them that way, and how they manage to function.

Dylan says they’re the mayor’s family, or something. So we’re going to go try to coax some information out of him. Apparently this necessitates my playing the niece of some Southern gentleman, and I’m supposed to bat my eyelashes and giggle or something.

I hate dresses.

View
Georgia Devils

That poor fucking kid…

Hard to believe, but in another world I could be some dumbass frat boy wandering around drunk, and get killed by supernaturals without ever knowing a damn thing about it.

H and I were out in the forest, meditating —okay, he was meditating, I was zoning out. Anyway, we were out in the middle of the night, and we hear something wandering through the forest. So we go check it out, and I see this kid stumbling through. A college kid, I mean, not a kid-kid. Roughly my age.

So we see this kid, and I don’t know what the hell I was thinking at the time, it wasn’t particularly coherent, but we let him be. And the next morning, we find his body, probably about 100 ft from where we left him the night before. The sludge that used to be his body, at least. Obviously a supernatural death, half-transformed skull. Nothing I’m familiar with.

Damnit.

Anyway, so we checked around next door and it’s some hideous douchebags from the KKK. Real creeps, but not the candle-kind, as far as we could tell. So we go up to the main house, and there you go, monster-load. Terrifying, but not aggressive? At least, they didn’t attack us. One of them closed the door to the house instead of lashing out. Need more info.

Met DK when the dumbshit was watching us with a videocamera. He’s with the NR and N0. Interesting guy, full of useful tidbits, especially about MS, whose family lives in that manor-house. Family, huh? I suppose it takes all kinds. Even kinds with child-hands. Ugh. And now we’re looking into MS.

Would like DM to shove the holier-than-thou attitude. Would like H to leave off with the military bullshit. Worried about C, who has been much quieter than usual. I know everything that went down with Z and R was hard on her. Hopefully she hits her stride again soon.

View
I Cannot Consent to Place in the Control of Others One Who Cannot Control Himself.
Hollis

Vocal diary of Maj. Hollis Wheeler, formerly of the 29th Infantry Division, Fort Belvoir. Ninth of May, 2012, 23:15.

I sent a letter off to Alice today, I hope she’s doing well. She should just about be finishing up her finals, I suppose, the semester ends not at all long from now. Wished her the best of luck; I understand her seminar dealt with military history and the War in April. I’m very proud of her. Sent my best to Mary Ellen and Nadine as well, naturally. They finally closed the mortgage.

It was not a long letter, I regret.

(The sound of heavy sighing and a small cough disrupts the recording, as night owls hoot in the background).

Why ever have I been brought back to Georgia? I wanted more than anything else to avoid Georgia for a good long spell ever since that jumped-up sergeant presumed I would be interested in spitting on my heritage and flag with the rest of those drunken, ignorant anti-Semites in white hoods and stained trousers. I’ve never even met this mayor but I know his type. Backwoods, ignorant men of poor breeding and worthless culture that wrap themselves in the stars and bars and think it makes them noble. Contempt, even, is too good for such men.

I considered using pseudonyms in this diary but I frankly don’t think it matters overly much. Anyone gets their hand deep enough into my coat lining to take the damn thing and I’ve got bigger concerns. So, my report.

Dr. Foxx surprises me with her fortitude, although I don’t think she trusts me just yet. Which is understandable, as far as that goes. But she didn’t panic when it came to shooting (and she shot well), and acted with good enough grace when it came to the fat man we found in the woods. He’s a resource, and she shouldn’t let her doubts force her to forsake him. An army can’t march blind.

Regan refuses to accept that he is a soldier. I ask you, what do you call a man who marches to war against the forces of darkness with hand grenades and armored vehicles and, well, let’s just say flame projection devices, if not a soldier? He lacks discipline, but that can be learned.

McMinton is a fine shot and a brave soul and there my compliments of him necessarily end. He is contrary without counterargument, he undermines my authority without putting forward alternative plans. When I give him leave to speak his mind, he glares at me angrily and says nothing, or else devolves into shouting! His romanticized view of his status as a “cop” hamstrings him, and I think even he knows it. I have long been a proponent of the fluidity of command, but only when there are suitable replacements. We will not survive this fight as a rabble. We must be a unit, an army, and I will command it until I am convinced someone else can do better. And as the general put it, “I Cannot Consent to Place in the Control of Others One Who Cannot Control Himself.”

The creatures in that house… merciful gods. Such tormented and wretched things I had never laid eyes upon in my long and colorful life. McMinton hesitates but I think our path is clear. They must be reduced to ash for one of two reasons. If this is their natural state, because it is our duty to justice and the Cause. If they are burdened with this hellish condition, then to put them down is our duty to mercy and honor.

The mayor is the key, I’m sure of it. Let’s hope he’s as dumb as most Georgians, and let’s hope Dr. Foxx knows how to flutter her eyelashes. Even if he’s not as dumb, he can hardly be less lecherous.

View
IOTA

I decided on Insane Occult Theorists Anonymous. IOTA, because there isn’t an iota of sanity between any of us.

Yeah, C didn’t appreciate my pun either.

R’s dead. Finally. Dead and burned

Z has reappeared, but only to hunt us down. Somehow not suprising. What is surprising is that we have not a fucking clue what he is, but it isn’t human. According to RK, we aren’t the first team he’s called a hit on for giving away “confidential information”. As if we told anyone anything about his organization. As if we knew anything to tell in the first place.

Anyway, RK and A got us out of there, thank god. H came along too. He’s a solid guy, stuck with C and I in an ugly place when a safe way out was staring him in the face. Picked up D along the way, poor fucker. Apparently his boss screwed him over really hard. I wonder if it would have happened, had he not gotten involved with candle-burners. Who the fuck knows, but for once it wasn’t our fault he got the shit end of the stick. We just picked him up after it all went down.

Left V’s. Left Miami. On the road to Athens, Georgia now. Better the snakes we know than the komodo dragon we don’t, I suppose.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.