The Nomad's Vigil

Letters to Cam

Hey Cam,

Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to your letters. After everything that went down before I left… Well, it took me awhile to sort things out in my own head, you know? And there’s been a lot to deal with here as well. I know we’ve spoken on the phone but there’s so much that can’t be said over an insecure line. It’s so weird to be this far away from you, after we lived practically on top of each other for so long. I miss you like crazy.

I’m sorry to hear that McMinton is still such a wild card. It’s never good to get mixed up with the Fae. Good thing that he turned them down —he wouldn’t have gotten any blood from me without a fight. Watch your back around him, and ditch him if you even think for a moment that you need to. It’d kill me if you got hurt. And I’d kill him if he hurt you.

I hope that Hollis is still solid? There’s no Night Road in Rome, as far as I can tell, so you should record his radio appearance and send it to me. Somehow I doubt he plays the mindless pop-rock that kept us awake through endless road trips. I really can’t imagine him filling in for Oracle, but I think his voice would be pretty soothing if I were running panicked through the night chasing down monsters. Does he have some sort of codename? General, Captain, perhaps? Ha.

Rome has been interesting. And nice, in a way. Also not-super-nice, because my aunt resents that I’ve come back to claim her place as the heir to the mafia-kingdom or whatever. I’m fairly sure that she hates me. Hopefully this isn’t the kind of R and J thing that comes with assassination plots. Trust me, this place has doomed romance and murder attempts written all over it.

My cousin, though, her son Julian, seems nice so far. I don’t trust him at all, but he’s helped me out a few times now. It just feels like I’m walking in halfway through one of your romance novels. Everyone has been plotting, but I don’t know what any of them want. Anyway, you wouldn’t be able to stand Julian. I know Hollis thinks I’m terrible, but Julian is even sluttier than I am. Which is completely possible, thank you very much.

Tell Hollis I say hi. What is it that he would say? Probably “Give Regan my regards”. So give Hollis my regards, whatever that means. McMinton too, I guess. I hope the Night Road is treating you all well —I’m not sure how I feel about this machine you are dealing with. “Mother”, really? That sounds creepy and sketch as hell. What does it say about me? About the Lucis? I could use some background here, if you can give me any info. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you —especially money and stuff. Since suddenly I’m rolling in it. I’ll do what I can for you.

Remember, if you need me I’ll be there as fast as possible. No matter what.

Regan

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Northbound
Cam

Regan

We’re off on another job. This time we’re hunting vampires in Canada. I’m hoping for a straightforward job, but that’s never the case, is it? I’m crashing at a motel right now while the boys are off scouting. Do you happen to get the Night Road all the way out there? If you do, you’re in for a surprise. Seems Hollis has decided he wants to host for a bit and give Oracle a break when we have downtime. In the meantime I’m listening to it to fall asleep.

McMinton has gone and gotten himself into some serious trouble. Not just any trouble, either. It’s the kind of trouble that means WE might be in trouble. He apparently found himself a fairy godmother. In exchange for “protecting his kid” she wanted things of ours, and blood from you. He didn’t take the deal, though if she’d gotten to him again I fear he would’ve. I’m still not sure we should’ve taken him on. First he’s hard to handle because he’s inexperienced and temperamental, now he’s got a fairy with her eye on us. We have no clue what she’s capable of, but if she was interested in us how the hell are we supposed to shake her? Dylan supposedly gave him some kind of anti-fairy-tracking device. But what the hell are we supposed to do about this?

I’ve had enough hunting partners go south. If he’s going to become a goddamn liability every time something brings up his kid, I’m ditching him on the side of the road and he can find his own way back. I’m tired of nearly getting myself killed for somebody who can’t toe the line, whatever line that is.

Maybe I’ll be less mad when the sun comes up and I’ve got coffee in hand.
Either way, hope things are all right on your end. Stay safe.

—Cam

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Northern Dispatch
Hollis

Vocal diary of Maj. Hollis Wheeler, formerly of the 29th Infantry Division, Fort Belvoir. 28th of June, 2012, 06:12

I shall keep this brief, as I have a meeting with Alice to attend in a few hours and shouldn’t keep her waiting. And I need to perhaps have a little visit to her beau, just a look around after our meeting to ensure all is as it should be. Nevertheless, our situation merits a short dispatch.

My suspicions about Oracle are, though not confirmed in their entirety, mostly upheld by what he revealed to me. Not a fetch, then, not a mirror darkly of dyDylan Kent, but something else. He made a poor bargain, and that’s not the half of it.

I fear that Daniel has been approached by something far beyond his ken, but that he dealt with it like he deals with most threats: pigheaded righteousness. In this case it served him fairly well against the “fairy godmother”. A Fae, a True Fae. She warned me about them. I must be vigilant around Dan these days. I must say, however, his form is improving slightly. And there’s no doubting his natural dexterity with the blade. Given time I think he’ll make a fine swordsman.

Dr. Foxx is still a little subdued by the departure of Regan, I daresay, and I can’t blame her. She did not take the news of Danny’s… standing offer with an overabundance of grace or sympathy, sad to relate. She doesn’t trust slowly, she trusts at a veritable glacial pace, she does. Well, again, I can’t blame her.

I need to pick up a guitar case, today, cliche though this particular emulation of gangster era sartorial accoutrement is. Can’t think why I never bought one before, actually. Makes things much simpler.

A few stray observations before I sign off:

—That rabid dog Earl has leashed ought to be put down and sooner rather than later. He’s a damned menace to civilians and hunters alike, and he’s unstable.

—The piece of paper Oracle passed on to me… doesn’t fit her usual pattern. Perhaps if we’re not in a rush out of Montreal we could stop in New Hampshire, take a look around.

—Oracle has broached the subject of my hosting a radio program. I… admit I’ve found something of a knack for it. Next time I’m in base I may just sit and spin a few discs. Hah! I rather like the idea.

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Down Another Road We Go
Cam

Regan

It’s weird not having you around, you know that? (Granted, we spent a while attached at the hip for fear of death, but still.) We’ve been given the tour of the facilities at the Night Road headquarters, and it’s ENORMOUS. They gave us our own rooms at the base and everything.
The place is linked to several other of the Road’s bases; it’s high tech AND magical, of all things. I’m dying to find out how some of this stuff works, and I have access to the very best way to do that—her name is MoTHeR, and she’s the most high-tech supercomputer I’ve ever seen. All I have to do is ask for something and she pulls up any and every bit of information on it. Just for a test I asked her about a couple of things.

Turns out Rat Boy was in fact real, and Alex (you remember her, right? Insane hunter girl?) killed him the day we left Boca Raton.

There’s files on all of us, bios and pictures and things. There’s also files on Rodney (dead) and Sunny (dead), but not on Demarion. He was too new to be on the grid, I suppose. There’s files on you and the Lucifuge (hope the witch hunters aren’t giving you too much trouble), one on me (including the article I published on Rat Boy), and a pretty sizeable one on Hollis and his previous crew.

I can’t wait to see what else she’s got. I have questions about SO many things, and I’m looking forward to having access to all that information.

We got shown around by the man himself— Oracle, that is— he’s a rather frail older man who resembles Dylan a little. He’s very nice and gave us extensive answers to questions, unlike a certain former employer. In spite of my initial suspicion, I think I’m actually going to like it here.

I miss you, though. Hope Rome is treating you well, and that you’re in safe hands with your family. I hear the Malleus Maleficarum is a bitch to deal with. Stay safe, okay?

Cam

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As One Lamp Lights Another, Nor Grows Less
Hollis

[This diary entry is muffled somewhat by loud classical music. Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade is in its second movement, The Kalendar Prince.]

Vocal diary of Maj. Hollis Wheeler, formerly of the 29th Infantry Division, Fort Belvoir. 20th of June, 2012, 22:00

Well, it was more than ten years at this job before I signed on with another man’s army. I’m not ashamed of that. But looking back, now, perhaps there was a touch of pride that kept me from enlisting before now. A certain rebelliousness or egotism, a notion that I could command better than any other I’d met. That was true, as far as it went, until I met these people.

The body of knowledge that they possess is… formidable. No, more than that, astonishing. Instants pass and questions that have plagued me for years are answered in the clipped tones of a synthetic voice! Dr. Foxx was beside herself with joy at the sight of the new machine and I can’t blame her. Can’t in the least. Children in candy stores have exercised more restraint. Even Daniel was impressed, although his analog was the firing range. Boys with their toys. I have a distinct feeling, now that it occurs to me, that Dan McMinton has never been shot. Shot at, probably, but guns lose much of their cachet once they have turned a sizable portion of your body into red pulp. Certainly worked on me back in the Balkans.

Their field commander is a man of powerful intellect, personal fortitude and, above all, iron conviction. His plan is one with which I can agree, and the ideologies that seem to motivate him seem, at first impression, to be noble. I respect him, although I can’t help but wonder if it is safe to be making this recording in here. Even with the music playing I expect they have listening equipment of great sophistication. That’s a risk I’ll take.

Dylan Kent has demonstrated a more somber side of himself here, quite possibly influenced by Oracle’s illness. The resemblance between the two of them has persuaded, I think, Dr. Foxx and Danny that they are related. I half agree with that.

I already miss Regan, I frankly admit it. He was growing so much, so quickly. It would have been a true pleasure to see him continue to do so. But blood is thicker than water, and most is not laced with brimstone. He did his duty to his family and cause. I will never condemn him for that. I’m proud.

Need to write another letter to Alice, soon. Perhaps, if our work takes us towards Montreal, I could visit. God, I would love that more than anything. Maybe I could meet this new beau as well, put the fear of God into him. Or of me, anyway. Hah!

Meanwhile, I’m more than happy to unpack my things, settle in, and listen to my music for a while. You know, this radio station pitch of Oracle’s may actually be something I could pursue. You can’t recruit without a banner, after all. Worth thinking about…

[The music goes on, now in its Third Movement, the Young Prince and the Young Princess, and plays almost all the way through, when Hollis snorts with laughter.]

Unbreakable contract, they say. Enforced by magic, they say. Hmph. I’ve learned better. Really.

Such amateurs, eh, Oleanna?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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