Ren’s Journal

Amaeren Colby Decker is a character in the Torg universe created by West End Games.  This page includes the entries of her journal starting from sometime in July or August of 2008 until present time (later entries are dated).

 

The Journal

I’ve decided that they’re all completely insane. Utterly, totally, completely and irrevocably insane and God only knows why I’m still running around with them because I certainly don’t. Sometimes, I just want to put a scalpel through my eye, so little of my life makes any real sense these days.

In two months, I’ve seen more horrifying, terrifying, utterly insane things than I thought I would see in my entire career. My career. Which, I’m thinking is already over or never going to end. I’m leaning toward the latter, honestly. The odds of me ever making it back to the States are slim to none, if the States even still exist in any sort of recognizable form anymore, and signs are definately pointing in the direction of a big fat no on that count. Everything–every word that came out of there, all of it–makes me believe that none of us really have a home to go back to. Everything is different–wrong, maybe? I don’t know that there’s anything we can do to fix any of it, if it can even be fixed. And I know for a fact that there’s a whole crock of shit that’ll jump up and down in the way of actually fixing things.

I’ve begun to definately question my sanity. I wonder if maybe this is just some huge nightmare that I just can’t wake up from. Might be easier to take if it was, but something–again–tells me that it’s just not the case. Too much (pain) tells me it’s just not the case.

I find myself wondering if my mom and dad are all right, if the rest of the family’s okay. I’m still not sure where Teddy is. Guess maybe I’ll never know, but I could end up surprised. After all, some crazy British chick (excuse me, Aylish chick) apparently associated with Ace, so I guess anything’s possible. She said he’s in Philly. Wonder if I’ll ever find out if that’s true. I guess even if it’s not true, it’s nice to know that he was okay up until a couple months ago. Even if that was a couple months ago and not, y’know, yesterday.

 

A few weeks later

I’ve decided that Japan is the land of conspiracy theories and I don’t like it (and not just because they were growing the frakking Rikyoto out of the hydroponics equipment! Frakking brown scaly monsters!). Everything is just too clean, almost sterile, hiding the festering wounds, the rot beneath. But we could smell the stink–I could, anyhow.

I just wish that they’d been brainwashing people, like I thought they’d been, rather than using them as mulch (frakking Japanese getting into bed with the frakking technodemons!). I’m starting to hate being three quarters right. I really am.

One of these days, one of these little volunteer exercises (missions? Assignments? Exercises in destroying my sanity or broadening my horizons? Bah), I’m going to snap. Or actually try to get knocked unconscious (though I wasn’t trying to this last time…I’m not going to lie to myself and pretend that it was unwelcome, the whole getting knocked cold by a glance from Rei’s ex…lover? Something. I’m almost glad that I haven’t fraternized with anyone since Mac at Annapolis!). One or the other, anyway.

God, though, sooner we get the hell out of Japan the happier I’ll be (I can’t get the smell of drywall out of my nose, no matter how much I sneeze). It’s not the place I remember from when I was a kid (What is, though, these days? Nowhere, I’ll bet). When I was a kid, there were at least trees, and no plants driving any power armor.

God, it occurs to me that if anyone finds this thing after I’m gone they’re going to think I’m crazy and made this shit up.

Unless it’s another–gah, what’d she call them? Storm Knight? I think that’s it. If another one of those finds this…well, at least they’ll learn something. And maybe not think I’m crazy, or was crazy, or something.

Maybe. Possibly.

Or I’m right, this isn’t real, just some kind of crazy nightmare I can’t escape, which is equally likely. Just not sure.

I think of the guys I left behind sometimes, of the ones who died since the world changed, too. I remember a chilly June day when we buried Lucasi (God, it was cold for June–couldn’t have been more than 55º and it rained for a week straight. Had to bury him twice, rain washed out the grave after the first one). I think about Peter, too. Hope he’s okay. He was pretty far from the affected zones from those stelae, though, so he’s probably fine. It’s just lonely sometimes now. I was in the field too much to really get to know anyone at the new base very well–socially, at least. We all knew each other’s work. That research, I’m afraid, will never be finished. I’m beginning to think that may be for the best, though. The list of bad things grows the longer I’m away. I’m not sure if that should frighten me or not. Maybe it’s both. God only knows.

At least it’s been more than confirmed to me that the pope is crazy–beyond reasonability kind of crazy. A little sad, I think, but I suppose there’s not a whole hell of a lot to be done for it, is there? At least not for most. For most (well, I doubt anyone’s lives are still usual but still) it’s all about business as usual.

 

Several weeks later, in Japan

Yuri got chewed on by a vampire. Go figure.

Balthazar lives in the computer. What the frak. He exists inside the Tachicoma. God.

I think I am going insane.

If I haven’t yet, I think it’s coming soon.

We’re suppoesd to find someone in Cairo, now, named Operator Five, so we can find Caspar (Gaspar? something like that). The Wraith apparently kidnapped him. Or something.

The other realities are eating my world, dammit.

Need the Starfire Wheel back.

Grr.

9 September 2008 – Egypt (Nile Empire)

God. I hate this.

How the hell does this dress stay on?

Don’t get me started on Zachary. If that was Zachary. If.

Grounded. Just…grounded.

1 October 2008

Pretty sure that was Zach. So much grounded.

Lady Domino had a husband. He thinks I’m her.

Frak.

I need sleep. And real clothes. ASAP. Sleep first. Clothes later.

The hell is Operator Five? Need to talk to him soon. And need to find Grace. Badly.

2 October 2008

The more I’m around that man, the more I learn, the less able I am to…to what?  Tell it like it is?  I did, though, and I feel

I feel awful.  How could I?  Who was I to say all that?  But he needed to know.  He deserved to know I wasn’t her.  Who knows?  Maybe the poor broken thing will find her alive.

When did I decide he was a broken thing?  I know I started to feel bad for the guy sometime yesterday, before I decided to just get toally hammered and let the chips fall where they may.  He’s just…I don’t know.  There’s something in there I saw for a flicker, for a heartbeat before it was gone again.  And then, the dumbass that I am, I let him go.  I let him jump out of a frakking moving car in the middle of the desert.  Have I just totally…

I think so.  I really think so.

He must really love her that much.  Maybe someday I’ll find someone like that.  I doubt it.  Pretty sure I’m not that lucky.

I just feel so bad for him.  It’s not pity, I don’t think.  It’s something else, something different.  I can…there’s just something hurting him inside and while I don’t think that I’m here to fix it (maybe that was her job?) but I want to.  God, do I want to.

No one does what he does without there being a reason, and damned if I don’t want to know what that reason is.  There’s a reason he hides, a reason…which is real?  Which face is the real one?  Grant Stockbridge, or the Spider?  Too depressing to be one all the time, but still.  I just keep wondering, keep thinking about it.

God.  I will never forgive myself if he dies because of what I said, because of what I did.  Maybe I should’ve–

No.  Couldn’t have let him live a lie like that.  Besides, it would’ve made me crazy.  I’d have done something worse.  Maybe.

God.  I just don’t know.  I don’t know anything anymore, it seems like.  This just wasn’t the way life was supposed to go, the way it was supposed to be–for me or for anyone.  This hell.  This hell we’re all living in.  It’s just…made to break people.  To shatter them.

None of this is fair.  They’re good people.  Why do bad things happen to good people?  I just can’t understand it.  They’re catching more than their fair share of shit to be flung around.  I can’t stand it anymore.  I just can’t.

I just hope whoever makes it through this understands.  Hell.  I hope whoever I am by the end understands.  One way or another.  One way.

It has to stop.  It just does.

One way or another, I’m going to make it stop.  Because someone has to and it might as well be me.

 

7 October 2008

It’s hard to leave Egypt without knowing. Not even the other Mystery Men know where he is, what he’s up to. Worse, I’m breaking my promise to him, which is a thing I never intended, something I hate. But they make it sound like if we don’t get the Wheel back now, hope dies. Hope can’t die, so there’s no choice. We go into the lion’s den to steal back what Caspar intended for us to use against these…these crazy dark forces that seem consistently arrayed against us.

Is this what it’s like to be a hero? Like in all those movies, in the comic books? They never really let you know how agonizing it really is. You see it, but that’s so different from feeling it. From living it.

Hop Marcus doesn’t get stuck in a life like this. A boring life. That’s what he needs. A safe life–that’s what he deserves.

Then again, I guess he deserves a choice in the matter.

I’m just so tired. It’s been exhausting, the edges are frayed, ragged. I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to be able to keep myself together, how much longer before I finally break, once and for all. Before I’m just…done. Call it quits. Unload on someone in a bad way–or worse, retreat. That’s the last thing I or anyone else needs at this point. I need to be here, and be here now. If that means I keep hiding–I guess that’s what it means. I keep burying myself and we all stay alive. Everyone stays alive and the world doesn’t end tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the day after that.

One foot in front of the other. Get the job done. What other choice is there? None that I can see. Light, maybe, at the end fo the tunnel going on forever.

I begin to wonder if I’ll ever make it to the end.

19 October 2008 – en route to Indonesia (Orrorsh)

Rei‘s making me batshit crazy. Girl needs a Gameboy and some batteries. Lots of batteries. Her obsession with that damn iPhone borders on it being clinical. I’m not a psychologist. I don’t pack those kinds of meds. I’m not even sure I’m comfortable with the idea of our misadventures being plastered all over the internet to begin with. Don’t know why it bugs me, though. Not like anyone back home can actually read it–if they even thought to go looking. I’m not sure anyone would.

Damn it, Zach. The hell are you doing?

We’re going to Indonesia–to Borneo. To where no one’s heard from since…

Since before New York.

Since before EVERYTHING.

WHAT THE HELL ARE WE THINKING?

That’s right, we’re not. Doesn’t matter. The Wheel. Hope.

We’re the only hope?

The Wheel?

God. We’re so screwed. We’re all screwed. We don’t even have a PLAN. All we have is the Wraith, Alex Bendis. That’s it. And he worked for them! I don’t think we’re walking into a double cross. I hope we’re not.

If we are, I’ll actually feel bad for shooting the bastard. Not entirely his fault, after all.

Whoever’s out there is bad. Worse than that creepy crown. And that scares the shit out of me, because I’m pretty sure that frown was pure evil.

I’ve no desire to dance with the devil, even if I’m calling the tune. This thing, whatever it is, has GOT to be evil incarnate.

Is there something worse than evil?

Shit. I don’t even want to think about it.

11 November 2008 – Indonesia (Orrorsh)

Rei Kuroishi died 1547 Zulu 11 November 2008 at unknown location in Indonesia.

11 November 2008 – Unknown location (Kadandra)

We made it out alive. Mostly. I hope.

 

11 November 2008 – Nebraska, US (Core Earth) [actually 4 March 2009]

I never want to go back to Kadandra again. Thank god we’ve made it out alive. Thank GOD. They were going to keep us there. Keep us. As if I didn’t tell them we were trying to save my frakking world. As if they couldn’t give two shits about any world but their own. But how could that be? Why would they have sent Alex’s team through to my world if they didn’t care? What happened there to make them stop giving a shit?

Why should I even give a damn? If they’re not going to help us, what good are they? I mean really. What good is a planet full of hyperadvanced bratty CHILDREN going to be to us if they’re not being channeled in a positive direction? Seems like there’s some sort of resistance movement, a rebellion. Something. Are the Knives of Artemis part of it? Someone in a stealth rig decided to care. Decided to help. But why? Who was it?

What are we going to owe them in return for the help they gave us?

I just don’t know anymore. Everything I’ve seen just brings it home to me that one way or another…we just don’t have many places to turn for help. Who do we have? Tolwyn, who has a royal bloodline to guard first. Yuri, who probably–definately?–has his own agenda. The Mystery Men, who have their own problems, too. And Alex–Wraith–who definately has his own agenda. He might not even live to pursue it. We might have gotten him killed when we dragged him to Borneo with us. A giant spider hated on him.

Basjass? Is that what Tyche called it? Something like that. She hates him and decided to do something about it and poisoned him. I have no idea if I can save him, either. But I have to try. I have to try. The shit I pumped into him seemed like…well. I don’t know if it did any good. Probably didn’t do much of anything. But the Kadandrins didn’t do him any favors, either–I’m sure of that much.

I’m in no position for a case study of what contradictory realities do inside a person. I just want to fix his sorry ass and get rid of this feeling of guilt I’m carrying around. I should be able to DO something, dammit. But what can I do? my drugs don’t do any good for him. I can’t even analyze the poison–the venom. For all I know (the Kadandrins, too) it’s a supernatural poison and he’s going to die no matter what I do. But I can’t stop trying to help him, even if he IS a bastard I suspect was going to double-cross us at the most inopportune moment. I’m a doctor. No matter how vile someone is…it’s my job.

I just don’t want to fail him after he helped us get the Wheel and get us out of there alive. I don’t want the bastard to die. He doesn’t deserve it. not after what he did for us. Not with this chance at redemption lying at his feet.

He could ahve betrayed us a thousand times, but he didn’t. He didn’t. And we repay him by getting him killed? I don’t think so. Not on my frakking watch.
I hope Fred’s okay. Hope he got out of that palce. Somewhow. I hope. I pray. Poor Odette. How could we haev left him behind? How? Grace said don’t lose hope. Maybe he’s okay. Maybe he got out. But how? HOW? And when will we know whether or not he’s okay? Not like he knows how to use a phone. Not like we’re exactly easy to find.

God, I hope he doesn’t run into that witch-hunter by himself.

…I hope we don’t run into that witch hunter without HIM.

Everything’s just so messed up. How are we going to fix it? How am I going to fix it? I understanda fraction of “reality physics.” I understand a fraction of what’s going on.

Why the hell–how the hell–did I get picked for a “save-the-world” squad? I keep wondering that and I’ve got no answers. I guess I should assume it’s a good sign that I’m not insane or dead, that I haven’t run screaming in terror. I’ve wanted to. Every time I see a field of people planted like wheat, I want to. If I see something like that again, it’ll be too soon. Don’t know how I kept it together in Borneo. Outside of that Ill-Matter Keep place, there was just this huge field, just like in Germany. Just like it, but someone was taking care of the place. And not in the way I’d like them to be “taken care of.” If I had a cohice, I’d have every field like that carpet-bombed. Just let them burn. I’ll take the charnel house smell over those fields.

How the HELL could Grace have thought it would be a good idea to SLEEP there? For someone who’s supposed to be really smart…

Tyche didn’t want to go inside, and I can understand why. Oh, sure, main level was okay enough I guess. The lady who answered the door seemed perfectly okay–seemed being the operative word. I don’t think anything at that place, at least on that main level, was what it seemed to be. Below was where it all got interesting.

Not sure if that secret door sensed us or if Amarant touched something after we told him not to. Not sure it really matters one way or another, really. Either way, we got in to get what we needed.

What if HE let us down?

Not sure I like the thought of that. There was this man down below th emain level. It was like evil oozed out of the walls and out every pore in that room. There was this obsidian heart and it was beating.

Beating.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

I get goosebumps thinking about it, and not in a good way.

And then there was this cadaverous man in an old-time preacher-man’s frock being pulled apart and remade by a very isolated reality storm.

If I see crap liike that again, it’s going to be too soon. You could TASTE the evil.

And Grace asked if we should try to help him.

The 17th must not have been one of her smarter days.

I wasn’t going to tangle with that. It felt about 100 times worse than that crown in Aysle. You’d think that we’d know better than to tangle with crap like that.

Then again, she’s from Nile. I understand just enough of how crap there works to fake it and not much else. I think I’m almost glad I don’t understand more.

I don’t need any more battles I can’t win.

God, Grant, please be okay. I won’t be able to forgive myself if I’ve gotten you killed somehow.

At least we got the Starfire Wheel. And killed Tezveroch–Tyche got to make him her bitch once and for all.

How Odette called down holy fire like that, I’m not really sure. Better not to ask. She’s traumatized enough.

Wings on the angel. Who would have thought?

Amarant still lost an arm in the mix, though. In a twisted way, I guess it’s GOOD we ended up on his homeworld. At least he’s back to a level of functionality.

How functional that really is remains to be seen.

5 March 2009

Apparently, it’s March. Yesterday’s entry should have been dated the 4th, but I’m not changing it.

I wish there was something we could do for these people, something more than we’ve already done. I don’t know where we’ll go from here, but I know we can’t stay. Staying…well, staying would break us eventually. We can’t continue to endanger these people with our presence, either. Strange things seem to happen around people like us.

6 March 2009

Effing Knives! The belts weren’t Kadandrin. Nile tech! They were Nile technology–or something. When I–

No. No, there’s too much else to worry about. Too much else at stake. These people need someone to give them their hope back…and I guess that’s going to be us. No one else can.

It’s all we can do for what’s left of my father’s constituency. For what’s left of my country.

It’s all I can do.

 

8 March 2009

Shit. Booth is dead and I’m in charge. I haven’t been so damn tired at the end of two days since I did my last ER rotation in med school. But I’m so damned wired I can’t sleep. Who could? It’s not standard stuff we’re dealing with here.

At least they didn’t try to hit again. I think Odette scared the living shit out of them. I hope she did. maybe they’ll steer clear of her–and this place–in the future.

Can’t leave that to chance, though. We’ll come up with some absolutely awful-terrible idea and we’ll rush out and probably get ourselves killed, but in the end…well. Either we’ll die and make no difference, or we’ll make a difference. It’s like using a bucket to enpty the ocean. In the grand scheme of things, no one’s going to notice.

I can’t throw these people to the wolves, though. They’re all that’s left of the America I swore to defend.

Situation normal–all frakked up. Just a little bit more frakked than usual.

I’m just not sure how I’m supposed to fit into this grand mess. None of us are, of course, but I feel it most strongly because this is home. America is home, regardless of where I was born or where I grew up or went to school or anything like that. This is home and it’s just so messed up beyond my ability to fix.

Or is it? Probably. But I have to try. There has to be something I can do. Of course, I have no idea what it is. But in the end…does anyone?

I don’t have any answers. I don’t think I ever did, or ever will. I’ve got to do something, though.

In the end, who else can? Andrew’s off doing whatever the hell he does–assuming he’s even still alive. Can’t think of anyone else on the continent that could even begin to be of any help at all.

Unless, of course, the cavalry in some form or another arrives. But I’m thinking if the Army could do a damn thing for the area, it’d have been done by now.

I can pray I’m wrong about that, though. Doesn’t hurt. Just can’t get my hopes up.

I only end up crushed when they come plummeting down. Always.

I hope Fred’s okay. I hope Grant’s okay.

I hope and I hope and I hope…

God grant it that I’ve been heard, that fervent prayers really are answered. If wishes were horses, we’d be driving a herd–two herds–into the Holnist camp and trampling them into the dust and ashes that are all that’s left of the American Dream.

I keep wondering at what point exhaustion will take its toll. Has it already? God only knows. With this crew, a strange look really isn’t an indicator of much of anything. They give me strange looks all the time.

Why do I keep writing this thing anyway? No one’s ever going to read it. If I survive, well. I’ll probably destroy it in the end, unless someone can make a good case for me not to. There’s just so much here…

Half of it would get me commited, if the world hasn’t gone batshit crazy eleven months ago.

It is what it is. All I have left are the crazies I’m with and the crazies we’ve abandoned.

God have mercy on us all. No one else will.

Please, please let them be okay.

21 March 2009 – somewhere east of the Mississippi River (Living Land)

Well, we left Grace’s family there. Hopefully nothing’s going to explode because we left. Hopefully.

We’ve been in this jungle for five minutes and I already don’t liike it. In fact, I’m pretty sure I hate it.

Nothing for it. We have to get to Philadelphia somehow and I’m pretty sure this is the only way.

30 March 2009 – Philadelphia, PA (Core Earth)

Made Philly.

They’re alive. Andrew, Grant, Fred…they’re all alive. I won’t say safe, but at least they’re alive, and that’s enough for me right now, all things considered. I think I’ll take whatever I can get right now. Some things fall apart but others somehow come together.

I’ll take what I can get.

Maybe the Eidenos aren’t that bad, either. Not all of them, anyway. Enoch was actually not such a bad guy, in the end. He helped a lot.

There are some things bothering me, though. A lot of things, really. The Order of Cincinnatus…if it existed here, did it exist on other worlds, too? On the twisted reflections? I don’t know. Haev no way of knowing shy of asking. Do I dare ask? How much time is there before we leave again? Less than a day, I’d guess. The stuff with the fey in Asyle seems pretty time-critical. That means I don’t have a lot of time to learn, or to ask.

How long have they been talking? Since he left Indonesia with Fred? Before? I have no idea what I’ll do if it was before.

Nothing makes sense anymore. Did anything ever make sense in the first place? Maybe a year ago. Maybe…

It’ll be good to see them again. We just have to survive that long. Easier said than done sometimes, I think.

Ace doesn’t know anything about our parents. Maybe he fears the worst, too. I wonder…I wonder if Dad or Mom was part of the order. Won’t know until I ask.

I hope Zach’s okay. Another thing I’ll have to ask about I guess. If he even knows.

Of course…him knowing would probably explain the stealth rig. That could have come from Mara…I don’t know. Don’t know what to make of any of it. It’s just this big jumble that I have to sort through.

What if Odette was a triple cross?

Oh god. What if it was?

Doesn’t matter. Next stop after England, one way or another, is France. At some point, things will make sense and at some point, sins will either be forgiven…or the guilty will be punished.

Jerusalem. Why Jerusalem?

What is this Order of Cincinnatus…and why wasn’t I ready when I left…but which “when I left?”

How long has he been pulling the strings? How long has he been…been looking for us? Watching us?

He can be so bloody hard to read sometimes, and I’ll admit I didn’t think to care to look to see if he was surprised to see us. I was just too happy to see him again, to see some member of my family that’s not just going to run off, to bail on me. Someone alive.

Of course, he’s sending us thousands of miles away. Not for a bad reason, but still.

Guess you just have to make the msot of the time you get to have.

I can’t believe it took me twenty-eight years to realize that.

What if I never see him again, after today? There’s too much we’ve never said, never asked, never told. I don’t know what I’d do.

I haven’t known what to do in nearly a year. Not since this whole thing started. I just keep reacting. I don’t even know if I’m reacting well. I’m probably not. I’m scared. I’ve been scared since day one. There’s something I’ve got to do to help–I’ve always known that much. I’m afraid of how high the cost will get, though. Terrified of how high the cost will get.

What happens if we can make things go back to “normal”? I don’t think normal exists anymore. No, I know that it doesn’t exist anymore. Too much has changed. Too many have seen too much.

But what can I do? There’s something better than this. Something better than the way we’re living now. The way we’re surviving.

How do we get there? What are we trying to get to?

There’s just so much I don’t know. I used to think that we were fighting to get things back to normal. But if normal doesn’t exist anymore, then we must be fighting for something else. More than our right to continue. But what? Utopia? I’m not sure that can ever be. I’m almost sure it can’t be. Something better than what we had? Probably–definately. Maybe this was the slate-clearing event we needed to give us a fresh start. A chance.

Why is it always that something awful has to happen before we get a chance at making something better happen? That we get the chance at real change, a saving change?

Of course…there’s the possibility of failure. It’s just not an option.

God, I’m just afraid that I’m not going to live to see this through. I was never this afraid of dying, except for maybe in Japan, or Indonesia.

The witch hunter…

Shit. That wouldn’t be a good thing to run into at all. But we probably won’t.

Why would the pope send a hunter after someone working for him? What the hell is afoot here? What game are they playing at?

Notihng makes sense anymore. What could they be trying to do? What does she think the Wheel will do? Even I’m not completely sure how it works.

This whole thing is going to end so poorly.

He just seems to tired and he’s got nowhere to turn. I don’t know what I can do to help him. I can’t stay here to help him. I know I can’t. There’s too much to be done elsewhere. At the same time, he’s going to end up running himself into the ground, killing himself if he keeps on doing what he’s been doing. I can’t let that happen, either.

I tell him this war belongs to me, too. All he tells me is to come back alive.

God, what am I going to do?

Come back alive, I guess. Fight the good fight. Business as usual.

There has to be something more that I can do, though. But what? I guess I’ll figure it out. One way or another. I always seem to. I just hope I figure something out before it’s too late. For everyone, and for everything.

I have to tell Andrew to warn them. If he talks to them before they leave Jerusalem. I have to tell him to warn them that I think it’s a trap.

I think it’s a trap, but we have to go in case I’m wrong.

I hope I’m wrong.

7 April 2009

Made listening post in Canada.

Flying out to England (Europe?) later tonight.  Canada’s warmer than I remember it being.  Then again, so was Nebraska.

Uneventful, safe trip.  That’s all I want.  It’d be nice.  Something tells me, though, that it’s not going to happen.

I can always hope, though.  There’s always hope.

There has to be.  If there’s not…what am I here for?

I have to load up a new kit.  Get a vest.  Quick.

So much is lost…what will we have left to build from?

Little enough.  But something, and that’s better than nothing at all.

8 April 2009

Aysle is boned. London is beseiged. If we’re going to preserve the one recognizable, tangible victory we’ve had in the last twelve months, we can’t let London fall and we can’t sit still, either. If we can’t find Mab to renew the wardings on the Ayslish Darkness Device (Draconis), the victory Tolwyn won here will be nothing but a memory–and a memory that we may not be able to recreate. I don’t know what this is going to mean across the board and not for the first time am I wondering wheather or not we can actually succeed at what we’re setting out to do. It’s one of those things we can’t fail at, though. We just can’t fail. It’s not an option.

Seems like we run into a lot of situations like that.  We always seem to end up coming out of it okay, though.  I guess I shuldn’t complain.  I just keep wondering, though, when our luck’s giong to finally run out.  It will eventually.  I just hope it doesn’t lead to anything catastrophic.

I have to have faith that it won’t.  That’s about all I have to cling to at this point.  Faith that the path I’m on is the right one.  Faith that there’s some sort of guardian angel watching over me that isn’t going to let me down if I don’t let myself down.  Hope that some good will come from hell.  Some good has to come from this.  If it doesn’t, then what’s the point to fighting?  Everything happens for a reason–there’s always some kind of point to things.  I don’t have to know what the reasons are to know that they’re out there.  They must be.

 

24 April 2009

From six, we are now four. We lost Tyche and Amarant today. I’m not happy about it, but at least they got a vote in the matter. Tyche’s gone into the Realm of Magic to stay with Queen Mab and Nicodemus and honestly most of the rest of her people. I guess I can’t blame her for it. Her realm is as “safe” as it’s going to get. I just can’t help but feel a little abandoned, a little betrayed. what about the rest of us? At leats Amarant’s sacrifice was noble. I just hope it meant something. He’s become a living barrier between the Realm of Magic and the material world–and sealed Draconis again. All I can do is hope that tihngs don’t get fouled up again.

I’m not sure how much more loss we can take at this point.  Of the original five–six with Rei included–we’ve lost four.  That leaves Grace and I still fighting to save the woorld.  I just…I just don’t know if we can do it.  I don’t know what this means.  Is everything screwed up now?  What if we can’t do what we’re meant to do now?  I just feel so powerless, like I should have been able to stop them, keep things together.  Guess I’m not that great of a leader after all.

Grant showed up in time to save my ass from getting smashed into a paste today.  Now I’m sitting here in a blanket and a borrowed nightshirt with my tea and wondering what the hell I’m going to do about him and everything else.  We’re committed to go to France, but now what good are we goign to be able to do there?

But we have to get Fred.  We can’t abandon him.

I can’t go through this again.  I just can’t.

Am I going to end up in his arms again tonight?  I just don’t know.  Not about anything anymore.

What did I do on Avalon?  How did I do it?  How did I know how?

Am I really Allison, or is she me?  Or both?  Was I right?  When she died, did a part of her come to me?  I don’t know.  The person who might have had some idea is gone now, not that I could have ever brought it up to him in the first place.

What am I going to do?  What am I going to do?

What am I going to DO?

I haven’t been this sore since Basic.  He wasn’t kidding when he said I was going to use muscles I didn’t realize I had.  It was just like learning to be a frakking Jedi but more physically strenuous.  I shuld get to bed, I’ve gotta be up at the crack for more of the same.

They called it Fatestay, he told me.  They listened to the “calling of the heart” and let it guide them.  The heart, the whisperings, reaching out with…the soul?  Using the heart as a real weapon.  That’s how he described it.

Love and compassion are only going to get me so far.  That’s what I decided.  I also decided the only way I was going to be able to help him was to learn how he–how they–operated.

They met in some improvised cell or something back on Terra and almost didn’t escape alive.  That’s how they got started.

I wish I knew more about her.  maybe if I did, I could avoid whatever mistakes she made that ended her life.

I wish I knew more about him.  What’s behind the mask he wants everyone to think is his face?

I’m not going to let him down the way she did.

26 April 2009

Me and my big mouth.  I should’ve gone after him, but who am I to disturb his solitude, disrupt his mourning?  But god, why can’t he see why I want to know?  He’s not always going to be here to try to save me from my mistakes.

He’s already missed out on a few big ones.  How could I be so stupid?  How could I be so blind?  Sweet little thing…a viper we clutched to our breast.  God, I hope that this is all part of some kind of plan to topple the Pope.  If it’s not, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

He’s sharp.  Very sharp.  We’re going to need him.  I just…I don’t think I can think like that.  I’m not prevaricating.  Well, not that prevaricating.  I’m a suspicious, paranoid bitch, but I’d rather see the best in people.  I can’t keep doing that, though.  It’s just going to get us killed.  It will.  And it’d be my fault.

All my fault.

What would Andrew do if something happened to me?  I might as well be all he’s got.

God, and I left him.  Forgive me.  Just forgive me.

I’ve made so many mistakes–especially in the last few weeks.  I can’t keep doing that.  There are lives at stake.

I’m a frakking doctor.  What the hell am I doing?

I’m a frakking Marine.  And I’m going to fight them until I can’t.

DeSoto needs us.  I’m not going to let his death be on my conscience.  I can’t live with that.  I won’t live with that.  We need him and we need his Templars for what’s ahead.  And we’ll have them.

I’m going to make sure of that or die trying.

4 May 2009

Avignon is nothing more than a walled-off cauldron teeming with disease and vermin-ridden humanity. We made the city this morning and it took the better part of the day to make it to quarters. This is really the first chance I’ve had to write and feel relatively safe about doing so. The trip through France has been so, so long and not at all easy. We came down along the border with Germany. So many villages half destroyed…why weren’t we there to help? Has so much changed since I was taken? It’s part of our job to help these people.

Are they all dead? Did they suffer the fate I was rescued from? What happened to all of them? I keep wondering, keep remembering what itw as like. And these people here, they truly believe that the technodemons are some sort of hellspawn. Maybe they are. I’ve no way of knowing. These knights, though, these knights that are going to march off on Crusade against them…they’re all going to die. They’ll march in with their courage, their chivalry and honor and be like lambs to the slaughter. And there’s naught to be done for it. Nothing I can do.

There was a zepplin docked south of the city, near the coast, when we arrived–big and red, just sitting there. Mable and Grant said it looked right for Nile, but Grant said it wasn’t his–they didn’t have any dirgibles in Jerusalem.

They came up with a plan to maybe get a lead on Frederico. I just hope I’m up to the challenge. Mable’s going to pretend to faint before the pope’s speech begins–he’s calling the Crusade tomorrow, and we’re all expected to come listen. Grace and I are going to escort her away and hopefully find an unattended terminal that I’ll be able to access.

I really wish Amarant were here. I’m not that great with computers. Good enough to get into some trouble, but not much more. But Mei’s the only other person who has half a clue what a computer is, so I’m stuck since her absence from the speech would definately be noticed.

Grant’s barely spoken to me since we got here. I wish I could believe it was only the circumstances. Pretending to be Mable’s husband and all. But I get the distinct impression it’s more than that.

I shouldn’t have said what I said.

Too late to take it back now, though. Just hope the chill thaws sometime…soon. I’m just not sure what to do. I’m…I’m no good at these sorts of things. I’m really not.

I wanted to make his hurting stop even when I first met him. How is it that i just keep making it worse?

Maybe Mable will have some more insight. She’s known him longer.

What would Allison do? Of course, I don’t think she’d have gotten herself into a mess like this. But if she did, what would she do?

Ha, I think I know. Of course it involves that damn dress and a smile.

Maybe I should sneak into bed with him for warmth? No, he wouldn’t believe that. Because I’m scared? No, that won’t work either. He’ll see right through it, or think I’m even less capable of taking care of myself. Either way, not going to work.

Say I’m sorry? I already did that once. Didn’t seem to do much good. Sure, we bantered–in front of everyone else. Anything less than me being ornery in several directions at once is abnormal. Grace and Albert–and I think Mei by now–know that.

‘course, Grace knows something’s bothering me. Better she thinks it’s what I saw along the border–or whatever she’s theorized–that’s got me knotted up. I shouldn’t even be considering sucking Mable into tihs, in the end. This is on me, on my shoulders. I brought it on myself and I’ll have to fix it myself.

Somehow.

 

5 May 2009

What if he’d died? What if he’d gotten himself killed like Albert did? What would I have done? What would I have done then?

How would I have figured out everything he’s never told me?

Avignon has turned into one big clusterfuck, and quickly. The good news is that we may have a way out of this god-ridden country. Happenstance (the hell? Hopped up on enough drugs to float an armada, adrenaline, empty stomach, worry and all and I still know how to use the word “happenstance?” What the hell is wrong with me?) led Grace and Mable and I to just…stumble upon this chick in a little Red Riding Hood getup while she was getting accosted by thugs. I made friends with the stonework while their hero genes kicked in…I just wish their hero genes would get on the same page.

* Note to self: talk to team about the proper use of flash-bangs and concussion grenades. *

All I can really remember after asking Mable if she was sure explosives were a good idea is shooting some thug that was pummeling Grace (how the hell was my aim that good when I was that shocky? Thanks Allison.) is beating feet out of there after a concussion grenade. And then all of a sudden we were back in our room with Little Red and I was taping up my neck and slowly realizing that this privateer was a Stormer, too, and she knew what we were (though it seemed to upset Mable every time she called her an alchemist). The zep is hers. (I wonder if the words “Order of Cincinnatus” will get us aboard and out of here? Might be worth a shot.)

The longer I keep writing, the longer I stay awake. The longer I stay awake, the further from immediate danger he gets. The longer I can watch. God, Grant, what the hell were you thinking? This is all my fault.

He looks so pale. How much did he bleed before Mei got him to me? Damn it all.

I can’t get it out of my head. One minute I’m trying to relax, half slumping toward sleep (what would have happened if I took a sedative like I should have? God.) and then all of a sudden there’s an elephant in the hallway and mei is practically kicking the door down and screaming my name.

And he’s dishrag limp in her arms with his clothes and belly in tatters and blood everywhere and my adrenaline spikes and instincts kick in and I’m doing my frakking job as I’m screaming back at her wanting to know what happened.

And all I really know is that I’m not going to let him die, not here, not now.

Especially after Albert, and Albert’s letter. There’s been too much loss there, too much pain already and I’m not going to let another bad thing happen if I can help it SO HELP ME GOD.

He is never allowed to do something that stupid ever again. A few inches difference…

But he’s alive. He’ll make it. He has to make it. We–I–can’t do this without him.

God, my head aches. If I have to try to hack the GodNet again, it’s going to be too soon. I keep hearing voices, like I didn’t completely get out–or like I took somethign with me when I escaped. But it’s weird. I keep hearing this one voice, above all the other whisperings. It says names I recognize–something abuot Kurst laughing, about talking about fate with my brother, about debating things with Father Bryce. and seeing something. Seeing something that changes the nature of the world–a third thing.

But how could they have known and recorded it so fast?

It seems so real. I must be hallucinating. It’s the drugs. Or the blood loss, or the stress. Something.

Not knowing if I’m Allison or she’s me or what’s happening to me is bad enough. I don’t need random voices out of the GodNet, too.

I should sleep but I can’t. Not yet. Not now. Just a little longer. Then I’ll be sure.

Just wish he’d wake up.

Told him I’d punch him when he did. Maybe that’s why he won’t wake up for me. Guess he also knows I’m planning to light into him about doing things he shouldn’t. I’m not sure what clawed him, but I’m pretty sure he shouldn’t have gotten within arms’ reach of it. Maybe next time he won’t. Fat chance of it, I know. But I can hope he’ll learn from the experience.

But I know he’s just going to smile at me and remind me that he didn’t in fact, get himself killed. Never mind how I’d feel if he did.

Of course…he doesn’t know how I’d feel if he did.

Something tells me that we have a lot fo talk about.

A lot to talk about.

Hopefully we’ll have a chance. Fate seems to keep getting in the way.

Everything just seems to happen all at once. We still don’t have any idea where Fred is (well, bottom of a gin bottle comes to mind) despite what I tried to do. Guess we’ll have to find another way to track him down.

Is Odette Mariah? Who’s the ball of evil living in her skin?

How the hell am I going to put this right?

It’s starting to throb. The novacaine finally wore off. God I hope I don’t get some sort of raging infection from that. Meningitus would be really bad. Really, really bad.

That French knight that helped Mei and Anotep and Grant…wonder how far we can trust him.

God, hope that makeup job I did on Mei was good enough to preserve her cover. If it wasn’t, we could be screwed.

Have to make sure he knows to get those books to whoever’s supposed to get them. Damnation, Albert, why did you assume he’d be with us when you went down? Did you know something I didn’t?

Told me once that if he and Allison hadn’t started working together when they did, they’d probably would have gotten themselves killed. God, I hope he’s not trying that shit now. If there’s as much of her to me as everyone seems to think there is…

I should sleep. I really should. Maybe I’ll just put my head down and listen to his heartbeat, listen to him breathing. I’ll wake up if something changes. I know I would. It’s what I do.

So tired. So, so tired. I don’t think I care about dinner anymore. I’ll feel better in the morning. Maybe. I hope. He’ll be better in the morning. If he doesn’t come around on his own by midmorning I’ll use the smelling salts. I don’t want to pump any adrenaline into him. Too much of a shock, I think, and he’d want to get up and do things and then I really would have to hit him. I really don’t want to. Was just angry, upset. Frustrated. Guess I’ll have to get over it. And I will, as long as I can get his promise that he’s not going to try something stupid like that again.

At least not without me near enough to patch him back together again with minimal blood loss.

6 May 2009

Odette is Odyle is Mariah is Mary?
Note to self: Thratchen must die.

 

7 May 2009

Well of Forever.  To the East.

Just when everything attempts to make sense again…it just as suddenly stops.  Mable’s counterpart from Mei’s reality pissed off the technodemons enough to land her on the kill on sight lists.  Red saved us from a very angry Odette (what parts of what she said to me are true and which aren’t?  I think she slipped and said too much when she had me at staff point…she wouldn’t keep me alive just to poke me.  There’s something more afoot, I just know it).  She said she was praying a debt, but to who?  One of my brothers?  Not Yuri.  Dr. Hatchi?  Father Bryce?  Tolwyn?  We don’t have that many friends.  There’s not enough unaccounted for time for her to be paying a debt to Grant.

Rescued by his arse again.  How am I ever going to convince him I’m a colleague, a partner, not a damosel in distress?  Not that I really mind the save this time.  Twice was more than enough with that damned stick of hers.  I’ve got to get some new tricks if I’m ever going to be able to get the drop on her.

At least we’re all alive.  The alternative is far worse–far, far worse.  We’re alive, and getting the hell out of France.

Didn’t get much sleep last night–too much to keep track of.  Christian didn’t sleep much, either.

I worry about Fred.  What did they do to him?  He just seems a mess–a complete mess–catatonic with new hardware that I can’t make heads or tails of.  And I don’t know what to make of it.  Maybe when the drugs clear his system he’ll be able to tell us something.  I’m not that confident he will, but it’s something.

Maybe we shuold ask Mei’s technomage friend who cropped up this morning…that’s an idea.

It’s just a grand mess and we’re not clear of the mess yet.  Nothing makes sense anymore.  All I know is that I have some sort of purpose in this life.  Fight the good fight.  Save the world.

Fight’em until we can’t.  That may not be much longer.

The crusaders…they’re lambs to the slaughter.  Sure, they’ll take some demons with them…but their honor and their true belief that God will grant them victory is just going to feed the corpse farms.  I wish that wasn’t the case.

If wishes were horses…

I get so tired sometimes.  Destiny is jerking us around again.  What’s this Well of Forever?  Another hardpoint?  Something else?  Why is it so important?  Why is Odette going there and is she taking the Wheel with her?

Heaven help us if she really can use it.  I’m not sure I can overwhelm her.  My faith isn’t that strong…but is my will?

I don’t want to chance it.  I already have a frog god gunning for me.  I still dream that dream over again sometimes and I hate it.  It makes my skin crawl.  I never want to run into that thing ever, ever again.

God, why didn’t I share a hammock with Grant last night?  Mable was too out of it to care and he and I could have used it.  Of course, I probably would have said the wrong thing and there would have been a fight and a mess and do I really need that on top of everything else?

I know I don’t need it, but why do I almost want it?  Not the mess and the fighting, but everything around it.

There’s so much depth and I’m still scratching along the surface.  And I have a feeling he’s going to be gone again before I can get much deeper if I don’t seize the opportunity.  I just…almost don’t know how.  Is that it?  That has to be it.

So what do I do?  In the middle of all this insanity…

Acch.  Mable’s going to hate me for all this.

10 May 2009

He’s gone. Acid. Ran.

What do I do now? What do I do? I frakking love him. I frakking LOVE him.

But I can’t let them see me cry. But who’s going to leave me alone long enough for me to cry?

Dammit, Grant. Damn you. This wasn’t what I wanted.

You goddamn effing noble Bastard. What am I supposed to do now? The fact that you were okay enough to run from them, that was a positive sign. Wasn’t it? God, I hope so. I really, really hope so.

 

I have to get my mind off this or I’m going to go completely insane. I’ll lose it, and I can’t afford to lose it. I’m the only leader they have.

Thank god for small favors. Fred is better. I just hope that whatever was done to him won’t cause him to turn on us. I’m so tired of not being able to trust anyone. So, so tired.

Another crime Odyle will have to pay for. There are so many, now. Everything the Hunter did is on her head, too. Someone has to pay. Someone will pay.

The cost we’re shouldering is alreadt too much to bear.

I just want everythign to be the way it was before, when life was boring. Of course, I never would have met half the people I’ve come to care about, to love…

Dammit anyway. How could you do this to me?

I knew it would happen. I just didn’t want to believe it was going to happen.

Damn me. Damn it all.

I’m so, so sorry. I’m so sorry.

Stop thinking about him. Can’t cry in front of them. I can’t cry in front of them. Respect is already tenuous.

And then there’s the new guy and I don’t think he’s going to snap-to and take orders as readily as I might like. Of course, I could be wrong. In that, I’d love to be wrong.

But the rest? I can’t count on any of them 100% of the time. Mei and Grace are the best. Christian isn’t bad about it, but he’s still new. I’m still feeling him out. Fred listens, but how far can I trust him, given what he’s been through. And Mable…Mable’s a loose cannon and it’s only going to get worse now that Grant’s gone.

God, please let him be alive. Please let him be okay.

I have to talk to her. Make her understand that if I say don’t do it, it’s because I care. I don’t want to see her get hurt, or die. I owe the Mystery Men, I owe Grant, I owe Allison that much. Someone’s got to look out for her. If she gets herself killed, how will I be able to forgive myself for it?

This is all my fault. It’s always all my fault.

Damn me.

We have to keep going, have to press on into Tharkold.  That’s where the Well is.  It’s a trap.  We know it’s a trap.

Maybe I can convince them to let me be the bait.

God, we need a plan.  But are they goign to sit still long enough for us to come up with one?  I wish I’d had my head on straight when we cut Wraith loose.  There was a lot I should have asked and didn’t.

Maybe he was right.  Then again, if he’d just said the damn words–any words other than “I won’t do this right now!”  Maybe then I wouldn’t be a knotted mess.

Damn him!

Damn me.

Damn it all, it’s going to hell in a handbasket and I have to stop that from happening.  I have to.  Who else can?  Who else will?

What’s she planning?  God, I wish I knew.  I have a feeling I might never sleep again if I did, though.

We’ll find out soon, one way or another.

Mariah.  Odette.  Odyle.  When did you decide to betray us all?  Was it when you left Andrew and Fr. Bryce?  When we were in the Temple?  Before, after?

Who are you, and what do you want from us all?

I need to sleep, but I can’t.  I keep replaying moments over and over in my brain, even though I don’t want to.

I hate myself for being in that spot.  I have no one to blame for my being there but me.

And her.

Someone has to pay.  I get the feeling I’m already paying the price for a lot.  And the price is starting to be almost too much to bear.

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