Saturday, March 22, 2014

The RedFuck Bastard

Well, we're still goddamn ALIVE, how's THAT for starters?

No, you didn't get a "I'm scheduling this email to go up hours after I've left" shit message. Know why? Cause timelimits to get shit DONE fucking SUCK. Cause wouldn't THAT just be perfect? Trying to sneak in all stealthy like, and your "prey" READS about what you're doing online. You gotta let yours gut tell you when it's time to "Storm the Castle" you know. Can't keep checking your watch and FORCE what feels right.

i really am NOT in the mood for this little update. EVERYTHING is goddamn sore and the STUPID FUCK hasn't SHUT UP since we...

might as well get this over with.

I had figured a while back that everyone's FAVORITE egotistical bastard would either go one of two places:

Either to the Last Place anyone would Expect him to go.

Or for FIRST Place anyone would Expect him to go.

I had bets on the First. And, as it turns out, I was fucking RIGHT. The Bastard DIDN'T go running off to some spit of nowhere to hide while he recovered and thought of a new way of convincing everyone that everything was going "According To Plan". He DIDN'T drop off the face of the planet to go curl in a ball in Nowhere-ville. He buried himself RIGHT under our noses, and therefore the one place no one would check.

The House.

Poetic, right? Going back to the exact place that The Devil began and Spencer Fitzgerald ended. Dramatic. What is WITH you bunch with always being so damn DRAMATIC? seriously.oh, well. Guess it does keep shit interesting, if nothing else. And if there was one thing that that damn House knew how to do... it was keep shit interesting. The entire fucking place was set up like a Fun House from Hell.

I didn't like the air from the second I walked in - my hand instinctively shifting to rest on my glock, no matter how useless a weapon it was. Just standing there. Barely three feet inside The House that appeared so very much normal from the outside, never getting spared a glance from anyone or anything... even as we stood there, the air contracted and cooled. A draft blowing through where there COULDN'T have been one, carrying with it voices. Broken voices. Some laughing. Some encouraging. Some frightened. Some angered. Drifting in whispers of times gone by. Times long forgotten. Times when things were... simpler. Even though it hadn't seemed that way at the time, I'm sure. These were the halls where The End began, after all. The halls, The House, that Spencer and the couriers ran for their lives and met fate. One. By one. By one.

And, like the drifting whispers... The House itself shifted and altered itself by the minute. Flipping and churning and switching around on itself. Cracking and breaking, then re-merging into one, two, eight, then three. Half of a bathroom bleeding into a kitchen, with half a couch sticking out from the wall and a rug on the ceiling soaked in blood that was pooling onto the tiles next to the ceiling fan. And, amongst it all... black branches. Everywhere. Gnarled and twisted branches reaching out from the very walls, entangling everything it its reach as the walls BLED and the whispers started RUSHING turned to screams and cries and pleads and gunshots firing RICOCHETING AND then we LURCHED and I grabbed hold of Fracture and yanked him out of the way of a wall closing CRASHING into another and merging as the bathroom bled into a living room and a doorway grew where there wasn't one...

I heard someone shouting.

Rationality still trying to find some USE in that damn maze, I rushed to see who was there... only to collide with someone.

Or, most accurately, their phantom.

I can only assume it was Steele, but it might not have been. His image taken from some event. Rushing across the room with a shout, swinging open that door, and slamming it shut behind him as he kept running. Then he'd shout and be running across the room again...

Fracture gave me a look. I returned it. Then he reached for that door, pulling it wide.

We were greeted by our mirror images. An illusion of me and Fracture opening the door from the OTHER side, with that Phantom of Steele rushing through them and towards us, while our phantom rushed through us and towards them. The phantoms meeting in the middle and there was.... an explosion, kinda. No fire. Just a deafening CRACK that nearly deafened me and it was like I was hit by a wall. A punch that ripped the air straight from my lungs as I slammed back into a wall behind and INTO one of those fucking branches. Finger-like branches coiling around, as if sensing Life... and wanting to claim it. Seize it.

I heard the walls around us groan.

And I knew they were getting ready to shift again. But, snagged as I was, I was bound to get torn away with it and THAT would probably be my death.... until that groan became almost a wail. Sick and pained and distorted as all the room began to violently shift and turn... except where we were standing. I could FEEL the branches wrapped around me straining to shift with the rest of the house... but not able to. Held. Caught. LEASHED.

Fracture... had leashed it. The immediate area. Holding it in place so as to not get swept away by the current... but it was clear that he was FEELING it. Maintaining that bubble around us as I fought to free myself of those fucking branches, the immediate area OUTSIDE us was far more turbulent and violent than it was before. Like we were the rock in the rapids. And when I finally DID free myself - when we actually started MOVING again - it was clear that The House... was PISSED. The burden of it becoming heavier and heavier on Fracture as we tried to negotiate the halls. Trying to make our way along... even as we entered the same room we were exiting. Even as we opened doors to black abysses that radiated a damn chill that made my skin crawl. Even as those whispers from behind started... playing familiar voices...

"Run? Run where? He's everywhere! What the Hell do you want us to do, Sam? 
Take flight and never look back?! WE HAVE A LIFE HERE! What about Leo? Have you thought of him? At all? 
Or are you too focused on your own fucking plans to remember this isn't just about--"

"Alex... please, don't. I know you're scared.  
We're ALL scared, but we can't just sit on our hands here. 
This thing knows our routines, our lives... maybe... maybe if we get on the road, we can stay one step ahead. 
Leo will come with us too, he--"

"He's only a kid, Sam! He can't grow up on the road! 
Living like some goddamn bum drifting from one place to another!"

"Leo. Would come too. 
I already spoke to Owen, and he thinks it might give us some time to sort this out. 
His daughter will come too, of course. All of us. Together. 
We'll keep each other safe..."

"No. No, this is insane
I am NOT getting driven out of my home! "

"...You can still call this a home
Face it, Alex, it's just a house now. 
It stopped being a 'home' when you became too scared to sleep in it."

"...Still, I--"

"We have to run the gauntlet, Alex. 
I'm sorry, but this is our option. Our one option. 
I know it's hard but--"

"Get out."

"Alex, I--"


Get out.
Get out.


Even as those whispers brought me years back in time, it was like I could... feel... that same tone from The House. From the walls and doors and hallways and rooms. Every one vibrating. PULSING. with that single demand.

Fracture's left eye started bleeding down his cheek. Blisters and rashes spreading up his neck and across his clenched jaw as he tried so hard to FORCE stability on this realm. Trying so hard to keep it in place just long enough to find that Red son of a bitch and get the hell out... but The House was having none of that. The House didn't WANT a leash, it wanted us all fucking OUT...

and that's when it hit me.

The House... WANTED... us out.

The damn fucking thing was alive. I didn't know how or why, but I did remember reading something that Spencer had wrote ages ago that might just have suggested this House was no ordinary House... and, right then, I went with my gut. cause when logic and shit is being flung out the window, your gut is all you have left to  fly with.

I told Fracture to release it.

He looked at me like I had lost my mind, but, slowly, he retracted his will off the area...

and we were rewarded by a violent shift that put us right back where we started: at the front door. So violent, in fact, that we were slammed into it and both of us found ourselves sprawled on the floor. hands and knees.




I could FEEL it. No doubt that Fracture did too. So I did something incredibly stupid... and started talking to the House. Started talking over the Whispers and the creaks and groans in the shifting wall. I mentioned about how we too wanted to leave, but that we were looking for someone. Someone that The House probably wanted to get rid of too. A GLITCH in reality. A creature that should never have BEEN, with a presence of his own clawing at The House's workings...

I drove a bargain.

Let us find him. And we will DRAG him out with us.

Slowly, the shifting rooms came to a stop. Deafening the House in complete silence... before, carefully, it shifted again. And a hallway came to exist in front of us. I took that as a 'yes', and started walking before Fracture did. Making him jog a few steps to catch up, but I was already thinking of how strange life was. After all... compromise? Negotiation? Where the HELL did that come from? When did I start striking deals and stop bulldozing my way through everything? Since when am /I/ the one to think outside the box and find a solution, rather than just getting mad and going on rants?

the sign is nigh

The hall didn't give any other option but straight forward, so all that we had to do was follow it. The air kinda... felt thicker. The further we went.... no, that's wrong. Not 'thick', just HEAVY. Like it was getting harder and harder to breathe. My skin feeling just on FIRE with every step closer, like there was even a CHARGE to it that sensed us coming.... and wanted us gone. Just like The House had. But this was Wrong. Way wrong. I always... did wonder what Sam had always meant by that. I had always assumed that it was the same 'wrong' I used to feel when heading into a Sting, back in my hayday. When things just... felt like we were going into something fifty times worse than what we had initially thought. But, walking up to that wooden door at the end of the hall.... that was something else entirely. That was what Nightscream had meant by 'Wrong'. That was every cell, every fiber in your entire body and being screaming out all at once that this was more than just 'deep shit'.... this "was impossible". This "shouldn't be". this "COULDN'T BE". It's... the scream of reality. When you walk into a Wound.

Fracture tried to keep that 'Bleeding' off of us best he could. Though that did mean he was breaking out in a rash again. Fingernails turning black. I didn't much ask him about it, but he seemed to be doing better against the "Wrong" than he did against The House. Though, it was when I was just standing outside that office door... I did wonder. I was just a human. Just a human with a glock in one hand and a katana behind my back. Fracture was... one of the "Special Crowd" as it were.... but just how special was he? Compared to Red? I mean, Red had been hiding for months. It had taken WAY too long to track down Konaa and Red had had ALL that goddamn time to recover...

In that instant... the hallway without a single exit felt more like a ramp feeding cattle to slaughter than anything else.

But still. Passed the cold chill that went down my spine... passed the air that seem to PULSE against my skin... I reached for the doorhandle. Only to hiss and curse as I ripped my hand back. The fucker was HOT. Fracture made a move as though to fix that... but wouldn't you know it - MY ANGER CAME BACK. And I booted that fucking door in. Made for a good entrance, if nothing else. Think it amused Fracture. Kinda like a kid who stubbed their toe on a box. So smash the box.

What? I never claimed to be mature. That was Sam's deal, not mine. Ages be damned.

The room was pitch black, but... not. At the same time. Almost like the shadows were enveloping the room, but that still left for some... light reflection. Shifting. Stirring. Flashes here and there. Not enough to really SEE, but to... find outlines. Very very faintly. As if just... hints of shape. Everything in me told me he was there. I could FEEL the sick fuck, but I couldn't see....

But then I heard it.

A slow, deep, disjointed laugh. Sick and distorted and mad and gut-wrenching. Born from a twisted grin that I heard in that laugh long before I actually saw it. Long before twin pits of hellish amber rose up - head shifting up - from beneath the shadow of a blood red hoodie. The blaze of yellow fire actually BURNING from the rest of the darkness. The rest of his figure pulling from it. Out of it. As if BORN from it. Part of him. Part of it. Those eyes locking deep into mine as the rest of him almost seemed to BLEED into Being from that red hoodie seated behind that large desk. Sharp edges of high cheek bones nearly cutting through skin that was so pale it almost seemed transparent - blue veins bulging and tight skin twitching and spasming as pools of liquid insanity and oppression sunk right through us. Not blinking. Never blinding. Clawing deep our minds. Our thoughts. Knowing us. Knowing everything as that grin only pulled wider. Far too wide from under the shadows of his red hoodie. The BURN in the air doubling. Tripling. Vibrating and TWISTING as my ears began to ring louder and louder until I thought my skull was going to split in two...

And when he spoke... the entire room CRAWLED over itself. As if reality - AND THE HOUSE - were pained by his presence there.


"...I told you.

I told you ALL what was coming, but you were too BLIND to see it...

too DEAF and STUPID to hear the Drums beat...

can't you hear them? Even now? On the DOORSTEP of HELL can you HEAR IT NOW?!?

The Drums Are Coming... WAR... IS... COMING...

All... will... burn...

Fire and Ash.


I rushed him.

There wasn't a word between Fracture and I - there was barely a PLAN - but, as I rushed, I could FEEL a power punch through in front of me and WARP. Like when you combine two drinks, and there's that split second where one drinking is pushing the other out of the way other than merging with it. That's what I felt. A split second where the burn left my skin, and I drew Konaa's sword. Zero's sword. The sword that had already clashed with the Bleeding Tree once... the very essence that had killed the first Redlight. And I knew in my gut that this fuck would FEAR fate repeating. And from the look that splashed across that sharp edged face... I was FUCKING RIGHT.

Until it didn't matter.

Until a second punch came.

Until.... there was a blast of red. An explosion. Spider webs. Strings.

Millions and millions... of strings...

And then pain.




and the floor rose up to hit my knees.


It took... so long for me to piece together what had happened. How Red hadn't bothered to fight back, he... only turned me against myself. As he so likes to do. As that influence rushed through my head, I... turned the katana in my hold. And drove it the blade through my own abdomen. 

Clean through to the hilt.

I remember... the end of Fracture's lab-coat at the edge of my vision. So white amongst the wood and shadow and blood and pain that didn't make any goddamn SENSE at the time. Nothing adding up. I just... I just couldn't make sense of the pain. Of seeing that handle sticking out from me, my own shaking hand wrapped around it. I just... couldn't... even when, a second later, that spiderweb of Red was yanked away, it still left the pain and I couldn't understand WHY...

Fracture said he forced his Will out. Made us a 'pocket' amongst the twisting, crawling realm of the room around us. He said that.... Red seemed to consider me 'dealt with' at that point. Turning his attention to Fracture. Really focusing on him for the first time. The fear I'd stirred sinking back... before, so very slowly, he GRINNED. Stretching wider and wider like a creepy ass Cheshire Cat. And then twisting. Morphing. STRETCHING over themselves for such a brief second. Like reality itself had BENT before reasserting itself. And he laughed. He LAUGHED. His words muttered and mumbled and tripping over themselves as he snickered to himself. Everything rippling and vibration in pained distortion as liquid lava BURNED and his presence folded all around Fracture's little bubble. Enveloping it.

"You can't keep me out~

You think you're so special compared to the common sheep,

But you are NOTHING compared to me!

You're no more than a CHILD fogging up a window with a single, cheap breath!

My Strings will become Your Will, Little One~ Little Wolf~

And, once this trick of yours BURSTS...

I'll have you clamp your jaws around your Pet of a Black Sheep.

Before I'll STRIP your Power bare to your BONES!"

And then, despite Fracture using every ounce of Will he had to keep our 'Pocket' up... despite his tendons and muscles strained into bulging beneath his skin before bursting out, splitting him open like a pipe with too much water being driven through.... despite his left eye creating a STREAM of blood down the side of his face under the pressure of Redlight's power... he smiled back. He smiled... as burning amber boiled like lava and that wide grin tore back into a snarl. Because the Strings Redfuck relied on wouldn't work. Couldn't work. Burning up before they got anywhere NEAR taking control.

"...That's not possible...

You insignificant, little SPECK!


You'd have to be A Va----


Well then."

Fracture said that he only blinked... and then there was a grip closing on his throat. He knocked it, twisting, getting it released. Barely keeping ahead. Redlight, even weakened as he was, was faster. Stronger. Fracture was nowhere NEAR any kind of advantage in any way, yet he still tried. Tried to keep Red distracted. Keep him occupied with illusions and voices and visions of the past. Of Spencer and the events in the House that we had seen so many of. Of the fight in Eden, now all-too-realistically in Fracture's skull since he ripped it from my own. He used everything he had to stall... until it wasn't enough. Until a force came in like a hammer dropping, slamming him to the floor. Where he DID get his throat caught in an iron grip. Where he was PULLED up, pressed back into the wall. Where he was RISEN clear off his feet. Where he... convulsed. As Redfuck's snarl... became a smile. Such a wrong smile. Voice amounting to a soft coo. As he... began to drain out whatever Power Fracture had.

"Such a pathetic excuse for an 'Angel', now, aren't you?

My, oh, my. Haven't the Chosen Children of The Gods fallen FAR!"

But Fracture... only smiled through the blood. Through his body's convulsions and spasms. He just smiled... the gesture... spreading out wide. Inhuman.

Because he could see the glistening blade slowly pulling out of my flesh, despite my OWN convulsions against it.

Because he could see me stagger onto my feet. Turning back around. Coming up behind...

And driving that goddamn sword RIGHT FUCKING THROUGH HIS BACK.

I had thought... it might be instant. That it might work like a taser. Bringing the fuck to his knees from the BURN of residue on that blade. I had hoped it would immobilize him. Simple and clean and easy.

I was in shock from being stabbed, I think.

Because I really didn't expect to have to defend myself. To need to block a WILD swing with Red's arm that crushed my skull against the wall hard enough to crack the plaster. My vision splintering to pieces, edged in a thick black that only wanted to close in on me more. Pain didn't register from it. I only felt... dizzy. Confused. Everything coming to me so slow as that grip found my hair and cracked my skull a second time... and I saw the blood. A splatter of red from my mouth across the wall surface. I could TASTE it then. The first sensation that came back... before I realized he was killing me.

He was killing me.

And though I knew it... I couldn't really... wrap my head around it. I tried to fight him off a bit, but it was all too... lost behind the haze. Too blurred between the blood and pain and those burning eyes.  My legs threatening to slip out from under me completely... before I heard a gunshot go off right near my ear. Everything that had been holding me up... just fell away in one collapsing motion. And I would have fallen away with it, if Fracture hadn't grabbed me. Easing me to the floor. So INSISTENT that I stay awake. Which was really the LAST thing I wanted to do....

Fracture had shot Redlight point-blank in the back of the skull. Odds were fifty/fifty of whether it would kill him, or his own survival instinct would kick in and all his remaining power - the power he was using to fend of the DRAW of the sword driven through him - would be FED into protecting his life. Which is exactly what happened. The back of his hood was a mess of blood and tissue and bone... which started piecing itself back together the second that the impact stopped. Replacing brain and bone and skin and hair... and spitting out the bullet before it was totally done. He'd warped reality with his remaining strength to unwind the injury... but at the cost of losing his OTHER battle. The traces of the Bleeding Tree on the blade more than enough now to paralyze him. Leaving him sprawled out where he lay.

Thank God I brought someone with medical training. Otherwise I'd have never been able to fumble my way out of that House.

We're nearly at the Cult Town now. Redlight's regained power, but not enough to cause too much of a hassle for Fracture. Though we BOTH wish he would learn how to SHUT THE FUCK UP with the mindfuckery. Not to mention that goddamn tapping he does. It gets really REALLY irritating really REALLY fast. Him and his goddamn drums. His fucking War. And he still thinks he can still manipulate it all. Still thinks he's near achieving his goal....

He just keeps tapping away...

tap, tap, tap, tap...

tap, tap, tap, tap...

tap, tap, tap, tap...

tap, tap, tap, tap...


Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Weary Knight

There is nothing that makes someone feel old (and forty-two is not THAT old. I mean come on.) than chasing after some spritly (is that even a word?) young thing. Seriously. It took me HOW DAMN LONG to track him down??? I guess there's something to be said for the trades learned in this little circus of ours. Not to mention the loyalty of close comrades. Trying to get ANYONE to say BOO about this certain "Knight's" whereabouts - even when I KNEW they knew something - was like trying to get water from a rock.

Actually, I think the water/rock thing would have been easier.

But in any case.... I did manage to find him.

The one we all know as "Konaa".

Of course, that left me with the problem of APPROACHING said Runner in a way that put us off on a good foot. Not exactly an easy thing to do when you've basically become someone's personal stalker ("I know what you did last summer"?). I tailed him for a bit down the street (who suspects a one-eyed hobo with a dog to have any kind of malice intent?) before he turned into a small Cafe. I don't know if he ducked in there and ordered a coffee BECAUSE he thought he was being followed, or if that's where he had meant to go all the way, or both.... but, if I had to guess, I'd say he knew. This life of ours tends to turn Paranoia into a kickass survival instinct.

I left Max outside (I never did tell you guys how I got Max, did I? Weird how none of you even asked. Oh well, I'll get back to it.) and went inside. Konaa was at a booth on the far side - no way I could just casually walk by and strike up a conversation. To get to his table, I'd need to MEAN to go over that way... and then our stares matched for a split second, and I knew it was either dive in or walk out. So I went direct. Walked straight over. I had honestly been meaning to at least say "hello" to start or something else that might be conceived as more "friendly" in nature... but what I kinda found myself saying was:

"You are one hard son of a bitch to track down, kid."

The way he looked at me - giving me this small little grin as I walked up - I knew he was already taking me a bit on the bumpy side of sane. Probably noticed my glock, not that I do much to try to hide it. Or maybe it was my age. I mean, hell, Konaa is what? 25? 23? Not even? I guess that's considered 'old' for this particular game of 'asshole' but holy CRAP; how does someone that young have eyes that old? Nevertheless, he seemed to like the fact I was being direct about the whole stalking thing. Which probably means he DID know I was following him. Go me. The Academy would be SO proud. 

He invited me to take a seat. Asked if I wanted anything, and my stomach kinda answered for me. So I got a burger with fries. Couldn't really remember the last time I ate something that didn't come straight out of a package of some sort, so I'd have killed for a burger. Which... I actually think I said. Which probably was a poor choice of words. Especially since I wasn't sure if it was even past noon or not cause my watch had broken when I'd broken the nose of some twat who thought I looked like a nice punching bag. "Don't start something if you aren't comfortable with roles getting reversed." That's what I say about THAT. But anyway, he didn't seem offended or concerned by it. Even took my hand when I offered it, introducing myself. Trying my best to clarify the fact that I wasn't there to start anything, even though I was sure that he'd heard that kinda bullshit before. I started telling him a little about myself. Vague things at first, which he'd respond in vague with his own life. Then getting into more detail. Telling him about how shit started with me. About Sam. About the Asylum and all my JOYOUS adventures since I ran from THERE... and about... theories that I've had. Since I've seen the shit I've seen. Since I got out of Eden. Since I really started putting shit together and ORGANIZING the puzzle pieces to start seeing a bit more of the hidden message behind it...

"...See, that's the problem isn't it?

He, and others like Him, are the center of it all. They are the 'Gods'. Fear itself. And you can't... eliminate fear from the world. They exist down to our core as a species. Fear of the dark. Fear of strangers. Fear of disease. Fear of a puppeteer's strings... They Exist because We Exist. They get Their strengths, and maybe even Their weakness, from us. A couple years ago, things were bad. Very bad. The Fears were everywhere, and only getting more and more active. Some people called it all part of some big cycle or some shit, but it had NEVER been that bad. Not in any of the records I hacked into. And then... it was like we dropped off a cliff. Fear sightings have become an uncommon, even a RARE occurrence. 

I'm not an expert in any of this crap, but, to me, it stinks. Creatures like that don't just suddenly VANISH for no rhyme or reason. I mean, sure, there were people like you fighting back for a while. But even that has kinda stopped with less and less people actually giving a damn about... well, giving a damn about each other. About keeping 'humanity', as Sam used to call it. These days, the Runners are just as bad as the damn Servants, and the Fears... are nowhere to be damn seen. I don't REMEMBER the last person who said they'd seen The Slender Man. He's just... gone. And, in His place, we have that Cult Town that Nightscream created when it got Slender to fight Plague. We have the self-proclaimed "Angels" or Attendants or whatever the hell they call themselves. We have our second Redlight in the works, and at LEAST one other Crafter running around, possibly two. We have that Harbinger thing that came from The Quiet, and is currently being held off in Eden. We have people claiming superpowers and special abilities and special 'understandings'... though not as bad as the Revenants, they're still THERE. And if you think of  each of these little... 'special folk' as a needle. And the Veil that divides our worlds as a bag of water... what you get is leaking. Dimensional Bleeding. And a hell of a lot of it. It's gotten so bad, that we don't even NOTICE it. Doorways that we don't remember being there are suddenly THERE. Or the complete opposite. Even that damn Cult Town is SPREADING out into the surrounding area. You should SEE some of the mindfuckery that's beginning in neighboring towns. But you don't have to go there. Just look around. Anywhere. If you actually WATCH the world moving around... there are glitches. It's all around us, but we don't see it because no one is LOOKING for it. They're too busy looking for the Monsters who have already goddamn VACATED. Because THEY sense what's going on. THEY can feel the firestorm coming when that bag breaks and THEIR worlds slam into and crash into ours. THEY are backing off... because They don't want to burn with our world. 

You want to know why I tracked you down, Konaa? Because there's next to no one who gives a shit anymore.

And, if this keeps up, there isn't a single damn one of us who's going to get out of it.

....So. Wishing you hadn't asked me to sit down, yet?"

Konaa said nothing for a long while and that's when the waitress came with my plate, though I didn't touch it at first. I hadn't discussed my theory with anyone else other than Fracture, but he agreed that it made sense. Agreed to help. Hell, I don't even honestly think that Fracture is FROM my version of reality. Some events in our histories don't seem to line up, and he's mentioned a couple of people being alive who I'm pretty damn sure are as dead as a damn doornail over here. Like Mitch, for instance. Morningstar's old Canadian playmate turned whatever-the-hell. On Fracture's side, she's not only alive, but actually is one of those hell-bent Runners who never seem to die, no matter how hard of a shit kicking they take. Never even hinted at turning Proxy, either. So, yeah. I think Fracture's a little bit out of his jurisdiction. But ain't that just MORE proof of how screwed to hell this all is? The only real reason Fracture is on board at all is because we're his experiment. He has worries that HIS side of things are headed in the same direction that WE are at, and he wants to have a sandbox to see what can be done to stop it, or even just delay. 

Fracture and I have spent a LOT of time just talking shit over. Apparently, good ol' Robert turned proxy before kicking the bucket on his side. As a Highest of all things, under the codename "Loveless". Fracture and "Duckie" (as Fracture calls him) did him in. There was all kinds of crap like that right across the map...

At last though, Konaa nodded. Making a comment about how he was never one to wait for something to go wrong.

"So how do we stop idiots from running with scissors?"

So... I told him the rest of my theory. I told him about how I'd always planned on killing Redlight. And why. But then... I went into how I was now thinking that the Red Bastard could actually serve a purpose. After all, if the issue is that the Veil is getting too damaged, too thin... then, really, a good place to start... should be to give it an energy boost. And if there is one thing a Crafter hosts, it's energy. Energy to manipulate reality itself. To create loops and alter perceptions. 

I planned on finding Redlight... and dragging him to the open wound that Nightscream had created.

Then... I'd do something that Morningstar himself insisted on TEACHING ME how do to.

I'd convince him to cooperate.

But, first, I needed to get him there. I needed something to subdue him. To pin Redlight down and stop him from playing any of his usual tricks... even if it was a long shot, a weapon of faith... I was ready to have a bit of faith in that kinda crap...

He gave a slow nod. Seeming more... invested... with what was coming to be our little alliance. "I knew Redlight, when he was Spencer... He and I worked together many times, tried to build a safe community for those like us, until... It was too much for him, and he snapped under the pressure." He sighed heavily. "Maybe it's time to settle that score.." He indicated a large duffel bag by the table, then paused a bit, seeming to debate something in his mind. "...There's something in there that might just do the trick.  It's not a special weapon, really.  But if you want belief empowered, there's little better tool than what I have."

"We got little else other than faith, to be honest. And I'm not the believing sort..."  I scoffed a laugh. "Well. I wasn't." My eye drifted to that bag. "...Timothy Holiday, or 'Zero' if you'd like... he fought that Bleeding Tree with it, if I remember right. At least, that's if Zero was actually coherent enough to differ reality from dream at that point. And the first redlight... he was killed by that tree. It's a long shot, but it just might work. I know you don't have a single damn reason to trust me, but there's no sense in BOTH of us risking our damn necks. If I could just... borrow it. For a bit. If I actually survive, I swear on the graves of my family that I'll bring it back."

I thought for sure that Konaa was going to shoot me down. Or laugh. Or both. I mean, it's no secret that the guy protects that piece of his like the Holy Grail and it's not like he knew me from Adam, you know? But, by the time I'd finished, Konaa... no... June Reynolds was just beaming. Grinning from ear to ear. A strange kind of relieved expression settled over him. And then he reached over, unzipped the bag, and pulled out a cardboard package about a foot wide and five feet long. Offering it to me freely across the table.

"Your story, pal.  I'd be glad to give you the means to continue it. But...yes, I would like it back. It's got considerable sentimental value.  Just...There's no point in not letting it do what it's meant to. Save the day."

"...Heh. You're alright, kid."

"I've been called worse. Honestly, I'm tired. Burnt out. I dealt with my own personal demon... Rhodes is dead. How, well, I think I'd rather not go into it. But he was as bad as they get.  Worse than Morningstar, worse than Nightscream - he never needed corruption, he was already that bad. Now that he's gone, I feel like I've...done my part.  

So.  Go do yours. 

 Just remember that a lot of people died so that we could make it this far.."

"...You think you'll try to settle? Your eyes are older, but you're still a young thing. You shouldn't waste your years without a home. Or people to share a home with. It's rare thing to find. Even rarer to keep. But it's worth the pain. Least, it was for me."

"...I've got a girl."  He beamed a little. "One that was waiting patiently for my stupid ass... One I think I can finally get back to now."

"...Heh. The ones that wait are usually the ones that make it all worth it. Trust me on that."

"She was in this too, but... well.  She retired some time ago.  Good on her.  Now that things are settled, I think I'm going to...go to school again.  God, what a weird thought."  He rubbed a hand through his hair, chuckling. "Go to school.  What am I gonna do without random monster attacks?"

"You'll just have to make do without the Nightmare." A bit of a laugh. "School. Career. Family. Sounds like you're goin' for the royal flush. Good for you, June. Just like you said: A lot of people have died so we could make it this far. No sense just 'surviving right? You gotta live. And live for those who didn't make it. If that means taking risks... then all you can do is roll the dice. 

I'll handle Redlight.

You go get your girl."

We're up.