Excerpts from the journal of Connor Galloway, an employee of Orpheus and member of Crucible 7.
Richmond Virginia, October 11, 2013.
We arrived back at work on Friday morning to find a news story about the Orphanage. Sister Katherine had been found hung from one of the balconies with scratch marks on her body. The report said there were signs of a struggle. I couldn’t believe the nuns were still there, I had warned them it wasn’t safe. Markus suggested that when the Church said they’d be dealing with it ‘in-house’ what they really meant was, stay out of it. But now someone else had died because of their denial.
The whole team was shaken up. Dan was the first to voice what we were thinking, that we had to do something. We had to try and stop anyone else from dying. Well, being killed by the spectres. Dahlia was understandably reluctant to get involved saying, “you don’t give help to people who won’t ask for it.” But I’m not sure whether she fully believed herself. Dan thought it would be a good idea to see if one of the other, more experienced Crucibles, could look into it for us.
Entering the office of Crucible 3 Dahlia stumbled and had to catch herself on the doorframe. I asked if she was alright and she said it was probably just the medication. Sitting on one of their couches and looking over a document were Erin and the Projector we’d seen her talking to on Monday. He introduced himself as Gordon and then Erin asked how she could help us. We showed her the news and she expressed her concern, commenting that the Catholic Church has not been very receptive to the discovery of spirits. Sadly Crucible 3 had their own jobs to take care of and when we asked if they could look into it they had to decline.
Still unsure as to how we should proceed we left the Orpheus building and found a cafe. We made small talk over brunch, getting to know one another as Prator had told us, but we were clearly all preoccupied. As we were finishing up I mentioned Ken, the cop who worked the Sick Six case, and reminded the others that we’d met him briefly before. I suggested that maybe now would be a good time to go and have a chat to him. It would at least be something productive, yet low-impact, and I hoped it would give everyone something else to think about.
We drove by the Drink and saw him standing in the same spot, pacing occasionally and looking around. Dahlia parked the car and as everyone was hopping out I said, “I’m just gonna stay here and not talk to anyone.” I didn’t want to say something stupid to our only lead and have him bolt. The others walked straight up to him and I could see him engage in the conversation. There was one moment when Markus said something that caused him to reel back, but he calmed down quick enough.
After about ten minutes Ken turned and began to walk away and the others came back to the car. It turns out they got some rather interesting information from him which I’ll paraphrase here.
Ken is the only ghost we’ve run into that has been around for more than seven years. He spoke of a community of ghosts that used to exist in this parking lot. He told us more about the Shadowstorm, saying that he hid as dark creatures began to appear everywhere. He said that the creatures took everyone away.
He remembered his involvement with the Sick Six and told us that the gang was predominantly a drug running operation.
The most interesting point he made was that he used to work for Orpheus, back when it was called JD Cryogenics. But he didn’t remember any details of what it was he did there.
Apparently he’d made a deal with the others to go gather some more information on Bishop and the Sick Six. He said he was going down to the river and that he would meet us back here tomorrow morning at sunrise.
On the drive back to the office Markus voiced a theory that maybe Ken is still sleeping in a cryo-pod back at Orpheus somewhere. Apparently he’s been thinking a bit about what would happen if he was to stay out-of-body for an extended period of time. Would he become more disconnected? Would he regress into a more PLE like state? These are very interesting questions, but ones that would require a very long experiment. We hardly have time to explore it now.
I handed Markus the ‘Dies Ignes Deconstructed’ that I’d brought from home and after a few minutes of reading he chuckled. I asked him what was funny and he said, “I don’t get carsick when I’m projecting!”
It was about two o’clock by the time we got back to the office. I said I was off to see Hollis for my combat training and Markus asked if he could tag along. On the way to the training room Markus revealed that he’d felt somewhat powerless in the fight against the spectres and that maybe a little training would do him good. It’s the same conclusion I’d come to when I’d accepted the job, I guess I was simply more appropriately paranoid about what we’d be facing.
Hollis was more than happy to have another student, especially one at the same skill level as me. He was very eager to get us sparring and even said it was a good excuse for him to try out some new kendo sticks that had just arrived.
Later when we returned to our office Dan called us over to his computer. He’d been looking up information on Ken. It turns out that there was no entry for him in the Orpheus database and that a wider search had only produced a missing persons report in addition to all the Sick Six coverage we’d already seen. There was also no mention of him in relation to JD Cryogenics, but Dan had pulled up a story on the company’s history. I don’t know whether the others knew how Orpheus got started but I was certainly in the dark so I asked Dan to send me the link. This is the gist of it.
JD Cryogenics was a company performing research and development into freezing and reviving people in the 1990s. It was funded by a small group of wealthy benefactors with inoperable health problems who hoped that they themselves could be preserved long enough for a cure to be found.
Several people were put under and when the first one was revived years later she reported strange things happening while she was frozen. She said she’d left her body and had wandered around the city, even reporting details of events that had happened during her sleep. Not only that, she had also seen other such invisible presences. Needless to say, this is when the news began to spread. That ghosts walked among us unseen. More of the sleepers were eventually woken up and some reported the same experiences.
When the first few subjects had awoken they found that their worldly wealth had been exchanged for shares in JD Cryogenics and they had become owners of a pioneering scientific entity. The company was renamed to Orpheus soon after and the services of projectors was offered not long after that. By this time Orpheus had become a household name and the truth of ghosts was known worldwide.
I was looking at the Smithsonian website, checking what exhibitions and events would be running for Monday when Dahlia walked in. She stopped in the middle of the room and said she needed to tell us something. She seemed unsure how to continue but had our full attention. She revealed that she’d been receiving strange visions. Earlier when we’d entered the Crucible 3 office she’d seen Erin, with wind in her hair, holding aloft a sword. I reassured her that is must be her Banshee ability, Forbode, and that it’s nothing to be scared about. The next vision she relayed however spoke differently.
She’d been resting for the afternoon and had dreamed of the orphanage. She’d seen Sister Katherine’s body fall from the balcony, and as the rope around her neck sprang tight her spirit had dropped out of her onto the ground below. Her spirit stood up and looked around fearfully as black shapes emerged from the shadows and crawled towards her. The three spectres circled closer until finally they leaped upon her and she let out a scream.
That was it. We knew we had to go back. These spectres weren’t just killing people, they were attacking and destroying their souls. There was no one else who had the will or the ability to stop them. Dan hobbled his way out of the room, saying that he was going to tell Dr. Klein to put him under again. We’d have to wait until morning for him to be ready. But this time, with all four of us there, and with a little more preparation I knew we’d be able to stop these creatures.