Excerpts from the journal of Connor Galloway, an employee of Orpheus and member of Crucible 7.
Richmond Virginia, October 9, 2013.
Warren was back on the door this morning when I arrived. He nodded at me and smiled as I swiped myself in. There were already a bunch of people working and the whole office area had a positive buzz to it. I started walking towards the elevator but stopped when I spotted a maintenance guy applying the last few letters to a conference room door. It read, “Crucible 7.” Turns out we’ve got our own little office now.
A meeting table with computer ports in the center dominated half of the room and on the wall next to it was a large flat screen television. The other end of the room had a couple of desks, a computer, a couch and a coffee machine.
Dahlia arrived as I was looking about the room. She seemed just as impressed with the room as I was. I told her about seeing the ‘Church of the Sacred Mother’ and how there were spooks lining up with the regular folk. As soon as I said the word ‘spook’ the drawers on one of the desks started slamming open and closed. I jumped at the sudden noise and then again when I saw Dan’s reflection in the TV. I guess he’d been practicing his Horrors overnight and wanted to show off. I focused into dead eyes and saw that Markus was standing with him, they were both laughing a little at the prank.
I filled them in on what I’d seen of the Church and we agreed that it would be something to check out when we get the time. After that it was back to the case.
Markus had done some research overnight and pulled up an obituary on his laptop. He put the computer down on the meeting table and turned the small screen around to face us. Dan reached into the middle of the table and grabbed one of the cables, plugging it into the laptop. Immediately the picture sprang up on the large screen. “Hey, that’s cool.” Markus admitted, shrugging, “I’m not very good with tech stuff.”
The obituary revealed that Chris Overby, our PLE, had died in a car crash about 7 months ago at the age of 28 and was survived by his sister. Dan did a quick google search and found his Facebook page. Among the many grieving messages one stood out. A comment from one Sylvia Sullivan. Her page was private but we did find a couple of photos and her place of work. Capital One bank.
While we were searching Lisa knocked and entered the room. She asked whether we liked our new base of operations and sat to talk about our mission. We told her what we knew and about how we were unsure as to how exactly to help Chris. She reassured us and admitted that every PLE is different, but that it usually helps to simply remind them of who they are and aid them in their unfinished business. Before leaving she said that she would be available for horror training at 10:30.
We talked for a while after that and Dahlia brought up a news report she’d seen about an Arizona man who had been caught trespassing using some kind of ‘homebrew’ projection. Apparently there is a lot of debate and sweeping legislation about to take place as this is such a gray area of the law at the moment.
Soon enough we got a visit from Prator, who entered unannounced and took a seat. His coffee sloshed over the side of his mug as he set it down. He cut to the chase and handed us another mission. Needless to say we were all a little worried, we still hadn’t finished our first job and already work was starting to pile up. To make it worse this PLE was rated as ‘Red’. Hostile. Our concerns didn’t seem to matter much to Prator, he just shrugged it off and basically said, “this is what we hired you to do, so deal with it.” He at least told us that the sisters aren’t expecting us until tomorrow.
Again, I’ll just leave the mission briefing in here for reference.
After Prator had left we got into a bit of a debate. Markus on one hand thought it would be best to stay and train for the day to prepare us for the more hostile PLE we would be facing while Dan thought we couldn’t waste time and that we needed to get these missions done. He also suggested that real experience was probably better training than what we’d get from ‘the hippy.’
In the end we decided that Dahlia and Dan would go find Sylvia and deliver Chris’ message while Markus and I stayed at Orpheus to do some research on the next job. On the way down to the training room we passed the older guy with the bruises. He caught us looking and cracked a half smile, “Sometimes ghosts get pissed off.”
Sometimes hippies get pissed off too. Lisa was not happy to see only Markus and myself turn up for training. “I train crucibles not individuals.” She told us that this would be the only time she’d abide it, from now on it’s the whole group or none of us.
Anyway, I projected (it’s strange how routine it’s becoming) and watched as Markus learned how to ‘Stormwend”. It’s spirit teleportation really. One second he would be standing next to Lisa and then a red light would flash over him and he would be gone, appearing at the other end of the room. I noticed that when he vanished he would leave behind a small wisp of black vapour.
Once he had the hang of it Lisa left him to practice and began to show me how to Congeal. It turns out that the official term for our ghostly forms is ‘gauze’ and that as a poltergeist I can shape my gauze into objects. With a vitality boost from Lisa I eventually managed to shape a clone of this journal in my hand. Although the text was missing. It is truly an amazing feeling to picture something in my head and then will it into being.
Later on I experimented with this a bit more in my training session with Hollis. He started me on kendo swordfighting, saying he had spotted my tattoos and that he knew, “a couple of Asian styles.” I projected, manifested and congealed a training sword out of my gauze, which drew a rare admission of shock from the veteran Hollis.
We practiced up until it was time for lunch and I got a few minutes to myself to refuel and write this entry. I also managed to call Julie and give her the bad news that I would be out again tonight, she didn’t sound too pleased. Dan and Dahlia should be back soon.
Sounds like it was quite the eventful trip to the bank for the others. They had rung ahead to arrange a meeting with Sylvia and arrived right on time. As they drove into the Capital One campus Dan said he spotted a buff bald spook who was watching them as they passed. Dahlia met Sylvia on the steps outside one of the main buildings and delivered the news that we had spoken with Chris. While they spoke Dan spotted the spook again, who was now approaching them. He went to meet him halfway and the guy said something about a person called Bishop before attacking Dan. Luckily that Dan is no stranger to brawls. By the time Dahlia had handed over the rose, noticed the fighting, and returned to the car to project Dan had pinned his attacker to the ground! Dahlia calmed him with her wail and the two of them managed to get some more info out of him.
Turns out Bishop is a very dangerous spook and head of some kind of spook gang. He also has a grudge against Orpheus. This thug was under orders to attack Orpheus operatives on sight. Dan also got an address for if we wanted to meet him, but was told that it’d be his funeral.
At this point we were pretty confident we could close the first case, having delivered Chris’ rose and message. We were making plans for the night when Prator came in to check on our progress. Dan immediately asked his own question, “Do you know Bishop?” Prators smile disappeared and he stammered out a line about how Bishop is a urban legend. He did say that John Grimes from Crucible 3 had been looking into it.
“You’re doing a great job,” he said as he left. Dan’s reply, “Well someone’s got to.” I’m getting the impression that these two are getting more and more on each others nerves. It’s only our third day at work and the kid already hates his boss. I hope he can keep it professional.
We headed down the corridor to the office labelled ‘Crucible 3’ and found John Grimes. He’s none other than the older smoking man with the bruised face. His desk was littered with empty beer cans and an open pack of cigarettes lay next to his computer. He welcomed us in and when we asked about Bishop he asked us to close the door.
“Don’t believe what that shit-eater Prator tells you,” he started. Grimes seemed to think that Orpheus has some kind of dirt on Bishop, something bad enough for him to put out a call for random attacks. When we mentioned the meeting address he emphatically told us not to bother, and that Bishop is not someone you want to see.
After he’d told us what he knew he leaned over his desk conspiratorially and said, “between you and me. What you should really be looking into is something called Project Flatline. And what they won’t tell you is that there are some mean fucking ghosts out there called Spectres.” He opened another beer as we left and as we walked down the corridor we heard his smoke alarm go off followed by some cursing.
We spent the rest of the afternoon researching the orphanage case. It looks like the sisters were reluctant to seek outside help but that the Police convinced them to contact Orpheus. We briefly discussed whether or not the Church might have it’s own organisation like Orpheus.
Since we didn’t have much to do until the club opened Dahlia suggested I should probably head home for a bit. I’d been so transfixed on work and the mission that it hadn’t even occurred to me. I definitely owe Dahlia for this one, as I’m back in Julie’s good books. On the way out to the parking lot I passed Erin, one of the other members of Crucible 3. She warned me that Grimes is a bit of a loose cannon and that we should take his theories with a grain of salt.
The drive to the club was most interesting. We went in the same arrangement as last time, me in physical form with the other three projecting. Wanting to try out his horror on something bigger Dan inhabited the company car and drove while I sat in the driver’s seat and played along. We didn’t want to scare any one with the sight of a car driving by itself. We passed the Church of the Sacred Mother and I pointed it out to the others. There was no line this time, but a crowd was still milling about out front.
When we arrived at the club it was immediately apparent that word had got around about our activities. There had to be twice as many people packed into the Drink and many of them were obviously on Pigment. The bouncer spotted me and waved me to the front of the line. As I walked up I could hear people talking about me and those on Pigment were gaping at the other three. The bouncer was really excited to see me and asked if I had any company, grinning and looking over my shoulder as if he might catch a glimpse of my colleagues.
Inside it was even worse. I’ve never had so many people watching me. They kept coming up to me and getting photos and asking inane questions. Some kid with a backwards cap told me between burps that he’s psychic and thinks he has powers. I managed to find Paulo, who was swamped at the bar. He told me, “Job done! You’ve done great. Thanks”
I’d been to distracted by all the attention to spot them but Markus pointed out two angry looking spooks who were watching us from the mezzanine. They leaned in to say something to each other and then vanished back into the crowd.
Just as a deadhead was waving his hand through Markus’ gauze and shouting, “Can you hear me?” I felt the temperature drop. All four of us immediately looked to the back door and watched as Chris Overby’s face phased through it. After Dan’s attack earlier and seeing those spooks in the club I wanted to get out as quickly as possible. “Let’s get this done, troubles brewing,” I said, “Dahlia, you know what to do.
Once again Chris called out to Sylvia and the shout reverberated through the room. As it passed through me I felt a dull ache, like a sore tooth, but it quickly passed. Then Dahlia was there, humming her soothing song, and Chris turned to face her.
“Chris, are you looking for Sylvia?” His eyes brightened at the name, “I talked to her today. I gave her the rose.”
His voice was very human when he replied, “you did?”
“She said she understands. It’s time to let go.”
With that a golden glow emanated from Chris’ chest and the chill in the room was replaced with a calming warmth. The glow spread down Chris’ limbs and as it did he looked more and more normal, almost alive. He lifted his hands to see his fingers shining brightly and then he began to fade. Light filled him and his gauze began to flake off, drifting upwards and vanishing.
If the events of last night drew in this crowd then the stories of what just happened would definitely bring a boom to Paulo’s business. I looked around to see all the deadheads’ mouths agape, they wouldn’t soon forget this.
With the threat of angry spooks still lurking about Dan went incorporeal and scouted out the front of the building. He returned shortly, only saying “Let’s try the back.” Turns out that he’d spotted a group of five manifested spooks hanging around our company car. The car itself had been thoroughly smashed.
Glad to be out of the packed club I hailed a taxi and we headed back to the office. I’m starting to think that requesting combat training was the best decision I’ve made recently. This spirit business is more dangerous than I anticipated.