Excerpts from the journal of Connor Galloway, an employee of Orpheus and member of Crucible 7.
Richmond Virginia, October 8, 2013.
I woke early and told Julie to stay in bed while I made tea. Really there was something I had to take care of. The revelations from yesterday have shown me the spirit world in a way that I could have never imagined and I think I could probably give up the Pigment. I Managed to find a dealer here in my first week, a black guy in a suit calling himself ‘Wheezy’. I went to meet him at a local club and I obviously stood out like a sore thumb because he approached me almost immediately. Anyway, I think I’m done with it. Dead eyes is so much clearer. I took my meager stash from the hollowed out book and flushed it.
Besides, I really don’t need to go down that road again. One trip to rehab is enough for a lifetime.
It’s about 5:30 now and I’ve got a minute to eat and write so I figured I’d do another entry for today.
The morning found us practicing something called manifesting, which is the act of bringing our spirit forms into the real world. Dahlia and I couldn’t see the others when Lisa began the class and asked them to demonstrate the basics to us. It seems that being sleepers has given them plenty of time overnight to practice. Lisa produced a small mirror and asked Dahlia to look into it. She gasped and turned to look into the empty space next to me. When it was my turn I found out why. Peering into the reflection I could see Dan, as clear as day, standing next to me. He waved. Markus was next and as he manifested a ball of soft red light appeared, hovering at chest height above the ground.
Lisa then told us how the different abilities were tied to our Shade. I’ll list each of ours here.
Wisp: Markus showed aspects of the classic Will-o-the-wisp tale from European mythology. Wisps manifest as the classic ball of light and possess the ability to hypnotize people as well as teleport around the spirit world.
Haunter: Dan on the other hand was classed as a Haunter, which is named for the tales of haunted houses/cars/telephones, you name it. Lisa told us that he would be able to inhabit inanimate objects and manipulate them as he would his own body. She also mentioned a dangerous ability nicknamed the ‘Witch’s Nimbus’ where a Haunter could create electrical currents and immense heat.
Poltergeist: Turns out I’ve got the German ghost story, complete with the ability to move objects about with a form of telekinesis. Lisa also mention something called ‘Congealing’ which involved forming items such as crowbars, guns or knives out of my spirit body.
Banshee: Finally Dahlia was named as a Banshee. True to the old Irish tales she has a powerful voice that can influence a listener’s emotions or be turned into a powerful blast. Lisa also mentioned a strange ability called ‘Forbode’ which isn’t well understood by anyone at Orpheus. The way it seems to work is that Banshees can sometimes gain blurry glimpses of future events, or clear images of true past events.
I commented on the amazing fact that these archetypes can be traced back to ancient legend and then Markus and I got a little sidetracked. We started talking about the possibility of projectors being around for centuries and all the tales of astral projection and outer-body experiences. I didn’t mention the crash… Anyway, it seemed that the others weren’t as interested in our tangent and Dahlia had to draw our attention back to the training at hand.
Dahlia and I both projected much easier this time, it took maybe five minutes. A slight improvement over the hours of meditation yesterday! Again I felt myself crash through the barrier and get kind of buoyant. With the whole crucible Lisa outlined our schedule for the day. First we would be heading to one of the training rooms to practice manifesting and then there was a meeting with Tyler Prator at 12. Right on lunch time, great timing for a meeting. She mentioned that If I have some free time I should call in to Harper Hollis’ office to discuss the personal training I’d requested.
Out of the Yoga Room we walked, trying our hand at phasing through the door as we left. We were led back through the Level 3 foyer and down a side passage. One of the first doors opened onto what appeared at first to be a well equipped gym. Closer inspection however revealed some strange additions to the set up. The RC cars in one corner, a crate full of lego blocks, and paper targets hanging against one wall spring to mind. Lisa had to leave and decided that it would a good binding experience for the Sleepers to teach us Skimmers how to manifest. Surprisingly, Dan took charge straight away and ran us through the visualization, sharing vitality with us in order to give us the little boost we needed to manifest. In no time Dahlia found that she could speak and have her voice heard all around the room, echoed from all sides. When Dan gave me the boost I felt a hyper awareness that seemed to focus on certain objects. A chalkboard, a pencil and paper, a computer keyboard. The chalk began to move and managed to write ‘Pi’ before I snapped the connection. I don’t like to admit it but I’m kind of regretting flushing my stuff…
We chatted for a while and I told them about what I saw while ‘Dead Eyes’ last night. It turns out Dahlia probably knows the viet-hobo ghost I saw and named him as Billy, a former patient of hers. I told them about the red star and Dahlia suggested it might’ve been a Wisp, like Markus, which got us onto a debate about breaking the laws of physics. Markus and I spiraled off on another tangent and only stopped after a few minutes when we realized Dan wasn’t at all interested.
Lisa returned to complete the Manifestation training, showing us how we could move completely into the physical world. In order to achieve this Lisa had us sit in a circle, hold hands, and close our eyes. We then shared vitality through the entire crucible which resulted in a strange flash of visions. Looking down at a pair of delicate hands as they tucked an elderly man into bed. The lights of a carnival spinning overhead. Then the smell of freshly cut grass with a hint of paint. Then a whistle sounded and my eyes shot open. Just looking at the others, I could tell that they had experienced it too. Lisa was beaming at us as we sat there, now manifested fully, and said, “Wasn’t that beautiful?”
It was strange standing up, feeling more grounded but still somehow hollow, and knowing that my actual body was meditating two rooms away. It seemed some of our Shade traits carried over to our Manifested forms. Dahlia’s hair and clothes seemed to float as if she were underwater, Dan’s eyes were tinted yellow and he had a sickly pallor to him, Markus looked like he was standing in front of a lamp with the fibers of his suit and his hair shining. I checked myself in a mirror and was a little taken aback, my eyes were more sunken and I just looked really mad. On the way out of the room Dan casually punched one of the tackling bags that was standing free in the middle of the room. At his touch it flew backwards a few metres and slid across the floor. He looked down at his hands, equally surprised by his strength as we were.
Off we went to meet with Prator and on the way the regular Orpheus employees gave us a wide berth. As we walked through the halls I saw something disconcerting. A flicker crossed Markus’ face revealing a bare jaw bone for a split second and his body seemed to lag (for lack of a better term). Parts of him would pause momentarily before snapping back to catch up with the rest. Having seen a lot of strange things in the last two days I wouldn’t have thought it worth mentioning, but Dan and Dahlia didn’t exhibit anything similar.
Prator arrived five minutes late clutching a folder titled ‘Crucible 7’. He took one look around the table at our manifested forms and said, “I never get used to this.”
He told us the meeting would have to be short as he had things to do. Dan asked, “What do you actually do here?” A little on-the-nose but a very good point if you ask me. Especially considering his response of, “I administrate and oversee Crucibles 3 and 7.” What a dodge!
He quickly moved on to the business at hand. It turns out that Orpheus was fast-tracking us, skipping the usual two-week training regime, and sending us out on our first mission. We were all skeptical about our ability to handle it but Prator simply said we were learning fast and that there was pressure from higher up to get another Crucible operational. He left us to read the mission briefing.
I’ll just leave the printout here.
We were discussing our intitial thoughts on the mission when someone asked what the new drug was called. I probably answered a little too quickly as the groups eyes all locked on to me. I tried to brush it off but I must’ve done a terrible job of it. “So I’m guessing you’ve shot up?” Dan asked. I figured they’d find out eventually and I’d kind of dug myself into a hole so I confessed. A few times. I’ve experimented.
Luckily for me Lisa came in and interrupted any follow-up questions. She wasn’t her usual cheery self and Dan asked her about an argument that he’d overheard outside with Prator. I hadn’t heard a thing, probably too busy reading. She didn’t seem to like the fact that we’d been rushed into field work but smiled and told us that we would be fine. The PLE (Post-Life Entity) that we were being sent to deal with was a blip, classed green. An easy assignment apparently.
Since the job required us to go check out a club, The Drink, we decided to stay at Orpheus for the afternoon and Lisa was more than happy to give us a quick crash course on actually using our ‘Horrors’. It was sink or swim, she said, so I think she was reassured that we wanted to get a bit more of her training before we headed out.
Back down the elevator to the gym and we began learning about the skills I detailed earlier. After a bit of practice we were each managing our basic horrors with some ease. Dan was melting his spirit form into RC cars and driving around the room. I lifted a swarm of lego blocks from their crate by creating strands of energy from my hands that stuck to each block. Lisa brought in a very unwilling test subject for Markus to mesmerize and lead around the room with his light. When he was done and the man (Frank I think, or was it John) seemed fit to burst with frustration Lisa had Dahlia sing to him which calmed him right down before he left. Then Dahlia turned her ‘Wail’ ability on one of the punching bags and after a few half-hearted yelps she gave it a real scream, which buffeted the bag before tearing it apart.
We were all pretty exhausted after a few hours of practice and Dan suggested we split up for a rest and meet in the foyer, ready to go, at 8. As Dahlia and I returned to our bodies we spotted the smoker that we saw yesterday. He was obviously projecting, seated in a meditative position, but his face was covered in nasty bruises and he was sweating. Lisa sat next to him with a cloth, wiping his face periodically.
I took the opportune break to go meet with my trainer, Harper Hollis. I found him in his office where his considerable bulk was hunched over a computer. It looked like he was taking notes from some martial arts video. He noticed me enter and introduced himself. We talked for a minute about how I wanted to learn to defend myself and about my complete lack of experience with both firearms and fighting in general. He seemed very warm and eager to get to work. I told him I needed an hour and we planned to meet later.
I tried calling Julie but she didn’t answer and I had to leave a message. Clearly she wants to stay on side with the new boss. Hopefully she won’t be too worried about me getting home late.
Firearms was the first session with Hollis. Basic gun safety stuff. Trigger Discipline, always treat it like it’s loaded. “It’s a magazine, not a clip,” he warned me with a smile on his face, “you don’t want to sound like a noob.”
I took my first shots ever and was sufficiently terrible. Hollis was very happy with the lesson however and made sure I had his number to organise our next one.
But now it’s dinner time, and I’m very interested to see what the cafeteria here is serving today.