Thursday, March 31, 2011

Prologue: A Magic-User Speaks

Child, do not be fooled. Before the Azure Flames burned away the Old World, magic did exist. It was weak, suppressed, concealed, but present nonetheless. Even in the last days, when knowledge of it exploded, few believed and even fewer practiced what skills we could master. Those few that did believe, and did practice, were amongst those few who endured the Flames and emerged greater than they were before.

For a time, we flourished unchecked. Even if we were but reflections of the raw might of the Necromancer, or of the Archmage, the Master of the Stone or other figures that transcend fame and infamy we nonetheless were the vanguard of the rebirth of magical mastery amongst mortal men. We once more assumed our old places of prominence amongst our fellows, as we could command the respect of entities fair and foul alike that did not otherwise deem of worthy of consideration, and we wielded powers inaccessible even to the mightiest titans of industry within ourselves without need of tools or devices. Our knowledge, as we knew, gave us power and we used it to put ourselves over the many that could not or would not do as we did to adapt to the new world.

You know, child, of the Sons of Ken. You know of how they harried, harassed, stalked and slew many of us for nothing more than the fact that they fed off the power we had mastery over. Though now we co-exist, know that you will never be acceptable to them so put away all notions now of friendship- and don't even think about their women, as they are no less dangerous despite being otherwise like us.

Turn instead to the mastery of our arts and sciences. Learn to master your greater senses, now that you've gained access to them and transcended the common stock from which you spawned. Now see the individual motes that flow through the streams of power, and learn what one can do with just one mote of power. Now hear the natural rhythms of this power, how they wax and wane, and attune yourself to that sensation. Master the mysteries of frequency, and so much of the ancient secrets of sorcery will unfold before you as your minds expands to contain the truths of how Creation itself lives and breathes.

Our way is one of knowledge, not mere training. It is not enough to learn how to use this spell, that ritual or the very devices that brought you before me this day--and though I am long passed from this plane of flesh, before me you are nonetheless; this too is an application of frequency--but you must master the principles that govern it all and then master the techniques that allow you to wield your will to make Creation do as you will. We are not simple spell-casters and ritual-workers, but engineers of Creation itself; your pursuit of oratory and music are as important as your study of physics and chemistry, because only through the honing of the whole of body and mind will you develop the capacity to master magic as we alone have done.

This is the way of the Masters of the Sky-Blue Kingdom, the Lords of the Inner City, and you my child are now my apprentice. You have already entered yourself into the gatekeeper's register. Step upon the encircled dais and proclaim your readiness to the monitor. I await you on the other side.

--Roger M. Ire, Immortal Master Magus-Engineer of the Academy and First Founder of the Twin Cities of the Sky-Blue Kingdom.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What's To Come: A Story of Scientific Sorcery

"The Promises We Keep" ended early. I've had to pull up something else to fill the gap. So, for a time, we're shifting gears to tales of sorcery and intrigue in what would succeed the Necromancer as the rulers of what becomes of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. This is not fantasy magic; this is what magic would be if a cadre of well-educated, well-trained and experienced scientists and scholars seriously took up the study and practice of Western-style High Ritual Magic and did so in that same skeptical, scientific manner. What I will depict in future posts will be that milieu, where mundane and magical principles--the exoteric and the esoteric--merge into one greater whole.

If you need a hint, you can start by watching Tron and Tron: Legacy again and follow that up with re-reading The Red Star.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Promises We Keep-Part 10

Part Eight: Endgame

I turned the hospice into an abattoir. Mary’s minions all over the hospice flooded towards me in vain attempts to protect the woman who held the keys to their million-dollar paycheck, and I took great pleasure in cutting them down. I unsettled them with my grim grin of satisfaction as I shot them dead with my gun. I terrified them with hysterical laughter as I slashed and stabbed them to death with my knife or hatchet. Soon they ran. Then the slaughter began in earnest, for always in the rout does most death-dealing occur.

The gang members fled, and as they fled they panicked and fired their guns without care for who or what was in the way. The close quarters of the hospice allowed me to play to my strengths, so I hit quickly and slew swiftly before I slipped back out of sight to reposition myself. Then I did it again. I did this repeatedly until every last gang-banger slumped to my feet, dead or dying, blood spaying all over the place.
I let a couple live, because they would lead me to her. She recognized this as soon as they got to her and shot them for their incompetence. I did not immediately go after her, but instead stayed aloof for a time. I did so because I recognized that to solve this properly, I could not stop with Mary; I had to get her entire family, which mean reaching out to that place called “Morocco” somehow. I waived to one of the many machines watching me and motioned for my friend to contact me. I asked her to put forth a call to Mary’s husband, connecting me into the call and showing him what’s going on.

She did as I asked, and moments later I had both husband and wife where I wanted them.

“Hello there,” I said, as I closed in on Mary, “it’s about time we talked.”

“Who are- oh, my God.” He saw from that vast distance that I stalked his wife. “I know who you are. What are you doing?”

“Protecting mywoman from yourwoman- from you.” I said, “Because that’s what this is really about now, isn’t it? You using your wife and my friend as proxies. You’re a coward.”

I heard the gasp. That wordless expression of “What are you thinking?” came through loud and clear. Good.

“Oh yes, I had you figured as soon as I knew your role in this scheme.” I said, “You’re a bankster, and just like your wife you like your deniability- and, for you, that’s something that includes playing your wife like a sucker so you can keep your hands clean.”

I kept Mary in line of sight, but concealed from her.

“See her? She’s getting her hands dirty. Right now, the cops are on their way here to deal with a mass shooting that she brought about due to personally handling the hit on my friend. She’s got bigger balls than you do, and you’re content to let her suffer and die for your ambitions- aren’t you?”

I leveled my gun at her and took aim. I made certain to show this to this dickless wonder of a man.

“Yet, right now, I can fuck you over right good and all of your planning won’t mean shit.”

“No, wait!” he said, but I just didn’t care anymore. I fired.

The shot hit Mary in the hip. I fired again and hit the opposite leg. A third shot crippled her shooting arm. All the while, her husband could do nothing but watch.
“STOP!” he yelled, but I shot Mary one more time in her other arm- just to be certain. Then I approached her as she slumped to the floor, bleeding and helpless. I kicked away her gun, pointed mine at her head and then put my device so that Mary could hear us talk.

“Say hello to your husband, you back-stabbing bitch.”

“Help!” she said.

“She’s not dead yet, but you wire me the funds and we’ll call it a day.” I said.

“WHAT?!” they said, harmonizing.

“You heard me. A deal’s a deal. You wanted a clean get-away, and I wanted the money for the hit. You’re rid of a bothersome bitch, and I’m rid of you. Win-win, buddy-boy, just like you said. You’re not going to welsh on me now and play the Indian Giver, are you? I found you once; I can do it again.”

“John, you asshole!” she said, “You cut a deal?”

“No, honey, I-“

I shook my head in mock disbelief. “Yes, he did. Why do you think he fled as soon as you got into trouble, and took the kids with him, to a place where the government can’t touch him? Why do you think he didn’t fight harder to get you to come with him? He’s just like you, Mary. He’s got to have at least one woman on the side, probably with him right now; he’s as much of an opportunist as you are, so he’s got to keep his options open.”

I then called up an image on my device. I quickly mocked it up to appear as if the transfer of wealth went through, and then showed it to her- knowing that she’d not catch the forgery. The look on her face as she finally experienced—if it was illusory—being on the wrong end of a betrayal made me beam wide and bright; my smile could’ve lit up the room.


I heard him stammer something, but I didn’t care to listen. Facts, at this point, couldn’t save the Creator Himself so why bother? Mary went on about the usual post-birth body adjustments and how she worked so hard to keep him satisfied and so on. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Once she finished her tirade, I piped up.

“No turning back now, pal.” I said, and I looked up at the devices that my friend used to keep an eye on all of this. I shot her an inquisitive look, and she broke in on the call to answer.

“Gotcha, suckers! Finish it, Ken.”

I executed Mary then and there, and then I hung up on her husband. Sometime later, after I did some creative editing, I made the record look like the deal was between him and one of the gangs; he got killed as revenge by Mary’s side of their family a few days later- her mother still had friends far from home.

As for my friend and I, we escaped official notice. I took her the now-abandoned home of Mary and her husband, gave it to her and she resided there until the Azure Flames consumed the Old World in its entirety. I kept my promises all right- to her as well as myself. In the years to come, that bond would become the foundation for a renewed commitment to a very old way of life. I only regret that my dear old friend could never become my most beloved wife; because of her, I became a stalker of monsters- the Father of Stalkers.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Promises We Keep-Part 09

Part Seven: Commitment

At this moment, Mary held the commanding position. She had the initiative, with her only real obstacle being her inability to reliably track me or my actions. I had to use that to my advantage, and to get anywhere I had to use it to seize the initiative from her. As I expected her to assume that I’d come for her directly, I knew that I could knock her off-balance by coming at her indirectly. That revelation led to an obvious solution: I ratted her out.

I took all of the information that I possessed and collected it into a complete and conclusive report that—through a proxy—I got into the hands of the authorities. I knew that I could rely on those in power to act quite negatively to the idea that they’re dealing with a murderous madwoman that they cannot control, so when I heard that a public inquiry into “allegations” of Mary’s connections to my dear friend’s assault and the “alleged” perpetrators began then I knew I’d gotten what I wanted.

Through proxies and other means, I kept my eyes and ears on her from a distance. I laughed as she fumed over one witness after another testifying as to her previous actions at the provider, in various schools, at association functions or wherever they encountered her explain—under oath—how she used and discarded people to get what she wanted. I enjoyed her frustration as one record after another got put before an assembly of “peers” to add weight to the accusations made by the witnesses. I danced a merry jig when this assembly demanded access to Mary’s records for her wealth and searches of her home, office and a few other key places.

It was at this time that I realized another of Mary’s flaws, which was that she did not fully understand the tools that she used every day of her life. You see, reader, at this time we had an array of marvelous tools and yet most of us had no idea as to what they were actually capable of doing. In part this is because those that made the tools, and those that sold those tools to us, lied about it. But, really, most of us were too stupid or lazy to bother figuring this out for ourselves.

Mary made no effort to master her tools. This attitude was commonplace amongst her family, and of her class of people in general, so I was not surprised. She had no idea that the device she used to communicate with others had the ability to record her conversations without her knowledge, or track her movements without her knowing either. I did, and I had the means to turn on the hidden switches that let the authorities do this to people. Of course I did just that, and that I saw or heard I passed on to the authorities. This created a feedback loop of frustration for her, as she kept ranting at her husband about how the authorities found out about things she wanted hidden- including her use of the privileges of marriage to conceal the fact that her husband was in on the plot to take over the region’s health care system through using the bank he worked at to ensure the election of allies into positions of power in the government.

Once I passed that information to the authorities, her husband took their children and fled from the area. They went to a far, far away place where the authorities had no power—officially—to demand the return of Mary’s family. (At the time, that was a place called “Morocco”.) Mary did not flee with also to avoid undue suspicion, and to finalize preparations for transferring all of their wealth elsewhere to protect it from seizure by the authorities. She also realized, at last, that I had to be responsible for all of this misfortune somehow. Since, again, I could not be found she decided to target my dear friend; with her husband’s aid, she placed a king’s ransom of a bounty upon my friend’s head.

I knew that this would happen. She fell into the trap that I devised, and now came the time to close it. I heard her send out the word to all of her contacts in the criminal community, starting with the biker gangs and the street gangs, but that would soon spread to others not affiliated with her- those are the most dangerous sort, as they are either utterly incompetent or seasoned professionals and thus (in their own ways) very difficult to deal with. I passed that along to the authorities, who now had a clear and present charge to make against her. Unfortunately, she moved faster than they did and escaped from an arrest at her home by fleeing before they arrived and disappeared from their notice.

Not, however, from mine. I really got her mad this time, and she still had her device on her, so I knew where she would go next and that was to the hospice to personally kill my friend. I still remember the moment when, having gotten there first, I confronted her. She and some gang members from crews who owed her infiltrated into the hospice and made their way to her room. I already moved my friend to the Panic Room in the basement, where she could direct me remotely if necessary, and put up a doll in place of my friend.

She stabbed the doll, and once she realized that she’d been duped she ordered her boys to fan out and find her. Once alone, I stepped out of my hiding spot under the bed and quietly stood up.

“You went to a lot of trouble to find me.” I said, “You could’ve just posted a notice.”

This freaked Mary out, so she turned around and pointed her gun at me. I wasn’t worried, for I already had a gun of my own out and pointed at her.

“You should’ve killed me when you had the chance.” I said, “Now? Now I fulfill my promise- something you can’t ever do.”

She backed away towards the door, still open. I fixed my gaze at her and carefully aimed my gun to hit right between her eyes. Just as I fired, she ducked behind the wall, and then I heard her scramble down the hall. I did not rush to pursue her, but I did follow.

You see, I learned a lot before the Azure Flames hit. One of those lessons was that before you beat a living foe in the flesh, you had to beat them in the mind- and that meant breaking their will to resist. Fear—and yes, terror—are key means of breaking that will. This is what it means to be a stalker. It was not enough to simply shoot Mary. I had to break her first, and to do that I had to stalk her. Once she ran, the game was afoot and a long-desired victory was now within sight.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Promises We Keep-Part 08

Part Six: Reassessment

I did not waste any time. I assumed upon making that revelation that I did not know what I needed to know to make this right. I turned my attention to Mary’s life over the last 15 or so years, but the trick was figuring out how to learn what she got up to during that time without revealing myself to her. I needed to form some sort of cover that would keep her, and anyone working for her, distracted while I hunted down information regarding her recent past. I could not figure this out alone, so I went to the one I knew I could trust: I went to my dear friend.

I made my regular visit to her in the hospice as I usually did, making every effort to avoid being seen as changing my pattern of behavior. This time, however, I brought with me a small device. I had a personal music device on me, and I carried also a pair of secondary devices that would allow the music to fill a room with ease. When I saw her, I set up the devices and sat very close to her; again, I masked our conversation from those nearby. I also looked about the room using the player to search for any undocumented listening devices; I found a few, and muffled them by moving the fixing to cover them. Now assured of our privacy, I spoke freely.

I quickly got her fully informed as to what’s going on, and what I need to do next. She nodded her ascent, and she told me to let her handle it. I agreed. I returned a few days later to see a large pile of paper next to my friend’s hospice bed. My friend told me that she still had a few favors to call in, so she used one—under the guise of forming a complaint against the insurance provider—to get all of the public records on Mary Redalen. As I read them, I saw some things that I already knew, but also I saw that the pattern of deniable accidents of rivals and enemies had begun far earlier than I ever knew.

My own misfortune, from Mary’s perspective, was as ordinary as receiving a gift when one got married. The authorities’ records on Mary went well into her youth, and someone got hurt or worse at or near the same time that she got herself something significant that she wanted. The authorities got suspicious of her when the three students at her school died in drive-by shootings before graduation, but ultimately blamed it on the girl right behind her in the rankings due to stronger evidence of ties to street gangs, and Mary went on to graduate at the top of her class. This, I must say, is despite being suspected of leading a gang of thieves that broke into homes during the day.

They looked at her again when a rival for her lover at the next level of education turned up dead in a corn field, but dismissed it when the evidence arguing for the victim being raped and murdered by a disturbed local man held up under scrutiny and that arguing for her involvement did not. Then, as she trained as a law expert, Mary ran afoul of the authorities when one of the masters accused her of cheating; that fell apart when illegal pictures of children appeared in the accuser’s possessions.

The pattern now appeared, plan as day. Mary wanted something. Either someone threatened her acquisition of that, or someone stood in her way. Because she either lacked the ability to resolve it peacefully, or she lacked the character to do so, she conspired to have that someone destroyed. Often she manipulated others to do her work for her, leaving her in a place to deny involvement and get away with it. I now found myself lucky that all I blocked for her was a more desirable lover; I alone survived her lethal attentions. Yet, for all that this information did to fill in gaps in my knowledge, it still did not answer the questions before me: what does she want, and how do I threaten that?

To answer that question, I now had to dig into Mary’s recent past and present. Public records showed that she took a husband, and that she birthed three children, as well as receiving permission from the authorities to work as a law expert. As she came from a rich, if declining, family this was not at all unexpected. However, I found the answers to my questions when I discreetly inquired into her time at the insurance provider as well as in public service. Mary’s work displayed a rather subtle pattern of self-aggrandizement, of perception management and a keen appreciation of what made her look good to her superiors. In short, the work of a status-conscious pyramid-climber, much like many others that sought power and profit for their benefit and no one else’s.

Mary now held a senior position of power within the power structure of the insurance provider. She had to acquire more easily cowed opponents, so I scoured the little-trafficked areas of our land to find them. It took quite some effort, but I found them; I found them, and I found records of their rants, often done while drunk. Resentful men often speak the truth when freed from restraint, and drink does that loosening of restraints very effectively, so I listened and read. Then I followed up on the leads that I found therein. On a hunch, I followed up Mary’s professional associations; there I found more ranting by more resentful people.

They resented her ambition. They resented her willingness to, literally, sacrifice others to feed her appetite for power and prestige. They resented her ability to avoid accountability, and punishment, by using proxies—and many of them were proxies that she used and discarded—and blame the victims. Yet they feared her, because they knew of no one that survived doing so; therefore, when I read that she entered into secret negotiations with the authorities to acquire a monopoly on the management of medical provision to the area and that her enemies within the company started dying shortly after they moved to block her from doing so, I knew that this was the thing she wanted so badly.

I also soon realized that she knew that I lived, but had no idea of how to get to me. She wanted me dead because I was the living, breathing proof that she was not invincible. She failed once, and now I could galvanize resistance to her merely by being known to’ve suffered her attentions and survived. I now had the clear picture as to what was really at stake here: the control of life and death by Mary over everyone else, because if she succeeded then she would seize total control over the provision of all forms of medicine in the region and she would use that power to propel herself to total tyranny over all.

I threatened that by mere dint of living. She targeted my beloved friend to draw me out. If I had not put those motorcycle gangs at each other’s throats, one of them would’ve ambushed and killed me by now. I realized that my window of opportunity would not stay open much longer. I had to act, and act fast, to put this threat down permanently for the good of us all. It was time to settle old accounts.