Fragmented Files from Cyclic Order

My llfe Is ashes.
Ihave betrayed everything I ever believed In. My career is in ruins. My family lies dead by my own hand. All because of Winternlght. Because of the monsters, the inhuman flends who made me KILL KILL MY FAMILY KILL THEM ALL DROWN THEM IN BLOOD DROWNING l’M DROWNING
No. Not inhuman. All too human-in the general sense of the word.They are our own twisted reflections, the dark sides of every race of humanity. If they were truly inhuman, Icould not have become one of them so easily.
No matter what it costs me, Iwill die a free man. Wlth my family gone, no one else can be hurt by the disclosures in this file. And I must expose the truth in all Its awful detall.or the whole world will die. Idon’t know how and Idon’t know when … they have people working on more different ways of destroying life on Earth than most of us have ever imagined … but they Intend it to happen soon. Ican’t do much to stop it-only shout a warning and hope to God someone hears. If there is a God.

Someone has to believe me. That’s the only way Ican make up for what I’ve done. I’ve done things … terrible things. Some of them I can’t remember. Some things I remember all too AFRAID J’M AFRAID THEY’RE COMING TO KILL ME CANT LET THEM FIND ME RUN RUN HIDE HIDE IN THE DARK DIE IN THE DARK
The chip. It’s done something to my mind. Ihave to stop this
… have to focus , get all this down. send it where it might do some good. Got to control myself.
Three years ago. I was appointed director of the UCAS Army Special Assets Division. Special Assets tracks down. handles and stores weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons , chemical, biological … all the horrible tricks humankind ever managed to pull out of its collective bag before the Awakening brought us magic as the new tool of choice by which to destroy one another. IN FIRE IN BLOOD IN AGONY THE UNWORTHY WILL PERISH IN THE FLAMES
The fugues are getting worse. I may not have much time left. Iremember watching the trucks at the toy company. Toronto. that’s where it was. A few people with me … colleagues. friends

Voices over the headset. Seeing through a cold camera eye. Gray gloves … they kept carrying boxes of toy cars around. wear­ ing heavy gray gloves. I knew what the gloves meant. Shielded gloves. Keep the poison out. the radiation.
How long ago? I can’t remember. Did the chip do that, too?
Or have they already gotten to me? Wiped my memory of all but a few fragments … oh God, if You’re there, please make that not be true. Make it not be true,God. If Ican’t tell this story . Ican’t atone,and then I’m damned BURN IN HELL BURN LIKE THE REST THE WORMS THE ANTS THE VERMIN COWER IN THE DIRT WITH A LL THE REST AND SCREAM WITH THE PAIN OF THE FIRE
Early in 2055, an intelligence analysis crossed my desk. A
small toy manufacturer in Toronto had received a small shipment of nuclear material. We placed them under surveillance. hoping to find out who or what was behind them before sweeping in and making arrests. After months of fruitless watching. several pounds of nuclear material arrived hidden in a shipment of plastic resin. We traced the material as far as a warehouse in Nairobi. Kenya­ which burned down two days after we confirmed the address. Where the contraband originated prior to Nairobi remained a mystery. I know the answer now. of course-but none of my superiors are likely to believe me. Those that did would be killed instantly by Winternight agents. anyway. KILLED DEAD BLOOD BLOOD EVERYWHERE WHY WONT YOU STOP SCREAMING STOP STOP STOP
I can’t tell anyone in SAD. This is the only way to get the warning out.
They kept changing the boxes. I remember that. The Urban Brawl T-shirtr-that was the funniest one. So many trucks, so many little towns … it was cold all the time. New England winter. Always hated winter in upstate New York . Philly. Boston … so damned cold. Our van kept breaking down. None of theirs did. I remember Jake saying it must be magic. Right … a “charge bat­ tery” spell.
Where did we end up? All I remember is driving endlessly after panel trucks in the cold and blowing snow ICE THE WORLD
I remember poor Hauser died. Congenital heart failure. He found out the unmarked van·s registration numbers were bogus. Dead a week later.
The final shipment-labeled as a state-of- the-art trideo set with all the accessorier-ended up at a private house. I don’t remember where. The person renting it was a travel writer and part-time researcher at MIT&..M. Nothing about him suggested anything out of the ordinary;he had no record of political involve­ ment, and nothing about any of the datawork that we could find appeared to have been faked. The only odd note about the house or its inhabitant. aside from the arrival of the nuclear material. was the heavy magical shielding around the building. None of our agents could penetrate it.
I remember being somewhere very dark and cold. So cold. my fingers went stiff. Down … I remember moving down. walk­ ing down a slanted floor. No. a passage.Cold. hard rock under my feet. I couldn’t stop shivering COLD COLD AND DARK AND DEAD DEAD SMOTHERED SUFFOCATED CLOSED IN OH GOD THE WALLS THE WALLS THEY’RE GOING TO FALL ON ME
Coal mine. Iled the team into a coal mine. It was late … dark
… quiet. In an airshaft halfway down a disused passageway. almost entirely blocked by rubble from a long-ago collapse. we discovered eight nuclear weapons. They were covered with mag­ ical inscriptions inlaid with orichalcum.

We arrested 58 suspects. of whom 51 knew nothing about nuclear material or weapons. They knew only that certain anony­ mous people had paid them good money to drive a truck from Point A to Point B. or to type in a false entry on a shipping mani­ fest. None of them held particularly well-paying jobs. When offered a chance to make a year’s salary or better with one simple act, they jumped at it. The remaining seven suspects suicided under questioning.
I prepared a report-such as it was-and submitted it to my superior officers. Three days later. in Cincinnati on an inspection
tour, Iwoke to find myself tied to my bed in my hotel room. Four men were in the room with me, one of them bending over me. He clicked a chip into my datajack ,and suddenly Iwas a god.
Absolute power. Absolute certainty. Swinging a gleaming axe at the heads of my enemies. They died in fountains of blood. Ilaughed. My friends laughed with me. Laughed and danced and drank. We still lived. We were the chosen. We would live forever and ever. Amen.
Why does It hurt so much to cry?
The chip was gone.He took it. Ifell from Heaven.plunged into the depths of the Inferno. Cold, empty. desolate. Someone was whimpering like a whipped dog,blubbering the word “please” over and over until the sound died away into sobbing. When my eyes started burning, Irealized the one whimpering was me.
The man who’d given me the chip-he was slender, well­ dressed. with smooth dark hair and gold-rimmed glasses-­ promised me Icould have another taste of it if Ilistened very care­ fully to what he had to say. I listened. I tried not to breathe too loudly for fear the noise might keep me from hearing his every word.
When he talked, Iheard the flutter of birds’ wings. His shad­ ow on the wall looked like a raven. His hair was just the color of raven feathers. Funny.
He told me about Wlnternlght. Winternight wants to destroy the world so that they can bring to life the old gods of Norse myth. They believe the Awakening has made the world ready for the gods’ advent-all that remains is the final act of preparation. the creation of Ragnarok.
Ragnarok is the ultimate war of destruction. Every living thing must die In this battle. so that Winternlght’s Elect can use the overwhelming power of the sacrificed life-force to transform the world into Midgard and themselves into gods. Everyone who has ever knowingly aided them. even those not among the Elect, will become gods as well, as a reward for their deeds. Not even death will keep them from transcendence.
Nuclear winter. That’s one way. Or biowar. Ali the food crops all over the world, dying. Then the rest of us die of starvation. Slowly. Our agony pleases the old gods. The slower we die, the stronger they become.
Ebola … was that one of theirs? Ican’t remember. Probably. They’re fiends. I know they have scientists working for them. Would-be gods designing microbes to dissolve innocent flesh into dead nothing.They ‘re monsters.
I’m a monster.

My friend with the chip told me that Winternight wanted me. Iwould be useful to them . If I was a good boy and did exactly what they told me, Icould have the god chip to play with some­ times. That’s what he called it-the god chip. Whenever Idid a really good job for Wlnternlght . my friend would send me a god­ chip with a self-destruct. Just enough for one dose, then PFFFTI He promised I could have that if I joined Winternight. Otherwise they’d have to kill me. He looked so sad when he said that-
The recruiter gave me two drones, little plastic ovals that moved on tiny, vectored fans. No distinctive parts or markings-­ they could have come from anywhere. He said Icould contact fel­ low members using the drones … but only some of them, only the ones he told me to contact. He said he would tell me every­ thing Ineeded to know, whenever Ineeded to know it.
When I got back home from Cincinnati, Angeline asked me if I was coming down with the flu. Iwent to bed and stayed there for three whole days. dreaming of being a god.
For the next few … months? Years? It’s all so fuzzy in my mind … I got word every so often that certain things needed doing. Certain reports discredited or mislaid, certain connections downplayed. certain people transferred from one assignment to another. Sometimes they sent credsticks, with orders to hire shad­ owrunners for jobs here and there—datasteals. sabotage. I never saw any of my contacts. They sent instructions via drone. and I sent word of my accomplishments the same way. Sometimes a plastic drone brought me a god chip. I lived for those days.
Idestroyed the drones one day. Someone had been talking to me, I remember … soft voices. kind voices. saying I couldn’t help it, Iwasn’t to blame. Addict. What a harsh word … addict. Almost as bad as crazy. Psycho.
But Iwasn’t a monster, not really. That’s what the kind voic­ es told me. They gave me strength. Strength to destroy the drones … to write down, late at night. alone In my study. every­ thing Icould remember about what Wlnternight had done to me. The memories came hard … disjointed fragments that I almost couldn’t believe were real. Yet Ikept on. knowing Iwas working against time. knowing they would strike me down for my treach­ ery sooner or later.
Then Leslie disappeared.
Poor little girl. gone between school and home one after­ noon. I remember Angeline looking at the clock over and over and over. Five. Six . Seven. Eight. No calls. No word.Ten. Cali the police, Luc.ius. Now. now. I’m sure she’s all right. Things have been a little tense around here lately-she’s just acting out a lit­ tle, that’s all. She’ll call soon. just wants to give us a little fright. Wants a little attention from her old Dad and Mom. Please,Lucius. It’s almost twelve. Call the police. What kind of a father are you?
Angeline called the police at twelve-thirty a.m. I went out to look for Leslie. Got in the car, started drlving-
1 was standing in a strange hotel room, dizzy and sick, my vision blurred by a terrible headache. Someone was standing
behind me.holding my arms. Leslie’s body lay on the bed In front of me. Her drying blood soaked the sheets.Only her face was still intactyes wide, mouth pulled Into a grimace by the flsh hooks holding her to the mattress.
On the dresser were two new message drones. A voice told me to pick them up. My friend with the glasses and the chip. He said Leslie’s death was punishment for disobedience. If Ibetrayed them again, Wlnternlght would arrange horrible accidents for the rest of my family. They had spared my life only because Iwas still useful to them .If Iceased to be useful. my son Jamie would be the next to die. Then E.llzabeth and Jerry and baby Tommy, then Angeline .
He told me in graphic detall what they had planned for Angeline . I’m glad I can’t remember any of It.
Idrove stralght home. like they told me to. Iknew they’d be watching. Angeline was crying In the bedroom. She didn’t stop for a long time.
I went to my study. My notes were gone. They’d taken everything. But they didn’t know what Iknew. Iknew how to flght them. To battle the monsters, Imust become one.

E.arller this evening. Ikilled my famlly. Ishot them all, quick­ ly and cleanly. Wlnternlght won’t have them. Then I came here and made this Ille. They thought they got everything. but they didn’t. They didn’t get my mind. Not all of it. I remember enough to damn them all. If someone listens and then goes looking In the right places. It’s all Ican do to stop the monsters now.
After I flnlsh this post, several kilos of C- 12 plastlque will destroy this terminal and kill me. Winternlght won’t have me either. And they won’t have this Ille. My warning will go straight to Shadowland. Someone please. please heed it and do some­ thing. E.verything I’ve said Is true. I’m not crazy. I’m not. Winternlght exists, and they will kill everything unless you stop them. Stop them.Stop them .

Fragmented Files from Cyclic Order

To Live and Die in LA... mrtim