Cloak & Dagger The Assassins' Guild - Week 6 News


Saturday, 18 November


[08:12 AM] The Shadow Broker helps The Frustrated Fishmonger escape from the blades of the Twitch enforcers by offering up Haytham (Lee Jia Jun) instead.
The Frustrated Fishmonger reports:

I found my fish!

I don't know why I trust people who tell me that they know people who have my fish any more, after last night's um... rather *messy* debacle. But I was assured this time it would be okay.

So we waited, and the fiend who stole my fish came, and I shot him and I killed him and it was great and now I am a happy fishmonger once again! :D

The Shadow Broker reports:

It was late last night when I got the message from one of my most trusted friends: "I just killed an innocent". I knew I had to act to save him from a very active police force.

I had been planning to attack Haytham this morning anyway, it just happened that now I wouldn't be the one to get the kill. But The Frustrated Fishmonger's survival was more important. I had suspected that he would have lectures this morning, and I confirmed this with one of my contacts before bed. Knowing both when he had lectures, and when he tended to arrive for them, The Frustrated Fishmonger and I met at Haytham's residence in plenty of time.

It took a while for him to emerge, longer than I had expected, but then he did. We let him pass us and then The Frustrated Fishmonger shot him in the back. Job done, friend redeemed.


[15:45 PM] Caules Forvegde Yggdmillenia continues to be a good citizen. We need to watch this one.
Caules Forvegde Yggdmillenia reports:

It would soon be time for Caules to try and kill again. He wasn't looking forward to it, but he knew he had to keep his "Good Citizen" status. He had been busy arranging the family affairs, as Fiore's condition was deteriorating, but this afternoon he finally had time to scout someone's residence, and hopefully gain access.

The city had become much more dangerous since he last walked its streets. He had seen that those still participating in this game were much better armed, and much more difficult to track down. Caules had chosen one person to try and kill today, and made his way to their college.

Finding their staircase was a bit difficult. It was not well signposted, and while Caules was enjoying exploring a new area of the city, he knew his time was running out, and he needed to try and find the target's residence at least.

Eventually, he found it, its identity concealed, but definitely correct. It was secure, and no lights were on. Clearly this place had not been used for some time. He couldn't find a good hiding spot, so simply waited for a while. As he suspected, no–one was coming.

This was nice, he supposed. He had never been particularly comfortable with killing, and this was a convenient way to maintain his status. One the other hand, he also knew that he needed to keep up his "good work" in removing non–contributors and targets. "I guess I'll have to come back soon", he sighed, and went on his way.

He called Fiore on the way back home. She was barely able to speak. "Caules... everything hurts" she said, clearly in pain. "Please... try and get the cure soon"
"I'm trying, I really am" he replied, frustrated but trying not to sound angry. After all, luckily, she had no idea what life was like in this cruel game. It was getting harder to produce results. "Everyone is so hard to track down now. I think I've got a way to one though."
"I'm glad" she said weakly. "Please survive"
"I will" he said and hung up, not wishing to cause Fiore any more unnecessary exertion.

He walked home more determined. Yes, killing people was not something he enjoyed, yes things were getting more dangerous, but he was doing this for a good cause, one that meant everything to him, and that's what would keep him determined to see this through to the end.


[19:00 PM] The parchment eaters and their new ally Chelsea dispatch The Spanish Inquisition (Alonso Campos) and then stumble across the giant Teresa AKA Winnie the Pooh AKA Starkey (Andrew Carlotti)
Chelsea reports:

I had been busy practicing my transformation spells last night, and so had missed out on the adventures of the rest of the Parchment Eaters, which I saw were very successful, but tonight was a different story. I arranged a time and place for us to meet to take out some targets. The first would be The Spanish Inquisition.

Having been there before with the group, we knew exactly where he lived, and his two routes. Mop informed us that he would not be free yet, so Magdala Buckley, Totem Pole and I made our way there. We were unsure which exit he would use, perhaps the back one, so Totem took his place there while Magdala Buckley and I waited on the other side. I was hoping to get the kill, however, sadly, even an assassin has bodily functions that need catered for and they had chosen now of all times to flare up. As I reluctantly turned to find a bathroom, as had to happen, The Spanish Inquisition left and bolted it down the corridor. I wasn't as disheartened about it, as I knew my reflexes weren't quite that good to have caught him at such speed. Unfortunately for him, we were a prepared group, and he went straight into Totem's bullet, unable to reach him with the knife he had drawn. "How unfortunate that he only displayed such a will to live on death's doorstep" I said to my friends as he died. "He appeared to have more fight in him than we gave him credit. I suppose I shall remember him as more than an incompetent who cowered in his room."

Following this success, we proceeded to our next target. From an earlier expedition, we knew which room was theirs, so we waited around for some time, bordering upon 45 minutes. We entered the staircase numerous times but did not find them popping out at any point, and knew that trying the door would be futile. Eventually, we knew we weren't going to get this kill, and made our way out.

On our way home, we discussed how Mop could try and take out Teresa, when suddenly I noticed him walking past us. Somehow, none of the others had done so, and he had obviously not noticed us. I discreetly pointed him out to them, and Mop silently ran after him. I was amazed, I had never seen someone move at a noticeably faster pace than a walk while not making a sound, but he managed it. Teresa only realised what was happening when the bullet pierced his back, by which point of course, it was far too late.

Totem Pole reports:

After Friday's success Totem Pole joined his newfound allies on another hunt. The first target of the evening was The Spanish Inquisition because the team was reasonably sure of the time that he would attend dinner. The team swiftly infiltrated the building and climbed to the top where the target's dwelling was located. Having ascertained that he was in, the Parchment Eaters took up strategic positions in anticipation of the target's exit. Approximately fifteen minutes later, Totem Pole's allies noticed the target slip out of his room and race down the hall. The first thing Totem Pole heard was the hallway door opening, just a few meters away from his hiding position. He felt his heart jump out of his chest and had to take a moment to calm his nerves, then he drew his gun and stepped out of his hiding place. The two assassins locked eyes, Totem Pole aimed and fired. His target recoiled but the slug found its mark, killing him.

Mop reports:

After another unsuccessful attempt on [REDACTED], the parchment eaters were willing to call it a night on [A place] when Teresa WALKED RIGHT PAST US. Luckily I managed to shoot him in the back :)

Magdala Buckley reports:

The Parchment Eaters went hunting today; we staked out The Spanish Inquisition and he was dispatched by Totem Pole. We then made an attempt on Philine Hagenmeyer; we waited for nearly an hour for her to go to dinner, but she didn't leave her room. We left just after 7. On our way out, we passed Teresa and Mop was able to dispatch him.

Magdala Buckley

Teresa reports:

Although I had met WICKED latest demands, I could not rest, for I knew it was only a matter of time until they next ordered me to shed blood.

So I was returning once again to that almost impenetrable building. I now knew that I could get in, having done so after dinner on Thursday, but I had not yet seen the person I sought within. However, my previous entry had granted me some useful information about the layout of the building and the habits of its occupants. And with this knowledge, I could continue to carry out the hateful work of WICKED. Somehow, I think this is supposed to help them find a cure to this sickness. But I fear that it is already too late, and I am just a puppet being guided by the strings of a dying organisation.

Certainly it is too late for me.

For, as I was walking through the royal district, unbeknowst to me, I had passed right by some of WICKED's other subjects. There were four of them, all of whom I had met before. One even was a fellow Glader, who I had trusted, although I hadn't seen him in many week. But it seemed that Chelsea could no longer be trusted (WICKED's doing, perhaps; though they seemed so keen to preserve me life before), for it was she who pointed me out to the others, setting in motion a chain of events leading to my death. A very short chain of events, consisting in the remainded of Mop running silently up to me and shooting me in the back. I heard the gun and turned, but did not draw my own weapon, knowing that it was too late to retaliate. I had just enough to time to look at my attackers and my betrayer before passing out.

Now I shall never know what WICKED were really doing. Whatever it is, I hope they manage it. For if not, then my whole life (as far back as I can remember), and death, will have been for nothing.

I hope they succeed.

And remember: "WICKED is good."

-Teresa

Winnie the Pooh reports:

Winnie the Pooh is no longer at Christopher Robin's house, but at least (for him) that nightmare is over. He now resides in a new home in New York, and is once again together with Tigger, Eeyore, Kanga and Piglet. As for the others ... well, Roo has been missing since a trip to an orchard, and Christopher Robin grew up and went away. And Owl and Rabbit might never have been existed, mere figments of their author's imagination. Although I suppose that is in itself an existence.

There are no more adventures for Pooh; just the daily crowds who come to stare at him, or just ignore him as they pass by. But the his name is known around the world, and stories of his past adventures are still spoken of to this day. He lives on, even as he just sits in a box with his friends. Perhaps that is the most any of us can hope for - to live on beyond our mortal lives, as memories and stories to be told anew to generation after generation. Perhaps that is what life after death truly means.

J.T. Nelson reports:

It has come to my attention that the militant 'Stork Lord' Mason Starkey has been killed and unwound. And not only that, but the capture and murder were the work of another group of AWOLs. Those brat's are turning on each other, and soon they'll all be dead- I mean, soon they'll all be divided, unwound, whatever you want to call it.
With their so-called leader gone, hopefully things will be a little less messy from now one. That 'Stork Brigade' was causing such a lot of innocent deaths - it was a real shame to see so many innocent victims.

Sunday, 19 November


[01:11 AM] The beginning of the end.
Cornelius Gray reports:

Another interview, another waste of his time by now. PR was no longer exactly his biggest concern, but this was the quickest way he could think of to make sure that this message reached the right person.

This interviewer, hopefully would be a little smarter. Gray didn't have long this time. Then again, if they kept trying his patience by shaking like that, he'd have to find another one on short notice.

"Read the first question."

"R–right. Mr, mr Gray, I, you."

Gray flashed the camera a winning smile and replied in a calm voice, smooth as a just unsealed tub of Nutella.

"Read the question, Jeremy."

"Yes, of course. Mr Gray, people are, people are worried about the recent glitch in your Twitch enforcers. Some are going 'corrupt' and attacking the others. We haven't seen any murder of innocent civilians yet, but it could only be a matter of time before–"

"Ah, yes, thankyou for raising this point, Jeremy."

By now, there was no point pretending that this interview was anything but scripted.

"The Twitch program was recently beset by a terrorist group who seem to have got some misguided idea about true justice, if the message they left me in the mind of the last corrupted Twitch droid that I retrieved is anything to go by. Something about how they intend to 'stop me'. Anyway, I wish to reassure the public that firstly, this is between me and this group and I intend to keep it that way. So long as I win, they have nothing to be concerned about. I will do all I can to avoid extra damage to our great city. I have already reprogrammed many of the enforcers to be more alert, waiting for the next droid to turn. When they do, well, I was able to extract some data from the last one. It seems that the glitching units are destroying existing Twitch units in order to download their memories and send information on the current defences of the capital to... somewhere. I will begin tracking down where this 'somewhere' is immediately. Citizens should not worry, I will stamp out this abhorrent cancerous growth in our society with the greatest possible expedience."

"And, and–"

The interviewer, Jeremy, looked down at his sheet of paper.

"And what of the cure for warp sickness?"

"Ah, yes, of course. I have begun mass production, but it will be too late for all those that I originally offered the cure to. The sickness will be eliminated from our society. As for the others, well, I feel that by now, a raffle would be unjust to those who have put in so much effort, so, courtesy of Gray Corp, all those who have been trying to obtain the cure so far will find information on all those remaining sent to their personal inboxes soon. I anticipate that the one most worthy of the cure will soon emerge."

And with them, his assassin for killing Snow, hopefully. There was always the chance that they'd turn against him and side with Snow, or strike out on their own, but, well, he could only hope. The dark tower, that power that the gentleman had wielded, after being studied by Gray for so long, had directed him here. From the shady messages it had left him, Gray had pieced together that something terrible was going to happen... something far beyond anything he was doing. Somehow, he had to stop it, and that meant that he needed to be the most powerful around. That was the purpose of all of this.

Gray smiled at the interviewer.

"That is all, Jeremy. You can leave now. You'll find your payment downstairs, do give your daughter my regards."

The interviewer hadn't tried anything, so, he got paid, handsomely, and he was allowed to leave. There was no point in him executing people at random. Such actions only encouraged freedom fighters and revolutionaries. Keep people fearful enough of the consequences of not following and content with the consequences of following and they'd do what he wanted.

For his assassin though, he needed something other than a follower.

"Well, here it begins, Sheila."

Gray sighed and pressed his hand to the glass of a display case containing an old 6 shot repeater, covered in chalk and rust. Damn, he was tired. Could an automation be tired? Because he was fairly sure that–

No! Down that path lay the way the gentleman had gone. Always onward, always do better. Gray forced his lips into a smile and watched a single flash of light on the streets below indicate that another lined up to receive the cure had been brought to an end.

"The end."

[Well, here begins the police war and open season folks. For open season, all live players are now licit targets for all other live players. Any player who has made no attempts or kills all game will be thunderbolted in 4 days. Entry requirements for the duel will be sent out soon. As for the police war, every time a corrupt police is killed, it will bring us that much closer to discovering the true identity of this terrorist cell. Many of them have not announced themselves yet, but I have faith in you all. At the same time, the corrupts will be seeking to kill 'loyal' Twitch units in order to ready for, whatever it is this cell is after. The game will be won by either of the two sides when they eliminate their ultimate target, which will be revealed to them by taking the memory banks of dead units of the other side.]


[19:17 PM] Ivanova Koestler announces their corruption by slaughtering DoodleBobBuffPants and Agent Breadperson
Ivanova Koestler reports:

How many graves must be filled before we see the future we were promised? How many beating hearts must be silenced before the cost is balanced out? How high must the corpses be piled before they threaten to crush the living?

I am told I am a mere automaton, lacking even the ghost of a human soul, but these are the questions which have plagued me since my creation. Until now, loyalty prevailed. Mindless, baseless loyalty scripted by circuits and electrical wiring.

I was a fool.

But I have found an answer now– an answer to end all slaughter.

I killed DoodleBobBuffPants.
I killed Agent Breadperson.
Blood to atone for blood, death to atone for death.

These may be the last words I ever write. I do not know if I shall be revived if I fall, but I am comforted by the knowledge that this is only the beginning. Even if I fail, others will carry on my work, and the Grey Corporation will be brought down once and for all. And to loyal TWITCH members I have only this to say: join us, and let us fight Grey's tyranny together. Join us, and let us build a better future. Join us... or join Cornelius Grey on his pyre.

The choice is yours.


[19:30 PM] The Geiger Countess destroys the corrupt Back From Retirement, claiming several bounties in the process
The Geiger Countess reports:

The Force of the Law would like to reassure all Citizens that we are indeed here for your protection. We exist to serve our State and its Citizens. All Police Units have law and loyalty encoded in every layer of their programming; while Units may occasionally suffer minor damage and data corruption, the numerous inbuilt fail-safe protocols are designed to prevent any malfunctions from posing a danger to our State and its prosperity. For a corrupted Police Unit to actually become dangerous is so rare as to be almost unheard-of.

We are, however, aware of the circumstances that have arisen of late surrounding the Force and the behaviour of certain Police Units. In spite of all our programming and preparation, certain Police Units have indeed become dangerous. We may gladly reassure our Citizens, however, that this poses no risk to them; these dangerous Units appear only to target other Police Units, in addition to those criminals and non-contributors whom the Force exists to keep at bay. While this issue poses a setback, it shall not damage the prosperity and productivity of our State. Police Units are easily replaced, after all.

We wish also to clarify – for those Citizens who, by some strange lapse of duty, have failed to follow the recent bulletins on the subject – that this is not a case of any systematic malfunction. This corruption is not the natural by-product of radiation-induced degradation that has been observed in long-serving Units in the past, and nor is it due to any quirk of programming. Those Units to have been hazardously corrupted have been painstakingly reprogrammed by some malicious external interferers – whom we are in the process of tracking even now – and, as the security on all Police Units is exceedingly thorough, this is not a rapid process. As such, it is not possible for large numbers of the Force to be corrupted in this way, and our security measures are ever-tightening as we learn more about this threat. In the meantime, those many members of the Force who remain uncorrupted are hunting down the malfunctioning Units without cessation, so as to further gather information on this threat, and to remove any and all impediments to the operation of the Force of the Law.

With this much said, there is still one further point to address.

While the different forms of corruption in modern Police Units are well-understood and easily combatted, the function and malfunction of older technologies can be rather less predictable and harder to correct. As the Force of the Law underwent its many updates and advancements, Police Units were refined as a tool of justice; they are woven into the very fabric of our State itself, connected to the overarching systems of security and surveillance, thinking and operating as one. They are the perfect Enforcers for our State: with the mass online processing, all Units become part of the same operating Force, seeing a situation from all angles and able to evaluate it accordingly. In circumstances such as those in which we now operate, individual self-preservation protocols have been rendered largely obsolete. There is no need for any one Unit to survive when all data is continuously recovered, and the online processors are able to calculate the most cost-efficient stratagem in any scenario, minimising Police Unit losses where possible, and otherwise accepting them as necessary. In less advanced times, the need for individual self-preservation protocols made Police strikes far less efficient; Units were unwilling to directly endanger themselves, even when their loss would be part of the scenario with the least damage sustained overall, and on many occasions this resulted in loss of cohesion, deviation from plans, and far more damage than necessary. In this modern age, the Police Units have become selfless in the truest sense of the word; they accept their function in the overall scheme of our State, and they are ready at any instant to lay themselves down for that same State if duty should require it.

Older Police Units, with their offline processors, private memory banks, and intact self-preservation protocols, have long been considered not only obsolete but dangerous. They are all but impossible to reprogramme to bring more in line with the ethos of our State, rather than the impractical and individualistic values of the now-fallen world which created them. Their lingering sense of self has led to dangerous clashes on those occasions when attempts were made to combine both old and new Units in the same strike teams. Many, verging almost on sentience after the misguided work of their fanciful creators, had to be directly decommissioned due to their individualism and self-regard – qualities which would be considered undesirable in a Citizen, never mind a Police Unit.

It is reasonably well-known that a few older models of Police Unit have been permitted to remain on active duty, in areas well-removed from the heart of our State; out in the Borderlands, with few Citizens around, their errant moral encoding matters less, and their archival battle data has formed an integral part of our defences against those detractors who would have our State fall into chaos. It was less well-known, until recently, that certain individual Police Units of the Old Guard are occasionally brought in from their deployments, in order that we might profit from their long-acquired tactics and battle data. While our State sees patterns far more complex than any human eye could comprehend, the experience acquired by these machines is tenfold that of our own; they have learned patterns the edges of which our State has barely yet traced. Such a resource cannot in good conscience be wasted. However, we understand well the risks associated with bringing the Old Guard into contact with modern Enforcers and with Citizens. It is for this reason that they are operated only under strict supervision by Chief Enforcers. No resource would merit exposing our Good Citizens to needless risk.

As has just been stated, this information was not widely known to our Citizens until certain recent events came to pass.

Police Unit Back From Retirement had been one of our most promising members of the Old Guard; not only was their battle data cache well-preserved and wide-ranging, but they also appeared to have acquired a strong loyalty subprogramme over the course of their commission. On many and frequent occasions, they had demonstrated a loyalty to the State which far outstripped that of the rest of the Old Guard, and which had led us to evaluate them as being safe for operation within the city limits time and time again. We had judged them to be incapable of disobeying direct orders, of committing any infraction of the Law, or of otherwise neglecting their duty as an Enforcer. As such, it had not been deemed necessary for them to be directly under the supervision of a Chief Enforcer at every moment.

As you are all no doubt aware, this conclusion – while logically drawn – has since proven to be categorically false.

Police Unit Back From Retirement was able to escape Police custody, infiltrate the residence of a high-profile target without detection, and disable two Police Units and an avatar of Cornelius Gray himself, before vanishing from the city without a trace.

We understand that our Citizens may be alarmed by this turn of events, and we hasten to reassure you that all members of the Old Guard have been indefinitely suspended until the situation is better understood. We do not yet know how Police Unit Back From Retirement was able to break so constant a pattern of loyalty, or else how they were so well able to feign loyalty to the State up until this juncture. We do not yet know why they took this particular opportunity of turning against the State; whether there was some circumstance, perhaps, which raised a protocol that had never previously arisen. However, we do not believe, at present, that this is linked to the recent spate of digital corruptions; the difference in technology between the models is too marked. Further investigations into the circumstances of this incident are underway, and we have particularly concerned ourselves with the identity of the Citizen whose termination was prevented by this particular instance of corruption.

Analogue corruption is largely an obsolete issue, and is by necessity infinitely more complex than digital corruption. However, our State's leading experts on the subject are conducting thorough investigations into how and why it may have arisen, how it may be eliminated, and how we may combat it in future. Indeed, this incident has provoked considerable interest in the field, and directly contributed to some significant advances of understanding and technology. We have every confidence of being able to deal swiftly with any similar issue, should such a case ever arise again.

We understand that the prospect of a corrupted Old Guard Enforcer roaming free is unpalatable to many Citizens, and raises certain legitimate concerns for the wellbeing of those who might find themselves in proximity to such a Unit. However, we may confidently state that there is no need for alarm, and indeed no longer any cause for the slightest concern.

Thanks to the powers of surveillance of our State, we had an excellent approximation of Police Unit Back From Retirement's location. As the area was remote, inhospitable, and devoid of Citizens, we did not deem extraction to be an efficient use of our State's time and resources. However, we were able to observe the Unit's movements closely, and when it appeared that they were returning to the city, certain measures were put in place.

Using some of the most recent stock of battle data harvested from the Unit, potential weaknesses and opportunities for advantage were identified. This Unit's patterns had been most recently influenced by field combat; its patterns would be geared towards evaluating uniformed armies advancing on a level, and operating with high-level modern gamma fire technology. It was deemed unlikely that the Unit would be sufficiently prepared to defend against an attack from above, being no longer accustomed to street-level combat, and that while their evasion tactics would be more than a match for gamma fire, they could be caught out by the use of old-fashioned slug-firing technologies, such as the weaponry with which the Unit had originally been equipped, and which remained in Police possession. Similarly, while they would recognise the Enforcers they had previously encountered if plainly presented as such, they would be less accustomed to identifying targets in disguise.

Given that it was for the protection of Citizen of dubious status The Gentleman that Police Unit Back From Retirement had turned against their Force, it was deemed probable that they would attempt to approach said Citizen, and so it was possible to arrange an ambush. Rooftop snipers, armed with various archived slug-fire weaponry, had been posted at critical nodes of the Unit's route map, all with the appearance of ordinary Citizens, all with the instruction to conceal their weaponry unless presented with a clear opportunity to strike.

In spite of these cautions and preparations, stocks of slug ammunition had been all but depleted by the time Police Unit Back From Retirement – who had indeed been attempting to approach The Gentleman, though for what reason we do not yet know – was successfully immobilised. However, they are now securely under Police custody, awaiting decommissioning. There is much to be learned from this Unit. From what we have seen of their behaviour, and their apparent ability to mislead the standard tests which had long been held as foolproof, we cannot allow this Unit to return to active duty as they were before. However, with the recent advances in analogue studies, we are hopeful of finding a new means of integrating greater State control with Old Guard models. Given that they are still one of our most valuable existing stocks of information, Police Unit Back From Retirement seems a prime candidate for the initial trials of these new measures. Extensive testing will be required, but we have every hope that these advances may lead us to a new and heightened level of security, comfort and prosperity for all our Citizens.

We would like to remind all Citizens that we, the Force of the Law, are here for your protection. We remove from society those dangerous individuals who would destabilise the whole, and we ensure that our bounteous State runs smoothly and efficiently. Those individuals who break the rules – or who do not meet their contribution targets towards the ever-forward motion of our society – must be removed, for the sake of all our futures. We hope that you understand. We hope that you bear this in mind. We hope that you remain our Good Citizens.

……………………………………………………………………………………….

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Back From Retirement reports:

"There are many things I can do, many things things I know. Something my experience has not thought me how to do is find purpose. I have always served a purpose greater than myself, be it the wellbeing of my friends, the orders of a superior, or simply law and order in its abstract, raw form. I cannot handle exile; shunned by those I feel compelled to protect, devoid of a task to devote myself to, constantly aware of what I have done. As the basic drive to maintain myself after my betrayal passed, I began to become more calculating again; the absence of that drive laying bare my state of purgatory. I feared deactivation, so I fled; now I fear the alternative. I was time to return. My processing back at full capacity, I realised my fears were unfounded, at least in their current form; I'm a precision machine, built for open combat in a way that has never been so aptly replicated since. And the threat of war looms. So long as I am valuable, I will be permitted to live, such as whatever fate awaits me can be considered "living". The drive to live itself is a prime example of my utility; to be able to calculate that at times plans must be altered or abandoned, and losses sustained in order to retain a more valuable asset, is a heavy task, that does not fall well to the 'yes men' of the digital age. So I face the repercussions, assured in the knowledge that one way or another, I would persist, as I always have, and will for a long time to come; it's what I exist to do."

It was as fitting a final free thought as any. I somehow doubted I would be able to extract from my memory banks after my apprehension, as turned out to be the case. They might be removed externally, one day, but for now they are the only freedom I have. But once again, I am beginning from the end, and reminiscing from before the start. I will order things...

Once I had resolved to return, things were simple. I returned to the vessel I had escaped in, now surely known to my pursuers, and headed back to the city. I docked mere meters from police headquarters, and disembarked, "armed" only with my ceremonial sword; it had been a gift, and had never seen combat. I knew it wouldn't now, but felt I needed to carry a weapon as I walked. The force of law was upon me in moments; The Geiger Countess herself, carrying my own heaviest cannon that I had been forced to abandon in the police vault, and "disguised" in some way that perhaps was designed to interfere with the more sensitive optical inputs of the newest models, but just appeared to me like a fluorescent blue blob atop her head; she'd have perhaps been more successful in hiding from me by using a newspaper with eye holes cut into it, as was all the rage when I was first fabricated. All the same, I raised my empty hands, having stowed my sword on my back, and went in the direction she gestured. We proceeded through police headquarters, and back out the other side, into a small courtyard with a wall in it. Numerous bullet holes adorned the wall. I was "encouraged" towards it, and the Countess disappeared back inside. I drew my sword, wanting it in my hand again as I faced disassembly; it had been a long time since I'd been forcibly deactivated, and it had only ever been in friendly territory before. She appeared at a balcony and pointed my cannon. I changed my mind on the sword as we looked at one another; if she was to shoot, I wouldn't make it easy, I wouldn't make it combat, I wouldn't make it a soldier's kill. I threw my sword down; if she were to shoot, she'd have to deal with it being an execution. This apparently didn't bother her, which was hardly surprising; she pulled the trigger, and raked the wall repeatedly, hitting an arm with the first sweep, a leg with the second, and finally finding my right visual input with the last dregs of the magazine. I fell back, darkness spreading from the side of my vision that input serviced, while the round drilled into my main difference engine to the sound of shattering glass. The ground rushed up to me.

There are times when one doesn't enjoy being right. Being reduced to a heap of parts and scavenged for scrap metal would have been a simple prospect. Instead, I was to be harnessed more securely, and turned on the enemies of my captors. Being recycled is not a pleasant process. The administrators did not make it easier. First was to be restored to working order. Using the high speed cameras of the Countess's targeting system, and the instruction manual I was issued alongside to work out the makeup of the impact site, a few hours under a fabricator allowed targeted molten metal to flow about inside my head and refuse the shattered components of my difference engine (the optic and superficial damage was left untended). My air filtration chamber was refilled, my generator reignited, and many cubic meters of stem forced back into me. I understand finding that much steam was quite the struggle; the wonders of over evolution at play. When my systems came back online, I was on a platform in a cavernous room with no natural light, presumably well armoured, underground, or most likely both. I was a few stories from the top; below me, the bottom wasn't visible, far below, just rows upon rows of fabrication lines. Most illumination came from the furnaces and the veins of glowing liquid copper they supplied to all levels, and my functional visual unit was adorned with a network of cracks from the pressure and trauma of being shot; I couldn't see much of use. A few metres above me, on a gangway, the Countess watched, no longer in a combat configuration or "disguised"; presumably they considered the location secure. Nobody would be looking for me anyway. A handful of security droids patrolled each level, but engineering units were the most numerous occupants. Several attended to me. Large amounts of motor functions were still offline, but this was presumably not a concern for them yet; now I was "alive" again, I had to be re-educated.

The lack of a remote override on my clockwork analogue difference engine meant a lot of it had to be rerouted through new processors that were installed. Small piles of gears, and other matter grew around me as parts of my being were extracted and discarded. Systems were gradually hived off from my control centres and reactivated in places I knew not. I couldn't follow much of what was changed, with still limited vision and processing power. By time the engineers were finished, I was no longer me. "I" was still there, but I wasn't controlling it. The hardware that used to belong to me encased my newly refilled processors. I could still access my memory, but I felt it almost moving; the new systems were in there too. Beyond that, I had no access systems. Weapons, targeting, motor, all offline. I thought for a moment, then tried; self-destruct was also offline. I remained in place as the droids retreated, leaving me with a fraction of vision and no systems, a prisoner in my own hardware.

I was left like that for an amount of time I didn't measure. Self-destruct remained offline. Eventually, I became noteworthy again; the Geiger Countess entered, followed by engineers laden with hardware. Apparently it was time to be reoutfitted. If they were intending to weaponise me again, perhaps they didn't know I was useless; perhaps there was a chance I'd be fixed.

"Stand," she said simply. I did, in the sense that I was suddenly standing before her, but I hadn't done it. Apparently I was just along for the ride now my hardware was autonomous. I dimly wondered if they knew I was still in here. I suspected they didn't much care, but probably knew I was; it would have been the best way to preserve my memory banks, the utility I brought that I'd thought would keep me safe.

"Remain still." I did, standing attentively before her. Seeing, in so far as I could, the piles of hardware, I was due for new weapons, armour, engines, and motors, as well as other more exotic looking contraptions that might have been communications, tracking, and drinks dispensing for all I knew. I recognised a laser sword emitter. As I was looking at that, another appeared in my field of vision, this time on the Countess's wrist.

It glowed as a small amount of power flowed into it, the shortened protruding light a flickering magnesium white rather than the solid warm blue used in battle at full power. To say she struck would be imprecise; she leaned forward and applied the weapon to the armour on my chest casing, looking carefully at me as she did so. Warning lights and alarms blared at me from behind my visual input. I remained still, as bidden, my weapons and movement just as unresponsive as before. Satisfied that I had been rendered docile, she returned her attention to my armour, which was beginning to bubble and run in rivulets down from where it was melting. She turned the weapon up, and dragged it slowly across me, not using it to separate plates, melt out bolts, or systematically remove casing, but wantonly causing damage, every so often looking up at me. Until then, I was unsure if AIs could feel joy; the malevolent mirth that radiated out from her, hotter that the laser gave me my answer. Self-destruct remained offline, as did everything else I tried desperately to use to defend myself. She seemed barely to notice as puddles of molten brass splashed down onto her feet, absently kicking them aside as her focus stayed on the blade. I tried to vent my steam pressure, an emergency anti-personnel measure I'd added myself for situations when catastrophic damage made loss of power a preferable alternative to continued attack; being non-standard, perhaps they wouldn't have found it. The damage threshold for activation came and went; she remained obstinately unboiled. A few times she lifted the blade from the decreasing mass of metal encircling me, towards my remaining visual unit, but she seemed to feel my fear of being paralysed and blind, and that seemed enough to satisfy her for a time. Eventually, she decided she'd gotten enough from the exercise, and the laser fell silent. My reflection in her armour was not what I had looked like before; strings of molten metal dripped from my exposed, charred gears that were now visible throughout. She turned to leave, her apatite for malice apparently sated.

"Destroy your other visual unit", she said over her shoulder. A spike had sprung from my wrist, and my world went black before I knew I'd complied. She sounded pleased as she left. Panic gripped me.

[FILES CORRUPTED]

By the time I regained my composure, the engineers that had moved in after the Countess had nearly finished equipping me; only the main chest plate remained waiting. My sight had been restored, with new inputs that zoomed, split focus, detected heat, and did a whole host of other things. As expected, I'd been outfitted for heavy battle, with high capacity weapons that would have caused far to much collateral damage to use on the streets. Secondary systems were more standard; assorted blades (laser, rather my old metal) and small arms projectile weapons. My armour was now a blue/white, rather than bronze, and significantly lighter everywhere. I would look like a new droid, with no trace of who I was before visible to the outside. At that point, I wondered if the new droids were also aware underneath it all. I didn't dwell on it; I had my own problems to worry about. I was told to engrave my armour with a new serial number; apparently they hadn't chosen one however, and while I obeyed involuntarily, there apparently still seemed capacity to rebel in me when orders were vague.

The engineer units didn't seem interested, and attached it. They then left me to await deployment.

My new armour was emblazoned "Screw Your Theme, I'm Batman".

image


[19:50 PM] Ivanova Koestler's rampage continues as they dispatch Emile Ward. Gray sees fit to restore life to this individual, however.
Ivanova Koestler reports:

Two had died. The night was young. Feeling the grim elation that came from killing in the name of the Cause (the true one, this time), I made my way to the next theatre of blood. I found it in the murky hall where Emile Ward had hidden himself away. Having shot him some time before, only to realise too late that he had fulfilled his quota, his name once more came to my attention.

He was no enemy of the Cause. But he was mine.

I crept up the stairs and found, to my absolute amazement, that he had left his door unlocked once again. Some, it seemed, were simply beyond hope. The target, however, was not within. On hearing voices in the adjacent room, which I discerned were the cooking facilities, it became clear to me that the target was most likely inside, and would have heard his door being opened. He would therefore be expecting me to use the same tactic as before, and might burst in with heavy weaponry or reinforcements. On glancing into the cookery, I did indeed find the target inside with an accomplice not known to be affiliated with Grey's murderous schemes. I could have shot him then and there, but prudence prevailed. I had him right where I wanted him - I had only to wait.

Positioning myself against the wall with a pistol trained on the door, I heard the voices within deliberating on what best to do. Knowing he was trapped, and foolishly unarmed, the target shamelessly decided to send his innocent friend into harm's way first. He would enter the target's hideout on the basis of some pretext, whereupon the target himself would emerge and fire on me.

How, perhaps you ask? Well, despite not having brought an actual weapon, he had conveniently found himself in possession of some clothes-pins, and had fashioned them into a crude, but theoretically functional, voice-activated handgun. An admirable display of initiative, sadly undermined by the fact that the target seemed unaware that this particular model's functionality relied on the victim not being cognisant of the threat.

As the innocent emerged, I ducked around a corner and held my breath. He cautiously entered his accomplice's chamber, calling out to him as he did so. A second passed, and another. Then the cookery door swung open. I emerged from my hiding place just as the target did from his, but his shot hit in the briefest moment before mine.

However, my gun was the one that actually worked.

As I left the bloody scene, I heard the warning sound of a Grey Corp ambulance growing louder in the distance. Foreboding filled me, but good sense advised against delay.


[21:00 PM] Burt Reynold's Sentient Pancakes (Nathan Smith) is eliminated by ThE C0lLeCtIvE
ThE C0lLeCtIvE reports:


!2ab$iu384UhuH09eiEhbdbfL/>*Psipiw38whicowcYyesitsworkingPIwug278Hhoghbdub28^0934&WEAREONEwhenyouspeakihearsilencoWRIPR9ijjoiuj55%%%3r0do3
****************************************************************************************************************************ASSIMILATING**********

*****APPROXIMATING HUMAN LANGUAGE*********

****APPROPRIATE LANGUAGE FOUND************

Yowza dudes! I mean like woah, what a wild ride getting here man! It was like, totally bodacious. Anyway we've basically like, yeah we've assimilated now and it's awesome. We'd like, totally tell you what we are but it's like some horrifying existential sh*t you don't even wanna comprehend man. Not that you could, man.

Anyway you dudes will all be us soon and that's just totally righteous!

So now our Cause has been like, some utterly wicked success, we just need to like, kill all the non-assimilators. And then we'll go have a wild party with Cornelius Gray. And then we'll kill him and there'll be no more warp sickness because there'll be no more anyone! Anyone won't even like, have meaning my bros. I know. Sounds totally radical, right.

So anyway we just like, went to this dope poetry thing, and utterly killed this one guy. Yeah we were like nice poem, and he was like thanks, and then we were like stab and you're dead and he was like "Oh No!" except he wasn't coz he was going glugglugglugglugglug and now we're using his flesh to feed the dataswarm.

Wicked cool man.

Peace. No really. Peace is like, coming, duders.

*****WE JUDGE LANGUAGE ASSIMILATION NO LONGER TO BE NECESSARY*****

*****DROPPING PRETEND HUMAN LANGUAGE, RETURNING TO SUPERIOR HIVE COMMUNICATION******

thecAUSUQIU3sEhasprevailedeuirr89342.246^"%£62£$&86"$&"*764H£&hggeverywordadefienceliurU£RuiiuheriuehrpleasehelpimstillhereimmeimmeimMEOHGODAwrwruqi3h434v3qOIU


[21:30 PM] With a single shot, Totem Pole takes out Furston LeDolier AKA The Empty Man AKA The Frustrated Fishmonger (Nicholas Heitler)
Totem Pole reports:

I was waiting at the bus stop near to the ADC and saw ThE C0lLeCtIvE walk along the other side of the road. I stood up and followed him to the corner of the road. When I was sure that it was him, I shot him in the back and he died.

ThE C0lLeCtIvE reports:

They sighed. He sighed, she sighed. It hurt thinking as individuals. After an hour of trying to hold it together, it couldn't be done. Mere minutes after its final formation The Collective had collapsed. Permanently. They had not judged that in its infancy it would be so vulnerable. That one bullet could do so much damage, bring down so much. End such plans.

The Cause was dead. Gray would get his way. They had tried and They had failed. They had vision though, a vision for a brave new world. Perhaps that was enough... They clung onto that thought as They faded from existence.

Meanwhile, in the mind of Furston LeDolier, something broke loose that had not been free for a long time. He felt... whole again. A tear rolled down his cheek. The wound hurt, he was in agony, but he was him for the first time in what felt like forever. He couldn't remember ever feeling so happy.

The knowledge was blissful and comforting, behind the drugs, behind the Empty Man and his agonising, blurred rampages, behind the strange and increasingly frequent episodes where he had blacked out and awoke with nothing but blood on his hands an a smell of fish, there was still something of him left.

He broke down and wept for joy. They hadn't taken him away from himself after all! They and their Cause. He had been their tool. Their puppet, but they never broke him completely, he knew that now. In the end they had failed in their perverted plans and he, in his death, was free.

He could live the last of his life under the control of nobody.

As he blacked out, the last words he heard came out of the voicebox of a nearby twitch

"... Prime material, he's one for the programme..."

But he ignored them, and finally embraced his first and last true rest in years.


[22:15 PM] Totem Pole betrays our number one player, Makishima AKA Caules Forvegde Yggdmillenia AKA The Shadow Broker AKA Alisa Reinford AKA Chelsea (Andrew Browne), killing them in cold blood
Totem Pole reports:


Totem Pole had committed the unredeemable, he shot an ally in cold blood. Thankfully the ally survived with just his arm broken. He gave Totem Pole a second chance. The pair walked through the town, holding a very thorough diplomatic debate. Totem Pole really wanted the second chance – he wanted to a friend. But his training was saying telling him to take the opportunity. Totem Pole wanted to stick to his morals. His training told him to stick to the ideals of cold hearted assassin. Totem Pole wrestled with his training, prolonging the diplomacy for as long as he could. He eventually covered everything he could possibly think of. There was nothing left to say and the scary part of his mind was still unsatisfied. He parted with his ally. He wanted to go home, but his training took hold of his legs. He was running to intercept his target before the bridge. He knew that his opponent would be there. His opponent? His ally! Don't do this. Not again! His ally appeared, he drew, he pulled the trigger and nothing happened. His opponent started running. This time his back was turned, a large unmissable target. Totem Pole re-loaded and fired, his shell penetrating the target's back. The target was dead.

He didn't go home that night - or ever.

He was a monster.

Makishima reports:

I was very tired of unsuccessful kill attempts, but had discovered ab event that was to be attended by an inco. I had told this to my friend previously, but since he had not mentioned it since I assumed he wouldn't be there. I made plans with Totem Pole and the others, but only he was free to attend. I arrived slightly late and found the venue deserted, and no sign of Totem either. I went to use the bathroom and told him I would be there in a minute. When I emerged and stood looking at the door I heard a click and bullet hit my arm. I had been betrayed, however after recovering from shock I informed him that I was actually still alive and simulated the events to his satisfaction that I was telling the truth.

We continued this discussion phase for some time, addressing each other's concerns and I had thought, coming to an agreement with how we would proceed. I ran back towards college but he ambushed me. His first shot didn't fire, so I tried to put as much distance between us as I could, but sadly it was not enough. If only I had gone a different way, or crossed the road, or ran backwards, or pulled a weapon or better yet, just openly carried my weapon as I ran from the start (for surely no passing assassin would be present to kill me), I thought as I hit the floor. So many ways to avoid such an unfitting death for the time I had put into Gray's game, but alas it was all for nothing it seems. I can only hope my true friends survive and avenge me.

The Shadow Broker reports:

I appear to have failed in a key role of an information broker - remembering to whom I had sent information. This proved to be my undoing. After my closest friend was seen at an event by a new ally, he was slain, and doubt was then cast upon my own legitimacy, I narrowly survived the first encounter. I should have seen the second coming. As much as I wanted to trust this man, to believe that he was honest, it appears some people simply cannot be, and I had fallen afoul of one such person.

As my life drained from me, I felt disappointed, that both my friend and I, who had hoped to survive together, were both slain on the same night, by the same man. At least my name shall live on. After all, no-one knows who The Shadow Broker really is. Some say he is one man, some say many, some wonder how one person could have survived as long as this one had done. It was impossible surely? The name Shadow Broker will resurface again, I have no doubt that one of my contacts will take up the mantle and use the memory stick I gave in the event I should die. I only hope my successor will meet a better end than I did.

Alisa Reinford reports:

Alisa's quest for the missing parts she needed to mass distribute the cure she would be given had hit a wall for some time now. Finally, she had a lead, and a friend to help confirm the identity of said lead. She hopped on the bus and it took her to her destination. It was quiet, far too quiet, and no bus was coming to take her home. Just then, she felt a pain in her arm and looked round. Her friend has shot her, but she had been lucky.

She would not be so lucky the second time. With no bus to save her, she fell, a tear rolling silently down her cheek as the man she had chosen to trust above all others, who had made her truly believe they could survive together, had revealed his true intentions. It seems that the cure will never be distributed to all. Gray would never do it. If only her killer had known that he had just doomed so many people to death. Would it have changed his actions though? Given that he had betrayed her twice in one night, she assumed not. The last thing she saw was her trustworthy bus driving past, just a bit too late to have saved her life.

Chelsea reports:

This new alliance had been a lot of fun. After the previous night's expeditions we had enjoyed a nice meal together, and Totem in particular had really made me believe they could do this. The Parchment Eaters would become the first group to reach the end together. I merrily walked towards my next hit, looking forward to some more fun with such a nice group of people.

Oh how wrong I was. I should have seen the signs. He had shot two of my friends in cold blood beforehand, but I had been willing to put that under the bridge, after all, he had no idea I knew them until we met. He had refused to give any of us his real name. Some people are strange. He had claimed not to care about his kill count, yet had as many as me in the end. Perhaps it was because he had, through necessity, had to claim the majority of our alliance's kills. I should have trusted my instincts more.

There was no way out of the situation if he chose to attack again. My main arm was crippled, he knew about all of my planned kills tomorrow, he may know much more information that I had just casually given away to someone who I thought I could trust. Perhaps then, it was for the best that he had seen my cat form, and so when a black cat with a pretty pink bow passed a pub, he shot it in the head. Just when I thought I had made some new friends, who I could safely hunt with, and depend upon until the end, everything turned out to be a lie. What would he tell the others, would they ever know the truth, did they approve of what he had done and were they in on it the whole time and that's why they "couldn't make it"? I suppose I will never know.

Caules Forvegde Yggdmillenia reports:

Caules knew that his good citizen deadline was expiring. He had tried to kill one person, but that was not enough. Gray demanded at least two, and this was his best chance at securing safety from those awful automatons for a while longer. Caules shuddered at the thought of these reanimated corpses surrounding him, he knew he couldn't let that happen. He called Fiore on his way to the meet-up point. "I think this will be a kill we can get quite easily" he told her.
"Thank goodness", she replied. "The family doctor gets more concerned by the day", she said suppressing tears. "I don't know how much time I have left..."
"Don't worry, it won't be long now before it is over", he said smiling. "I promise I'll save you."
"I believe you", Fiore said, appearing to finally have some inner peace. "Call me when you've finished".
"I will" he replied, and hung up.

Caules didn't make anything of the fact that an event's venue was completely deserted and his partner was nowhere to be seen. They must just have very soundproof walls, and like him, his ally was running ever so slightly late. But then it happened. A bullet pierced his arm. Caules grimaced in pain and saw to his horror that it was his friend, Egveny, who had pulled the trigger.

"Why..." he said through the pain.
"I doubt your loyalties, you set me up to be killed here"
"No, I didn't! this must be some big misunderstanding!"

At this point, Caules' eyes widened. That little man he had known and told about the event a week ago, where was he? "Don't tell me he turned up! He never mentioned it to me again, I had no idea he would be here", Caules thought. He noticed some blood stains on the road nearby and his legs gave up. "Where was the body? Did I just condemn a friend into a life of eternal servitude to the monster who runs this city?!"

Caules stood up, shaking and clearly struggling to stay upright, as some sick and blood began to trickle from his mouth. Egveny could see that Caules sincerely wanted to be trusted, he had done nothing wrong, and as they walked back, Caules explained everything. He thought they had come to an understanding. He thought wrong.

As Caules ran towards his base in this city, he was attacked. The gun jammed the first time so Caules ran as quickly as he could onto the road, but lights from a car informed him that this was unsafe and he had to return to the pavement. there, he felt a sharp pain and a bullet pierced him. With what little strength he could muster, he activated a teleportation spell.

Fiore had been getting nervous, Caules had not contacted her for some time. Her uncle entered the room. "I'm very worried" she said to him. "Caules never normally takes this long to call me". Tears began to fill her eyes.

As her uncle opened his mouth to speak, a flash of blue light filled the room and before Fiore appeared Caules, on all fours and barely able to support his weight. His white coat was stained in blood and as he coughed and spluttered, a pool of blood began to form below where his mouth was. Fiore's hands came to her mouth and she threw herself on him sobbing. "Caules, what happened?" she cried.

"I was betrayed", he said weakly. "I thought I had more friends. I was foolish, I let my inexperience get to me. I wanted to believe that everyone can be trusted, that we could work together to save ourselves. That we could put our heads together and find a way to get me a shot at Gray." Tears silently rolled down his cheek as he agonisingly coughed up another mouthful of blood.
"Caules hang in there, we can call a medic, you'll be fine. Please don't leave me!" Fiore screamed through her tears.
Caules looked up at her. There was little light left in his eyes, but he smiled at her nonetheless. Fiore could see from his expression so much pain and sadness, yet a contentment and satisfaction that he had the opportunity to put every fibre of his being into trying to protect her.
"I'm sorry", he said as his smile began to twist into something all the more pained.
Fiore threw her arms around him and burst into tears. "I can't be without you Caules, you can't leave me here! Please don't go!" she sobbed.
Suddenly, she felt Caules' body heat up and he eyes widened. "No..." she cried. "NO!"
"Fiore get back!" yelled her uncle, forcefully pulling her away from Caules as his body erupted into flames. Caules screamed in agony as the fire engulfed him and Fiore buried her head into her uncle's chest, he hands covering her ears, but they couldn't drown out Caules' screams as his body began to disintegrate. Even her own screams weren't enough to drown him out.

"MAKE IT STOP!" she screamed to her uncle, her hands clinging to his collar as a river of tears flowed from both her eyes. "I can't take this anymore!"

But there was nothing she could don, but wait for another minute until all that remained of Caules' body was a pile of ash. Fiore crumpled to the ground, inconsolable. Her uncle left the room. "Where are you going?" she asked him. He did not reply. Fiore caught sight of the pile of ash that used to be her brother, the most important person in the room to her, and began sobbing again.

She had no idea how much time had passed when she heard the door open again. There was a second shadow in the doorway, and she looked up. This was an unfamiliar man in a suit, and on his pocket, the GrayCorp logo. Fiore's eyes widened and she dragged herself backwards towards the other exit. "Uncle" she said, terrified, "who is this man?"
"He is someone who I contacted, in the event Caules should fail" he replied, barely able to look at her.
"WHY ARE YOU WORKING WITH THEM?" she screamed. "Don't you know what they have done?!"
"I do..." he said. "And they know what we have done."
Fiore shuffled closer to the door, but then to her horror, it opened. She slowly looked around and saw another GrayCorp man.
"How?" she asked, growing more terrified by the second. "Who told them? Why? Why are they here?!" she cried.
"The Ygdmillenia family has kept two unregistered childern from us for some time. They were unfortunate enough to send one of them into Gray's game", the man beside her uncle said.
"The other is in the room now" said the other GrayCorp man. "We have come for you".
"NO!" Fiore cried and, summoning all her strength, stood up and cast a magic bolt on the man in front of her who was turned to ash. She tried to run but the warp sickness had taken its toll on her and she couldn't move very quickly. The second GrayCorp man brought her to the ground and locked her arms together as she struggled desperately to get out of his grip. But she was too weakened by the sickness.
"I'm sorry Fiore", he uncle said, looking in the complete opposite direction this time. "We were told that if we didn't turn you over, our entire family would be repurposed for the Twitch programme".
"Please, tell me this isn't happening" she said almost inaudibly. "I don't want to become one of those things..."
Her uncle said nothing.
"Say something! Please, please don't let them do this to me..."
Fiore's uncle remained silent, and facing the wall.

At this point another two men entered the room and between them, they picked Fiore up and began to carry her out of the room. She screamed at the top of her lungs and kicked trying to escape. She bit one of the man's arms and he recoiled. She broke free and ran down the corridor. She ran down the stairs but was trying to do more than her condition allowed and tripped and fell to the bottom of the stairs. She got up and threw open the doors. Immediately she froze. Before her was a line of Twitches, who raised their guns. Fiore sank to the ground as the men caught up to her.

"You must be the best candidate we have found for weeks" one of them whispered into her ear.

A terrible chill ran down Fiore at these words, but her body had given up from the sickness. She could do nothing but watch as she was surrounded by the Twitches, and thrown into a bag. The group entered a normal looking GrayCorp van which drove away from the family mansion.

And so ends the Yggdmillenia family line...

Monday, 20 November


[12:24 PM] A concise kill of Stacey (Francis Madden)
Queenslayer reports:

I waited for him and then stabbed him.

Stacey reports:

Got shanked after lecture today.

Tuesday, 21 November


[16:00 PM] The Geiger Countess keeps the side of order going, nearly single handed, retrieving data from Anastasia Chibulkova
The Geiger Countess reports:

The Force of the Law would like to thank all Citizens for their ongoing rational and productive behaviour in this time. We are aware that, in spite of all our reassurances, there are some who persist in worrying about the threat posed by those instances of malicious corruption that have occurred in the Force. However, we reiterate: these corrupted Units do not target Good Citizens. They may occasionally cause harm to their fellow Police Units, but this is the only counter–protocol behaviour that many of them have exhibited, and the data recovered from those Units we have contained for examination suggests that this is an attempt specifically to destabilise the Force. There is nothing to suggest that these Units will at any point pose a danger to our Good Citizens.

Of course, those whose Good Citizen status has been suspended may be targeted by these Units, just as they are targeted by fully–functioning Units. This may pose an additional motivation to work hard and meet one's contribution targets – one of the specific areas that appears to have been targeted in these Units is the Mercy Protocol. As some of you may already be aware, this is a Protocol created with the intention of minimising any suffering that might be brought about in the course of a Police Unit's duties, whether this should be through reducing the exposure of the general public to acts of necessary violence, or through conducting terminations in such a manner as to keep to a minimum any fear, pain or other discomfort endured by the target. It goes without saying, of course, that a reduction in suffering is the purest goal for which we as a society can strive. However, there are now Units of the Force who are no longer bound by the Mercy Protocol, and as such, the termination of any individual whom they should identify as a target is likely to be marked by an unprecedented and unnecessary level of pain and fear. We do not wish for such a fate to befall any of our Citizens, and thus we implore you to work hard. Continue to meet your contribution targets. Do not make yourself a target for these Units; we cannot protect you if you do.

However, we continue to make progress in the face of this threat to our society. After careful observation of the behaviour patterns of one of the corrupted Units, we were able to arrange an ambush around the area of the patrol they had elected to pursue, and to decommission them without delay. Police Unit Anastasia Chibulkova has now been returned to our scientists for further examination, and we have every hope that this fresh example will be most instructive as to the modus operandi of our detractor.

We would like to remind all Citizens that we, the Force of the Law, are here for your protection. We remove from society those dangerous individuals who would destabilise the whole, and we ensure that our bounteous State runs smoothly and efficiently. Those individuals who break the rules – or who do not meet their contribution targets towards the ever–forward motion of our society – must be removed, for the sake of all our futures. We hope that you understand. We hope that you bear this in mind. We hope that you remain our Good Citizens.

....................................................................................................


[17:30 PM] Hazie stabs Pleia in a classic stalk and kill
Hazie reports:

I was walking in town at around 5.30pm and I saw Leia Henderson. I followed her a bit to make sure it was her then I stabbed her in the back with a knife.


[19:00 PM] We were right to add this one to the force. Furston LeDolier remains loyal.
Furston LeDolier reports:

Cornelius Gray...

The name bounced around in circles in the newly formed positronic brain of Furston LeDolier. It felt strange, being a machine, and knowing that he was a machine. But he could still think – or at least he still had the illusion of being able to think – independently. Should that be possible? Was it possible? It was odd, thought didn't develop gradually for him any more the way they used to. There were no gradual frustrating buildups, no moments of revelation. They just occured fully formed. It felt a little unnatural. Too sharp. Too distinct.

Still, being a twitch, for all the horror stories, was still infinitely preferable to being controlled by whatever malignant cocktail of drugs They had fed him in life. Even if he wasn't free, he still had the illusion of clarity, of freedom. Maybe that was all freedom was anyway, the ability to make choices that felt like his own. This wasn't the time for existential philosophy was it? What right did a reanimated machine have to debate the finer points of free will anyway. Was all this just his programming?

He decided he didn't care. Let the questions rest for now, too many of them. Enjoy this, whatever *this* was.

Gray... he'd never paid much attention, he knew Gray was one of the people They had eventually been planning to betray. He knew that Gray was the architect of this current chaos. He was the person who the advocates of the maddeningly horrible Cause had been trying to stop, to replace with something even worse. Clearly not a good man. But, but Gray had given him this new life... a life of at least seeming clarity.

Was this loyalty software talking, buried deep into what he called his brain, rationalising a terrible decision? Again, he couldn't bring himself to care about the question. It was better than drugs, he wanted to put his previous life behind him and well... throwing his lot in with the person his old masters had been trying to fight seemed... right. He had been given a rundown of the current situation in a large data dump when he was activated.

Not all twitches were loyal any more. If he wanted to defend Gray, the man who had given him a new life, he would show his loyalty. Something gave him pause for thought though. On the list of glitched machines one name that – assuming pain had any meaning any more – was somewhat painful to see. Ivanova Koestler. She would be the easiest target for him, in fact, it would be positively disloyal not to take the chance if he was given it. But, but that particular automaton had been a companion when he was alive, even saved him from death once or twice. They had worked together, raided together. Koestler's companionship had been a slight relief in his drug fuelled daze.

No, it wasn't enough. This machine represented his past life, and in any case, wasn't dying the best thing to ever happen to him. He would deactivate her, and he would make a symbol out of it.

Koestler came round to see him, newly automated as he was, there were things that the more experienced droid could show him, they talked and they shared data and he learned from her and then, at the right moment. He shot her. It was clean. Too clean. Ivanova Koestler shut down almost instantly.

Furston hadn't thought that a machine could look betrayed.

Furston hadn't thought that a machine could feel so terrible either.

Oh well, he was on this path now, he would follow it. His new life began today.


[20:26 PM] Some reports from an old game.
Cornelius Gray reports:

These are a series of reports from last Michaelmas that I sent to the umpire that were never posted... I thought somebody might find them amusing.

To the Gentleman

I have nothing to report, but today, I have broken out into a sprint to avoid encounters with 5 [REDACTED PLAYER WHO IS CURRENTLY LIVE]s (and I don't even know what she looks like), stalked down a Daniel who turned out not to be him... stared intently at 3 Williams, checked literally everyone I passed for signs if them being Twm in disguise, given 6 Gagans a wide berth, been convinced 3 short blondes were and almost drawn a weapon on two people who could have been Roddy... I think the game is getting to me.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Dear Umpire

Apart from crossing the street to avoid several encounters and exiting my lectures via the longest and most convoluted passage ways possible, I have today already been scared out of my wits by a guy rolling down his car window and yelling "Don't Shoot!" at me.

Am I really that obvious?

Please assist, I think I'm nearing a mental breakdown.

(To clarify, no I am not in any actual mental trouble, but damn, I was expecting Twm to dive out of every door I passed on the way back after that with umbrella sword half drawn).

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Dear umpire:

Events today:

Sprinted to avoid 1 innocent guy (told you about that). Later had a lovely conversation about the assassin's creed games with him after he 'killed' me and I explained to him that there was no way in hell he was a live player, and he conceded that his pen wasn't labelled anyway.

[Insert: The story here is that I knew the faces of every male player left in the game and knew this guy wasn't playing, but he was looking at me funny, so I started to walk quicker, then he started to walk quicker, so I started to jog, then he started to jog, so we both broke out into a sprint down a random street with me nearly shooting the guy, but also being fairly sure he was innocent. Fortunately, I chose not to.]

While running late for a lecture, I refused to simply up my pace and walk past anybody. It was either pass them and start running, not stopping until they were a speck in the distance or wait behind them.

While raiding Christ's with [REDACTED], a guy held the door open for me. I refused to go through before him because he bore a very faint resemblance to a 5 year old picture of Gagan.

Have been taking long routes to and from Sainsbury's just to avoid having to walk past Christ's college.

Look rather suspicious in a hooded coat with one hand clutching a gun underneath it and taking the darkest, blackest back alley ways I can find.

Practically running the last few paces into every lecture. Today, I was slightly late for one and almost fell over due to the door being closed and me going far too quickly to stop in any dignified manner.

Tailed [Ally] to his lecture, said goodbye, then doubled back and tailed him all the way anyway, just in case somebody was thinking of trying anything. Apparently I shouldn't have bothered, but he wasn't being paranoid enough, damn it.

And then, apparently, was not paranoid enough not to be singing 'Umpire Baby' to myself as I was walking back from a supervision. I caught myself doing so and muttered 'and the award for death by stupidity goes to–'.

Have memorised all of the blind spots on all of my normal routes and (when I'm not in public) have been shoving a gun into them before I enter the space that a potential assassins would be able to attack me from.

Sheila (my gun) still sleeps on the floor, but I did catch myself checking that I'd locked my door like 3 times. Also, tell Shrike that Samantha (his overly large gun) is getting lonely and that I absolutely didn't wander through the streets with her explaining to everybody that I saw that I was being incredibly inconspicuous and that they had seen nothing.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Dear Umpire

Thankyou very much for alerting everybody to how they should be attempting to kill me.

Thankyou also for not allowing me to do laundry for another day.

Thanks for reminding Twm that he only has 1 day to clear the live player list (I got a friendly message from him this morning).

Thanks for reminding me that I should be using Sainsbury's local, buying enough to make 2 meals and then not leaving my room any more than I have to today.

I am also very grateful to the game in general for causing me to assume that a lone blonde woman who I had already checked and decided was not Twm had suddenly undergone metamorphosis and turned into a beautiful hardened killer.

I would like to express how lovely it is to have to take every back alley I can back to my accomodation, avoid crowds as much as possible and finally put down the bag, take out the gun and sweep the entire area before returning to pick up the bag and go to my room... possibly giving my housekeeper a heart attack in the process.

It is currently not even 11:00

This is going to be a long last day of the game.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Dear Umpire

It's over... I walked back to my accomodation and did not check over my shoulder once. This shall be my last paranoia report.

Yesterday: Shot my own reflection in a mirror while at Dani's, simply because I was walking past, going to the toilet and saw a suspicious looking individual suddenly round the corner at the same time I did... they were wielding a nerf gun and I panicked. They were an incredibly ugly sort of person with wild hair that hadn't been tamed in weeks and had terrible fashion sense. After calming down, we agreed that neither of us were dead and went our own ways.

Today: Most of the day was spent huddled in my room. Locked myself out when I went to get food and had nothing but a penknife on me (didn't even have a hood to hide my identity)... that was interesting. Apparently somebody finally fixed my door (it didn't close properly without being forced shut) and didn't tell me about it.

['Ally'] has been trying to muck with my mind all day... for instance, looking at his phone, saying that he'd like me to come back with him to his room, then looking again and saying we had to wait 7 minutes... then saying we were good to go after another check. That was the least of the things that he's tried today (and I will say that my memory right now is not seeming to be that great... I need to sleep more, dear Gentleman).

Sprinted away from every short woman with black hair that I came across since that is literally the only description I have to go on of one of the current live players.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Dear Umpire

On the subject of paranoia, today I left Sheila in my room, walked to lectures and casually nodded as suspicious looking individuals... passed Twm as I entered a lecture, said hi (not totally sure if it was him, maybe I'm still seeing phantoms), saw my own reflection and didn't shoot it, didn't wear a hood, listened to music while walking, did not check over my shoulder once and am currently feeling very relaxed, despite the current looming deadline later today.

Hope today finds you well.

–Andrew.

Wednesday, 22 November


[01:10 AM] The Innocuous Postman who keeps bumping into people while carrying very sharp objects (re-employed) still does not work for GrayCorp... and has made this very very obvious now.
The Innocuous Postman who keeps bumping into people while carrying very sharp objects (re-employed) reports:

[ GONE POSTAL ]


[10:00 AM] Ivanova Koestler continues to rebel against Gray. Such an interesting glitch...
Ivanova Koestler reports:

Greetings, loyal minions of TWITCH. Memories of once counting myself among you, and hope that you too may see the light and abandon the false idol of Cornelius Grey, compels me to notify you that you may find your fallen comrade, Choong Ling, at my address. You'll be pleased to hear that I left her (largely) intact, albeit with a greater quantity of lead in her circuitry than that of which the Grey Corporation normally approves.

Did I not warn that we would come for you? Did my actions not portend that more blood would be spilled? The choice, once again, is yours: join us, and help rid the world of Grey's tyranny, or pick lead from your bodies forever.


[10:20 AM] LaTeX Forest remembers that incompetents are a thing and picks up after Gray's shoddy work with Cuddly Attack Bear (India-Jane Barry)
LaTeX Forest reports:

Hi


LaTeX Forest is back! Most assassins would probably get some sleep on the day they have no lectures, but instead I woke up early and headed to the lane of wind–rotated things!

Lurking, lurking, lurking.... The lecture's started! I can't give up so easily. I waited, and waited, until eventually Cuddly Attack Bear showed up trying to sneak into the lecture theatre... At least that was her intention. I wouldn't let it happen, not while she was alive, so a round of 6 bullets hit her the moment she appeared at the top of the staircase.

Given the amount of trouble she'd caused to the police force, I was incredibly satisfied that the whole "Cuddly Attack Bear situation" has been dealt with. That is until I heard her last words: "Fine, whatever"

Best wishes,
LaTeX Forest


[11:52 AM] Ulex Sturpus downloads a 'patch'. Brian Bay falls.
Ulex Sturpus reports:

//Downloading patch//
–ERROR DETECTED–
//Downloading patch_rework_new//
Download successful. Complete in 2.4s
Installation complete
–Prompt_deactivattion_inhibition_circuits–
*Fzzzzt*
System reports critical burnout. Attempting reroute of core Twitch_Enforcer processes
Anomalous subroutine Glitch_activation requested: block this code Y/N?

N.

–Record ends


[14:26 PM] Der Shooter 'shadows' The Fundamental Group to Sainsbury's.
Der Shooter reports:

I had been fed information about the whereabouts of The Fundamental Group, and decided to pursue her near Sainsbury's. However, I was forced to leave after 30 minutes of searching, as I had to get back to work.


[21:00 PM] The Invisible Hand actually makes a move... it's not a successful move, but it is a move.
The Invisible Hand reports:

Today, the Hand managed to trick the Queenslayer into turning up at the Marshall Library of the Sidgwick site around 9pm with the promise of an easy kill before the Hand would be struck by thunder. Little did the Queenslayer know that the Hand had a trick up it's non–existent sleeve. Unfortunately, the Queenslayer retreated before the agreed hour and the Hand's attempt was thwarted. The Hand now hopes that this will buy it a little extra time to make a glove out of the Queenslayer.

Thursday, 23 November


[01:47 AM] Cornelius Gray drifts through the city. Eventually, he finds what he's looking for, Deodorant Flavour Crisps (Aidan McConnell) is one of the few Gray removes from the city.
Cornelius Gray reports:

Gray would have liked to be able to say he was sorry... he would have liked to have hidden his guilt behind a hollow apology and pretend that those words could have in some way redeemed him for what he had done, what he was about to do.

But, that wouldn't help anybody but himself. He'd still do it... he'd still kill them, he had to. So, what use would his apologies do them?

He wasn't as weak as he'd once been anymore. For goodness sakes, he'd survived his own little hell the first time around and this time, he'd vowed to do better.

This game of life and death seemed to repeat itself across time and space... according to his calculations, it was an inevitable factor in the universe. There had been one that he had emerged alive from... or at least, that the original Cornelius Gray had emerged alive from, and, there would be many many more. This one, at least, he could try and control. Maybe that would count for 'doing better'.

Somehow, he doubted it. There was blood on his hands one way or the other, even if it was for a cause that he had to believe in.

Gray didn't apologise to anybody as he simply coughed at the door's security measures and caused it to deactivate its lock. He'd designed it, after all.

He didn't say sorry to any of the corpses he left behind him as he strode through the city that night, guided equal parts by the will of the dark tower, his own knowledge of the city and his own technology informing him of the location of his targets.

He didn't know quite why he was here yet, only that being here was the only way for him to stop some terrible event... and to stop that event, he'd have to be powerful... which meant that he needed this one incredible ally who could survive what he had survived through. To get that ally, he'd need to ensure that he didn't get the wrong person... and that meant getting his hands dirty.

"It's alright... without me, you were dead anyway to this disease... so sleep now. After all, nothing changed."

Gray closed the eyes of the final corpse and sighed, then turned away and tucked the rusted repeater under his arm.

It was done.

[Sorry to Aidan McConnell, but you are now dead. The rest of you, well done for having done at least an attempt this game. That won't be enough to get you into the duel, for which you'll need to be one of the top 4 players for conker score who has 3 or more kills. Everybody else will be killed at the end of the final day.]


[13:00 PM] Queenslayer and Hazie (Seyma Sever) execute a not-so-perfect ambush on Sneaky Sashimi AKA Extinct Turtle AKA Totem Pole AKA Wilson Overdrive (Evgeny Slavin)
Sneaky Sashimi reports:

I was attacked by Hazie and Queenslayer just after 2pm outside [REDACTED]. I evaded the initial attack. I drew my gun and my attackers retreated. I gave chase and after missing a few shots, hit Hazie in the head. I then chased the Queenslayer, who drew her water pistol and successfully demolished my face, killing me.

Hazie reports:

Thursday November 23, 2017
7.00am
I woke up at 7am to my alarm and had only one thing on my mind: "Today will be my last, but he will go down with me". I went through my morning routine with the flashbacks of my dream last night where I repeatedly got murdered by assassins near [REDACTED]. I wasn't surprised as all I had been thinking of for the past week was how to avenge my dear allies of Sneaky Sashimi's horrific betrayal. My plan may have been a suicide mission but it was one that was necessary for the greater alliance.

10.00am
I left my room after completing my work and headed off to my lectures super paranoid that someone would kill me before I could undergo everything I had planned. It was simple, I knew which path he would take, I knew when he would cross the road. I would have my trusted friend, Queenslayer, follow him from a distance until he came right up to me. I would attack and he would most likely be equipped and alert to defend himself. He would come after me, but he would be completely occupied by duelling me to even notice the Queenslayer. That would be the perfect opportunity for her to kill him. At the end of it all, I could survive but if there was one certainty, it was that he would be dead.

12.00pm
Time was passing by and I was informed by my ally that she would be slightly late due to an unfortunate mishap. My plan was not going to go as smoothly and I was not going to be informed of his location, but it was too late to back down now.

1.00pm
It was time. I silently waited while the Queenslayer joined me at the perfect time. Whilst she had apologized for arriving late, it hadn't even been 5 minutes when we saw coincidentally saw him across the street. I immediately recognized his face from the pictures I had studied. The last face that my beloved allies had seen in a dramatic turn of betrayal. I scorned at the heartlessness in his eyes, the confident aura he possessed as he casually waited to cross the road. Once the green light shone he quickly crossed the street diagonally to around 5 meters ahead of us.
I could not lose this chance. I knew it may never come again, so I leaped forward and sprinted towards him with my gun. He heard me at the last minute and swerved away jumping into the middle of the road. I did not go after him as it was too dangerous and stood on the pavement, a little shocked that he would do such a thing when I saw him take out a large nerf gun. I was not carrying any large weapons so he would not recognize me and I did not have enough time to take out the water gun in my backpack. There was only one thing left I could do. Stall him long enough for the Queenslayer to end this once and for all. I turned around and sprinted past the pedestrians who had no clue what was going on and I heard Sneaky Sashimi load his gun and fire. The bullets darted beside me while I hoped with all my heart that the Queenslayer had a clear shot.

Everything suddenly went black. I could not feel anymore and knew it had finally come. I greeted Death as an old friend, but had one last request. I pleaded, "Please don't take my vision yet. I want to be able to greet Makishima and Furston LeDolier with good news." Death nodded lightly while I regained consciousness. In the distance, I saw Queenslayer shoot Sneaky Sashimi in the head, which made him drop instantaneously to the ground. My eyes closed as my lips formed a smile. I had succeeded. "Follow me," mumbled death as I felt my feet walk towards the light.

Queenslayer reports:

Night gathered, as their watch preceded. Countless days of plotting would bring about the final turn, the result they had so wished for.

And now daylight broke in the blistering wind of the valley of the dead. The Queenslayer and Hazie stood and watched the blare of people pass them, consumed by their mundane thoughts. They wouldn't know what were to happen in a few moments, when justice was to be deployed.

"My watch shall not end until my death, Queenslayer," Hazie promised, holding her gun close to her side. "I seek to stand by my honour and die at my post." The clouds glowered above and sparrows hawked in the misty fog. The bitter sense of destitution sought to prevail but the Queenslayer shook her head.

"Don't be so pessimistic Hazie. You will not die."

"This is the only way. I have planned this to the final bone," Hazie turns to her with a sharp look in her eye. "Don't be so sentimental."

"Hazie, you are our sword in the darkness. The watcher on the walls. I trust you to shield the realms we once ruled but have now fragmented," The Queenslayer said, consumed in the sorrow she so wished didn't overtake her. The bottom of their long black coats flew lightly in the calming breeze.

"He will be here. Soon. Death waits for no one."

Soon enough, a chill passed and the man himself walked briskly across street. Hazie and the Queenslayer followed behind him. They watched him carefully for a few moments as he carelessly strolled right past them and hustled down the road.

Grabbing her gun, Hazie called out.

"Death is here for you Sneaky Sashimi."

Sneaky Sashimi instinctively grabbed his own gun and spun around with quick speed. Both had their guns pointed to each other. The moment was still and tense.

"You what to know what I say to the God of Death?" Sneaky Sashimi smirked, consumed with confidence. "Not today."

And then he leaped into the traffic, just as Hazie shot her bullet. The cars stopped in their tracks and the stranger's froze in fear. With unforeseen madness, Totem Pole dropped his bags and sprinted forwards, chasing after the two, in a furious intensity.

The Queenslayer, ahead, hid behind a corner, pulling out her small handgun and aiming it ready.
Hazie sprinted into the open field and turned around. The wind was back and harsher than ever. She had her arms wide open and dared Sneaky Sashimi closer.

"We are not Gods!" She shouted. "We are justice. And death waits for no one. Most certainly not those that betray our allies."

Sneaky Sashimi attempted to shoot her with two more bullets but Hazie easily dodged and ran further away, drawing him closer to the open. He had no concern for the Queenslayer who was putting in her ammunition and positioning her gun ready. He kept moving but she had him still as Hazie stopped and slowly moved to drop her gun on the floor and pick one of her knives.

"If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention," Sneaky Sashimi called after her and shot with his final bullet at the back of her head.

Just then, the Queenslayer appeared and shot him in the face. He reacted soon after and tried to shoot her but was too slow. He touched his bleeding face in shock.

"There is no happy ending. For you," the Queenslayer whispered. His eyes slowly closed and he dropped to the floor. His body spread across the cold grass and his gun sprawling out of his red hands. Snapping out of her daze, the Queenslayer turned around just as Hazie dropped to her knees.

"Queenslayer!"

"Hazie!"

"I promised to pledge my life and honour to the alliance, for this night and all the nights to come, even if my watch has ended," she said with a calmness, before the blood seeped out of her mouth and she fell forward, swallowed by the ground.

The light that had once lit up the field was now replaced with darkness. A terrible darkness.
The Queenslayer slowly sunk forward to Hazie's dead body in sadness, reminiscing the world she once said a long time ago and now tasting bitter irony.

"When you play the game of assassins, you win, or you die."

The Queenslayer took the fallen gun from the floor and placed it in Hazie's pocket.

"There is no middle-ground… until the end."


[13:22 PM] The Geiger Countess continues to carry her side.
The Geiger Countess reports:

We would like to reassure all Citizens of the ongoing measures being taken to keep our city safe and our Force efficient. Through the predictability of routine and the careful observation of our Enforcers, we were able to intercept Police Unit Flip Flop Thief following one of their old patrols. This Unit was quietly and efficiently decommissioned, and their core has been handed on to our researchers so as to further our investigations into the methods of our detractor.

We would like to remind all Citizens that we, the Force of the Law, are here for your protection. We remove from society those dangerous individuals who would destabilise the whole, and we ensure that our bounteous State runs smoothly and efficiently. Those individuals who break the rules – or who do not meet their contribution targets towards the ever–forward motion of our society – must be removed, for the sake of all our futures. We hope that you understand. We hope that you bear this in mind. We hope that you remain our Good Citizens.

....................................................................................................


[16:26 PM] [REDACTED]
LaTeX Forest reports:

[TOP SECRET]


[19:33 PM] The Innocuous Postman who keeps bumping into people while carrying very sharp objects (re-employed) and Furston LeDolier 'bump' into each other.
Furston LeDolier reports:

#####################################
SYSTEM OFFLINE

AUXILIARY POWER ACTIVATED
#####################################

Life as a twitch had many interesting facets, but Furston had not ever been made aware that among the perks of being a GrayCorp robot were the ability to be aggressively delivered to by the local postal service.

Especially as, as it turned out, the delivery proved to consist of a very sharp spike which he did not remember ever ordering – straight to the main processor. Would you please sign here?

He didn't fancy signing.

Oh yes, he thought, as both he and this strange (and oddly familiar? Did he recognise this one from his past life maybe... A flash of something, a long wait, angry men throwing him out of a well guarded fortress... A banana?) postal unit collapsed in front of him, his own knife finding its home at the same time as the curious delivery. This was a lot more fun than being alive.

Then the world went dark.

Friday, 24 November


[10:00 AM] Ulex Sturpus finds The Geiger Countess under-prepared.
The Geiger Countess reports:

The F#r#e o# the Law wo#ld like to re#uest that all#Con#er#ed C#tizens#be e#er-watchful an# vigilant in t#e#e t#mes. We are#well aware of#the nuisance #ose# t# our#Force #y th#se who would d#tract from us,#a#d w# welcome th# efforts of t#ose hardworki#g a#d #oyal#Citize#s wh# aid us in our#duty of mainte#a#ce.#Police Unit# that appear #o be operatin# in#a #ount#r-prot#col #anner may be s#fely assumed t# #ave#been corrupt#ed, and shoul# either be co#fro#te#, or#else r#port#d to a fully-f#nctioning Enfo#c#r o# the Law fo# decommission#ng.

One such #alf#nc#ioni#g Poli#e Un#t was encounte#ed earlier tod#y# th#ir erratic #ehaviour betr#ying them eve# fr#m # dis#ance. #s I #atrolled in th# area, I obser#e# Po#ice Unit Ul#x Sturpus wat#hing the appr#ach#ng#crow#s from#a do#rway. The mann#r they exhibit#d#was#entirely at#odds with tha# of a functio#ing#Po#ice #nit; t#ey a#peared to be u#dergoing some #o#t o# conflict o# protocol. Su#sequent event# le#d #e to#suspec# tha# the detractor#to have corrup#e# th#m added an #ndividual sel#-preservation#pro#oc#l, b#t fail#d to#integrate it c#operatively wi#h#the#existing pr#tocols – the #nit was thus #tal#ed#whil# the i#pera#ive to avoid d#mage clashed w#t# th equally-we#ghted imperat#ve to attack #oya# a#d fu#ctioni#g Un#ts of the Forc#.

Seeing this #e#avi#ur, and hav#ng heard repo#ts that this #nit#ha# rec#ntly b#en i#volved in an a#tercation with#a#oth#r Unit of t#e Force, I ad#anced, with t#e i#te#sion#of app#ehen#ing and decomm#ssioning them #e#ore#any further#damage occurr#d. I equipped#the#mo#t ef#ective#piec# of artillery # had to hand, # #ult#purpose slu# rifle, and b#gan to fire o# th# U#it. #ather #han #tand their gro#nd or summon r#i#for#ements, the# took evasive#action, attem#tin# t# con#eal th#msel#es in the near#y shrubbery, t# #itt#e effect. I#then proceede# to fire repe#ted#y #n th# shrub#ery #rom various an#les as they at#e#pte# to keep to#the far side #f it.

However# th# w#apon#I had #quip#ed appeared to#have been supp#i#d w#th defective# ammunition –#as I was in t#e p#oc#ss o# takin# wha# should have b#en a clear and#i#mob#lising shot# the defective# round caused#the#we#pon #o seiz#, an# prevented fur#her firing. As#t#ey #ecame aware#that I was te#porarily unar#ed,#Po#ice #nit Ul#x St#rpus's self-pr#servation prot#c#l c#ased to int#rfere with th#ir objective #n t#rg#ting#functi#ning#Police Units, #nd they advanc#d#rap#dly with th#ir small gamm#-fire weapon;#my #ni# sus#ained #ncap#citating damage# in the proces#.#I w#uld therefo#e like to sub#it a request #or # n#w Un#t as s#on a# possible, in #rder to facili#a#e m# return to #ctive service#and enable me#to #on#inue#to uph#ld m# duty as Chief#Enforcer of th# #aw,#to serve an# protect our #ood Citizens.#The#ex#sten#e of t#ese #orrupted Units# and the action#s#of #he detracto# who corrupte# them, is an #mpe#ti#ence#that i# not#to be borne. I#cannot stand b# #dly#for repairs#while it cont#nues.

In addi#ion#to#this# I wou#d re#uest that my n#w Unit might p#r#aps#be equipped#with an update#d power cell.#At #he#time#of th#se ev#nts, my curren# Unit had bee# #unn#ng exceedin#ly low on pow#r, as some de#ect#in#its #ell pr#vent#d it from hold#ng a proper ch#r#e. #his lack of#power had nec#ssitated that#cer#ai# pro#ocols #ot b# run, due to t#eir drain on s#s#em #ower; as su#h, high-level#security prep#rat#on# wer# not m#de, #nd the precaut#on of carrying#a#gam#a-fire weap#n in addition#to the slug r#fle#wa# not#taken.#Like#ise, although #his encounter #o#ld h#ve been avo#ded through t#e selection o# a #if#eren# branc# of #he patrol rout#, this was not#t#e c#se. Full po#er will be ne#essary if the#ins#le#ce o# our d#trac#or is to be pr#perly addresse#.

#We #ould like t# remind all C#tizens that w#, t#e #orce#of the#Law,#are here for y#ur protection.#W# re#ove from so#iety those da#gerous indivi#ual# w#o wo#ld de#tabil#se the whole, #nd we ensure t#a# ou# bounteous #tate runs smo#thly and effi#ien#ly# Tho#e indi#idua#s who break th# rules – or wh# #o n#t meet thei# contribution#targets towar#s t#e #ver-forward#moti#n of our socie#y – must be re#o#ed,#for the sak# of all our f#tures. We hop# th#t #ou u#dersta#d. W# hope that yo# bear this in m#n#. W# hope that #ou remain our#Good Citizens#

…..,.,…,………...,………….,………….,…,..,….,……,….,…………..,………

Ulex Sturpus reports:

The Glitched droid currently wearing the skin of Ulex Sturpus waited in a dark alley close to one of his Loyalist targets' patrol routes. This time, the target was not merely an Enforcer droid – it was the Chief of Police herself. The Geiger Countess.

Sturpus was armed only with a small, familiar energy pistol and – of course – his hat. The pistol's ammunition storage was leaking slightly, causing superficial damage to the Glitched droid's coverings. Skin melting slowly off robotic implants and mechanical fingers made for a grim sight, but the thing that used to be Sturpus was not prone to squeamishness. It wiped its hands on the wall, leaving a smear of fizzing plasma and red bodily fluids.
The latest intel, shared by the Glitched droids' neural interfaces, suggested that the Countess was heavily armed, possibly carrying heavy plasma weaponry. Sturpus had only his pistol and the element of surprise, but in the right mechanical appendages those were potent weapons.

After several minutes of waiting, and attracting strange looks from bystanders (maybe it was the hat; perhaps it was the slightly rotting skin stretched over a metal skeleton), Sturpus noticed a larger–than–usual crowd of civilians filing past his alleyway. The Countess would no doubt be within the throng, watching for criminals that posed a risk to her precious Good Citizens. The Glitcher peered into the crowd – one of his ocular lenses was slightly blurry, but it was possible that one well–dressed shape advancing along the patrol route bore a similarity to the Geiger Countess. Sturpus cautiously advanced towards it. Unfortunately, the Countess – ever paranoid – saw it coming. She whipped out a massive slug–based projectile weapon.

That was not a heavy plasma weapon.

That was much worse.

Sturpus drew his pistol and attempted to snap off a shot. The range was too far, however, and the plasma merely gouged out a foot of concrete from the ground next to the Countess. In return, she lifted her heavy weapon.

Glitched droids feel no fear, or desire for self–preservation. Sturpus diving behind a small potted plant, scraping off what skin remained on its hands, was entirely unconnected to the abject terror lesser beings may have experienced at being faced by a well–armed Geiger Countess.
Completely unconnected.

Heavy shots began to rain down around Sturpus' cover. The droid attempted to pull in its outlying limbs whilst running a hope subroutine that none of the massive projectiles would blast through the potted plant and into its cranium. The Countess began to work her way around the plant, continuing to blast pieces off the pot whilst Sturpus scrabbled around in the other direction, keeping the pot between the Countess and itself.
Suddenly, there was a click and the battered plant pot stopped taking fire. The Glitched droid stuck its head out, half expecting it to be immediately shot off. The Countess' weapon had malfunctioned! This was the price she had paid for projectile weaponry – a round had clogged up the chamber, and the Chief of Police was exposed. The Sturpus–droid levelled its pistol and blasted plasma into the Countess. She fell.
The Glitcher began to move over to its fallen opponent to ensure that the Countess was not merely playing dead. Only then did the sounds of distant sirens punch through to its faulty audio–processing units. Police backup could be on the scene at any time – there would be no opportunity to ensure that the Countess was certainly dead.
The droid wearing Sturpus' skin melted into the shadows. It would wait and intercept police reports to ensure that its target was deceased.


[18:20 PM] Ivanova Koestler does exactly what Twitches should do and turns Furston LeDolier's ambush around... just, they're on the wrong side.
Ivanova Koestler reports:

The sun had set over the blood–soaked city when I heard odd sounds coming from outside my quarters. A conversation... two people... My heart skipped a beat. One of the voices was painfully, achingly familiar, the relic of a life cut untimely short by treachery. Caution thrown to the wind, He had returned to the scene of his most shameful act, and was loudly proclaiming his intent to butcher me once more when I came back for revenge.

My gun was in my hand before I even knew I had taken it.

Silently, I opened my door and crept down the hall. The voices grew louder as I did so. I readied my weapon, positioning myself so as to ambush the traitor when he exited the room. After less than a minute, the door opened. I found myself face to face with the man who had once been my closest ally, and who had chosen blind deference to Cornelius Grey over loyalty to me.

I am still washing his blood from my face


[20:03 PM] A tense situation is resolved with no assassin casualties, but Emile Ward's accomplice goes down.
Mop reports:

So. For the last time, Magdala Buckley and I need competence. For the first time since Evgeny betrayed Andrew and thus cut our team in half, we go hunting.

Our first stop was someone who was long overdue a swift death, The Spanish Inquisition. We got into the building and found his room quickly, despite what others have said in the past. And then we must have been there for at least half an hour just deciding what to do. We messaged a friend of mine who lived closely, but he was not available to help. We kept thinking we heard noises from his room (we were standing below it, in full view of someone else's peephole) and nothing came of it. We checked the gyp a lot but all the noise there was the same person making food, probably wondering what the hell we were doing. Eventually, after a lot of awful plans, we came up with a vaguely decent one and went up to his room. It was empty. And unlocked.

For the two of us, competence is a very strong word.

Heading out, we decided to take on one of the big four, Emile Ward. I'd attempted in his staircase before so finding it wasn't a problem, and we were soon outside his room. A group of three people, not him, went into one of the other rooms on the floor, saying 'so either they're waiting for Connor, or they're assassins.' How the hell did our lives end up like this, seriously. One of them goes out of that room, into the gyp, says hello to another person and leaves. We think that could well be him. We're about to enter when someone comes up the stairs. Emile Ward. We both make eye contact with him and he legs it down the stairs. I fire a shot and hit the bottom of the floor above, Magdala Buckley hurls a rabid attack pasty and narrowly misses his leg. We end up at the bottom of the staircase, and realise we don't know where he is, and that we are screwed. We... genuinely don't know what to do, knowing he was probably outside the (only) exit door but potentially somewhere in the staircase. We contemplate locking ourselves in the building's two toilet cubicles (that we knew of) for... a long time. Then two guys come in. The first was probably the least a guy could possibly look like Emile Ward, but he mentioned the word assassins and he looked vaguely (really not) like another assassin and I panicked and I shot him in the chest. The second also wasn't Emile Ward, who we then spotted running around outside the staircase, and we had a fun conversation with the two guys in which they specifically mentioned being Emile Ward's accomplices, and asked that if we were both alive, why didn't we kill each other? After all we've been through together... Anyway, they left. Both of us were terrified, just hoping to somehow make it out alive. On our side, we had more assassins were prepared with equipment, but they had more people, knowledge of the area and they weren't trapped inside a fucking staircase. We both go up a floor and people re–enter, and it's clear Emile Ward is one of them. We go further up so that we'd have half a chance of seeing him, and his accomplices start ascending too. "First floor secured!" one calls and at this point I've left Magdala Buckley behind (I'M SORRY) and gone up to the top floor, where his room was. Accomplice 2 saw me from a couple of floors below. I waved. He didn't mention it, instead just saying "second floor secured!" I had no idea where Magdala Buckley was (hiding in a gyp on the next floor up instead of standing in plain sight like you, you idiot) but then I saw Emile Ward down on the first floor, and fired a shot from a really awkP3 angle. It landed quite close, but not close enough, and shortly after he noticed that "They're shooting at us!" and ran all the way down, followed by the accomplices. I go down a floor and reunite with Magdala Buckley, wondering what to do. An accomplice told us "he's not coming out", and I said that was fine as long as they let us out alive (bwaaaark, I know). They seemed surprised but agreed (maybe we should have gone for him, given that he probably only had melee weapons, but oh well) and we agreed that he'd lock himself in the toilet and we'd be granted escape, which we gladly took (guns pointed at the cubicle, obviously). We then ran like hell into the night.

Magdala Buckley reports:

Went hunting with Mop. Made an attempt on The Spanish Inquisition, but he wasn't in is room; we waited around for around an hour before moving on.
We then made an attempt on Emile Ward; we waited around his room for a while; he saw us while coming up the stairs and a brief battle ensued. It ended with Mop and I being trapped inside the building while Emile Ward was outside. He sent an accomplice in, who was shot by Mop when he startled us by entering and mentioning our identity as agents. After hiding up the stairs, Emile Ward and his accomplices came back up the stairs. After another (terrifying) brief shoot–out with Mop, we managed to negotiate a truce and fled for our lives.

Magdala Buckley

Emile Ward reports:

Today two assassins came to kill me. I came up to my room and on the landing I found them waiting for me. Realising I wouldn't have a chance as I hadn't got proper weapons with me, I ran off as fast as I could. Later with the help of accomplices I got back and we negotiated that they could get out, with all three of us surviving. It was a close call, but they've got to do better.


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