Howard Endgame


The whole idea seems impossible, but here it is. Here they are, riding on an Atlantean cargo transport. Not that Howard is seeing much of it at the moment, hiding in a deactivated stasis-box on the back of said cargo transport, heading for the checkpoint that is the last barrier that stands between them and their goal. Their selfmade destiny. Still, as he waits in the darkness, he is provided with the opportunity to think, and think he does. At first it’s all formulas and science, but then there is a bump in the road, and his armoured head clanks against the roof of his stasis-box. His thoughts fall silent.

Then, in the stillness, old words rise once again within his mind:
What is the fire?’

He thought he knew the answer, once, but he was only partially right. Knowledge is part of it, but not all – not the least part of the gift he intends to give to the New World they will build together. Engine. Heart. Dagger. Now, now he knows what the Fire is. Now he knows what Prometheus stole of old. The good servant. The bad master.

There’s another bump in the road. This time he’s ready for it.

What is the fire?

“Watch and see,” he replies, and in his eyes there burns the faint gleam of what can only be called Possibility.

Watch and see.

Alistair Endgame

“Well, fuck, we’re going to Atlantis,” Alistair mumbled to himself. As Howard would say, this is a bad idea. However, despite the stakes Alistair found himself surprisingly at peace. Having died once already and found the experience rather rewarding he was somewhat unconcerned about his mortal fate. The thing that drove him now was genuine, if foolish concern for others, especially his ex-wife, but also Sway, Sylvia and the others. If he could play some part, however small, in keeping them alive, or launching them into the best timeline possible given the shitty possibilities… that seemed worth doing.

Thus he found himself working the hours away, before departure, relying on his ridiculous stamina to keep him going. May as well get all the wonder-working he can done while here in the sanctum. Once on Atlantis, he had a feeling, drawing on the divine light was going to be much much harder.

So, first things first. Starting projects in the order of hope, Alistair distilled and concocted a dram for each member of the cabal based on a purified, even idealized version of their fate. He clearly and distinctly set about reversing the bonds of fate between the Rogue Council and each member as though the fate-whiskey were both a scouring agent and a restorative, completely erasing even the memory of the presence of Rogue Council influence. Furthermore, if he was right, drinking the potion would have the effect of clarifying for each individual, their highest destiny – making it possible for them to choose, intentionally to live into it. He very likely would never get to distill again in this life, so he put all his artistry into it. Triple distilled, magically aged, draughts of the finest amber fate dribbled into delicate 6oz crystal vials. The bouquet wafting out was simultaneously potent and enticing, each bottle bursting with the peculiarities of the individual it was bound to. Howard’s bottle tantalizing the nose with unactualized possibility. Sway’s brimming with an effusion of new life. Sylvia’s smooth and soothing like the oldest and most expensive single malt. Joe’s dark and dangerous with a burn guaranteed to eat memories for breakfast. And so on…

In between each stage of the distilling Alistair would return to his altar where he had laid an array of bullets.

“Right boys, now listen up.” Each little bullet would shift slightly to point toward the sound of his voice. “We’ve got a hell of a situation on our hands and there’s no time to train you up proper like I did the recruits before you. To put it simply, Heaven needs some good warriors, so mighty fearless angels of death, ready and willing to take it to the enemy for God. There are a variety of awakened bastards where we’re going and they’re intent on destroying God’s good creation, and because God is benevolent, because God restrains himself from sending another flood to wipe out mankind, it’s up to us to make sure they fail. So here’s what I need you to do…” Alistair proceeds to train them in the details of ripping an avatar away from an awakened soul.

While the bullets are sleeping, absorbing their new mission in life, Alistair pulls out a handful of rosaries – one for each member of the group. In each rosary he imbues the most powerful spirit and entropy wards he can concoct, making them as subtle as he can, while sacrificing none of the strength. He prepares them and leaves them latent, ready to be activated when each bearer says aloud the Lord’s Prayer.

Finally, after the vials of fate have finished their last phase through the distilling tubes, Alistair calls for Joe and asks for his help. “Much as I hate to acknowledge it, ye had a good idea lad, with the mastema ash and all that…” He, with Joe’s help prepares a second batch of potions, this one much fouler. The ash of the mastema, poisoned mushroom, blood, entropic energy and so on – with this vile brew Alistair distills a liquid black as night and seals it in little metal flasks. “This is going to taste like shit, and feel even worse,” he warns Joe, “but it should work like a series of dams. If you imagine our fate like a branching river extending into the future, this noxious liquor should seal off each of those pathways which end prematurely in us dying from some weapon or other. Hopefully, like the mastema, this will make us almost immune to dying by violent means – for a short while.”

Alistair distributes these items to each member of the group: one vial of purified fate, one rosary of warding, one flask of immunity to weapons. He explains their usage and says a prayer over each one, that they actually, fucking, work.

Then he goes back to his room, says some prayers to Columba and climbs in bed. He reaches out habitually to check that Gae Bolga is in the drawer by his bedside. She is.

“Goodnight, girl,” he says, “The world is most likely going to end in the morning.”


The kitten huddles under the dresser, peering askance at Joe.

“Look, Cat, I did get you to be my pet. It would be nice if you would cut me a little slack here and at least make the effort to try to like me.” Joe is lying on his bedroom floor, watching the kitten. “I mean, I do feed you and all.” The kitten just blinks at him. Joe sighs.

“Do you know why I got you? Why I decided I needed a pet?” The kitten did not voice any guesses, so he continued. “I got you because I wanted something to connect me to the world… this world. Something… something to care about. I’m alone, alright? Even here, even among the others of this cabal, I don’t fit in. They all have lives on the outside… I don’t. I don’t belong, anywhere. Hell, to the rest of the world, I don’t even exist. So, I have to ask myself… why? Why am I fighting? Why do I even care? I don’t have a family, or a religion, or a career… hell, I can’t even remember if I have ever been kissed!” Joe sighs again. “So I figured I would find something like you, something to care about, something that would care about me… but I guess you can’t force anyone to like you, not even an animal, huh? After all, I’m just a Key, and I’m beginning to suspect that it’s to something nobody wants opened.”

Joe sits up. “Oh well, I’ll fight anyway; what else have I got to do? Besides, I want to get those fuckers who tricked and used me.” He looks down at the kitten again. “Okay, Cat, I know you want out. Go see Sway. You remember her, the pretty girl from when I picked you out; you’ll probably like her alot more than you do me. Jason’s cool too, but stay away from the others; Allistair might try to convert you, Sylvia might try something with her squirrels, and Howard might try to stick you in his machine. You’re one cute little piece of possibility I would rather be in this world than the weird little one he’d creating. Even if there doesn’t seem to be any possibility for me in any of them.” He opens the bedroom door. The kitten eyes him, weighs it’s chances, then bolts out. “And watch out for that goddamned Roomba!” he calls after it.

Agent Winter

The projected image flickers again, disintegrates into pixels, and then resolves in a higher-resolution image of Agent Winter. This one is slightly more animated, and his features appear a bit more deeply etched. He passes his hand briefly over his mouth, and it rasps over his stubble.

“Greetings. I apologize, I was otherwise engaged.”

“It seems that things are…more complicated than we guessed. Apparently, the defense system employed on Atlantis is based on the Chaos…Entropy effect that marks every member of the Rogue Council. I was not aware of the exact nature of the effect – it is not my specialty. But it has been…brought to my attention” his eyes flicker to the side, then back “that the nature of the effect is such that…whoever is bound by it will be bound to the ‘fate’ of the Rogue Council.”

“So, among other things, we need to discuss whether we are willing to risk bypassing these defenses by some other means. Or, if not, we will need to come up with other options quickly.”

Alistair’s Kin

Alistair rustles up some paper and a pen from Sylvia’s office and sits down at a table to write. It is clear from his demeanor that he considers this a very important action. He is concentrating intensely, and shifting his weight deciding what to say. He is not skilled with words so this does not come easily. As he writes it is like his very soul is being poured out on the page. He sweats, staining the words, but this is about more than ink. It is a magical letter, and as his pen races his lips mouth a prayer to St. Columba again and again.

My dear wife,
I know I’ve no right to call you that, but my hand refused to write anything else down. I don’t know if writing you now is the best thing to do. I’ve been so confused and desperate to reach out to you, to help you, but I fear that I may only make things worse. It is possible that reading this will only make you angry at me, or that you will decide I am mad. I wouldn’t blame you for thinking I was insane. But if the vows we made before God meant anything to you I ask you to do me the favor of reading this to the end, and then reading it out loud to our two girls, Molly and Mae.
My life in the last year of our separation has been full of change. You will be happy to know that I have exorcised my demons – even the demon drink. I don’t think anyone believed it was possible and I had to die and be resurrected for it to happen, but it has. I am a free man.
However, through these changes I’ve become acquainted with aspects of the world I am now intricately involved in for better or worse. There is no way to say this which will sound anything but ridiculous to you, but this world is not a fixed unchanging place. People can and do manipulate it with their will, or technology, or the divine blessing of the saints – it happens in different ways, but I’ve seen impossible things happen – frequently.
Right now however, our world is going through such rapid and frequent change at the hands of a few powerful people, that I am afraid the end times may have in fact arrived. Things are falling apart. Many there are whose intentions are foul. There are three groups in particular who work for the destruction of everything. One you will know right away – the Atlanteans. Atlantis claims to be working for the betterment of the world, but their methods will result in nothing good. Another will be familiar to you though you do not know them by name – the Technocrats. They will introduce themselves as employees of Unity Corp or some other convenient public entity or they will appear as competent businessmen and scientists. They desire only control. The third will seem too far-fetched to be real: the Nephandi. They are people who crave the annihilation of existence, being near them will be like approaching the edge of nothingness incarnate.
I beg you to believe me, though this may all seem ridiculous to you. However, if this letter has done it’s job you need only search your heart and you will know the truth.
This brings me to the purpose for which I am writing. If you have read this aloud as I requested then you and each of our girls may call on me by voice if ever you are in danger. Shout my name aloud and wherever I am, I will know it. I am working for a better world for your sakes. Though only God can undo the damage I wrought in your lives, I can dedicate myself toward improving the future for us all.
I can’t, I never will stop loving you.

When the letter is finished Alistair folds the paper, which seems more real, more present than it had before. In comparison the table seems hazy and indistinct. He slides the folded paper into an envelope and seals it.

At once he begins praying over the envelope, running his amulet over the seal, and petitioning St. Columba for power and efficacy. He knows that he has imbued the text with an entropic effect continent upon the readers of the letter crying out his name. Should they trust him and do this when in trouble he is sure that the threads of fate will carry the message to him across the miles, because his own fate is connected to theirs. It is a small thing, but it gives him some comfort.