Darkest Days and Longest Nights

A hunting we will go

My trail has gone cold, the Keeper is either gone or staying real quiet for the moment. I feel like I’m close, the pain in my sinus getting more sharp as I move through the city.This may not be my white whale however, I’ve come across others, and have been disappointed over and over again.

Theres rumor of a spook haunting in some water logged cave out in the boonies according to the forums. This isn’t my game, but if their is some ghost laden shit hole in the ground it’s probably worth checking out. There is a kinship between my target and the dead, knowing more about them will only help me move forward.

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Oh boy...
Aaron Brandt

I’m not quite sure about all this. First some secret agent shit with a computer nerd, then a down-low meet n greet in the warehouse district, now a search and rescue mission in Bugtussle, MI. The funding is mediocre, but most of us seem to have the gear we need. The crew I’m with is quite the mixed bag. At least we have some competence with Anton and Jim. We’ll see how the others pan out. I’m concerned about Drew. If he can’t pull his shit together we might be in trouble. I haven’t quite figured out what his place in the crew is yet. “Driver” it ain’t.

We have seen only glimpses of the bad guys and it doesn’t look good. Found a van that belonged to our Lost. Gear still mostly intact, indications of injury, no bodies. We’ve found several tunnels. Who knows what dug them. Our investigation had led us to believe that the Lost have been taken into those tunnels. I know following the bad guys into their den is a bad idea, but it’s the only lead we have…

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In Over My Head
Erika Mathers

I think I’m in over my head. The programming, the hacking, a little design work here and there, I was practically raised “speaking” code. Hell, I think I’m better at relaying myself to a computer than I am to a person. A safe life fighting those things from afar by way of directing information, that’s what I signed up for. The “internship” with the front company’s been going great, as far as anyone at the University is concerned I’m writing and reviewing code for Sexy Saint Paul. Have been for the last eighteen months. That’s all simple enough, I can’t quite do it in my sleep but I’m getting there. Meeting with the Hunters, though? I thought I was going to wet myself when I saw Medic82, er, Brandt, with that pistol in his hand. I couldn’t even hold it together by phone. I stumbled over my words while trying to get them prepared for the mission, I’m sure that inspired a lot of confidence. Now, I’m coordinating mission briefs from a distance while I research and try to give them something, anything that can help them. The satellite feeds were a big fail, the trees cover the entire damned space. I haven’t been able to get in touch with BubbaJay since last night, and I’ve been tied too tight to the desk to go see if he’s home or not. Just where the Hell he could be if he’s not there is anyone’s guess, and I really can’t afford to think about it just yet. I didn’t sleep much last night, this whole thing’s made me a nervous wreck. I really don’t want to let them down. I’m working through several databases trying to see if I can find any links that might help, but so far all I’ve found is a string of missing persons in the area. It’s a lead, sure, but nothing that will help them without more details. No discernible pattern between the victims, and most of them weren’t even locals. I’m hoping that the other ones come through, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s probably a bit much, asking a total stranger to drive to the middle of nowhere to save someone they’ve never met. I really admire the six that went. I didn’t think we’d get more than two to agree to it. I can understand, though. Being alone in the world knowing what you know and hoping you’re not crazy, that’s impossible to bear. At least when you see it again and there’s someone else beside you it confirms that you’re not due for a long stay at a psych ward. Must make it less frightening, I know it did for me. Now, the realization that there were all sorts of things out there higher on the food chain than me, that might be a little scarier. But at least I don’t have to do it alone.

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New World, Familiar Monsters
Anton Zamojda

We aren’t yet the wolves I had hoped. We have the fang and claw but do not work as pack. Yet. Some are new to this, to danger of death. It is familiar to me. I know it, from the old country. I can tell that Aaron and Jim are not new to it. The others, they are. They do knot know what it is to live under fear of death from time of waking to time of sleeping. If they survive, they will get harder. It becomes the normal. Drew woke up loud last night, with a scream. He had nightmare. The man with all the guns is nervous type. He drove too fast last night, got scared. I am hoping that they do not run away when time comes to fight. That we can not afford. There are six of us. The computer woman says that three figures are seen in one of the videos. We have number advantage if this is right, but we can not be sure. We are staring down hole, while everyone sits and thinks what they are doing here. No one wants to be the first in, no one wants to get stuck with whatever is inside. We will go, we will see what it is. And we will kill it. I hope that the reporter is still alive. But, if nothing else, we will do good work by destroying whatever monster is in the hole. I will say prayer for us, before we go in. I have much penance to do before I am done, and many more things to do that will need more penance.

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White Rabbit
Maureen Marshall

This is the first time that I’ve been outside of the city in more than a year. Since I fled the farmstead, and left the entire flock to that beast. I knew, as I walked the streets of Minneapolis, that the monsters existed there too. I saw a thing or two. It’s inescapable, and now I’m back in the brush, hunting more dangerous prey. I feel more at peace here than I ever did in the city. The monster running around here certainly doesn’t make me feel any darned good, but I’m tired of running scared. I’m terrified as I’m hunting it, but at least I’m taking control. I’m fighting back. Daddy didn’t raise a girly girl, he sure didn’t. I was hunting bucks by the time I was 9. I’ve had about thirty five years of practice. I just have to think about this like hunting bear, which I’ve done too. The hunter can become the hunted. Have to stay aware, keep your eyes open and your ears trained for signs of what it is you’re hunting. So long as you know about it before it knows about you, that’s good hunting. Of course, we didn’t really go into the bear’s den. But Daddy didn’t raise a coward, either. I know what’s right, and we can’t just let this thing keep taking people. It just ain’t right. There’s no telling how many people will lose their lives if we just walk away from this thing. I just don’t think I could handle the guilt of walking away from these guys and leaving them to do it themselves. So it’s time for me to get myself together. I’m tired of being the prey, running like some scared rabbit. No, we’re going to follow this thing into it’s den and see about doing away with it.

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Not How I Imagined It
Drew Walker

What the Hell have I gotten myself into here? I mean, I know what’s lurking in the sewers round my joint. I seen em, I’ve watched em. Feed. Creep round. Do their thing. I figured that’s what we’d be doin. That’s how it’d work. I seen em, and I’m used to em in a weird kinda way. But out here in the woods, these holes. Them things that they say were in the headlights. Way they described em, could be them things round the block. But I don’t know. Don’t seem like it. Seems like somethin dif’rent. Somethin scarier. Could just be these woods, I ain’t used to bein outside of the city really. I like my neighborhood, I know every step of it. Hell, I grew up there, I know most of the block’s dirty secrets. But this ain’t the same, I get lost out here and I ain’t going to know which way to run. The reporter team sure as Hell didn’t. Now we’re lookin down this hole, tryin to figure out jus what it could be. Erika says there’re some kinda stories bout changing spiders and underground vampires. I’d take the damned vampire any day. Spiders creep me the Hell out. And we’re goin to do down into this hole, chasing a vampire, or spider, or whatever. We have no idea. I jus figured it’d be different, is all…

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And the game's afoot
Jim Kingston

You’ve reached Jim, but he’s out doing something or another. If this is Bobby, your mom says hi, for anyone else, leave a message after the beep!


BEEP****

I’m out in the middle of nowhere MN. Our rescue of Ms Nordic has turned into a search and recovery..and a high probability of hostile contact. The transport was wrecked; all available data was salvaged. Apparently the predator/prey uses tunnels to move throughout the area. It may be a a leech or a arachnid, but whatever it is, we intend to hunt it down, and either bring back our contacts or avenge them.

I only hope the first foray of this group doesn’t turn out to be the last exercise.

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Nowhere to Hide
Anton Zamojda

I fled Bosnia to get away from them. Then New York, then Chicago. The monsters. Old country, the folk, they knew. They know. This is why we carry cross, or star, or garlic. Or holy water. This is why we get tattoos of holy symbol. Why we ward the frame of door. Why we do not trust stranger. Why we look over shoulder. The wars teach us that there is much danger. Much to be worried about. Make us keen, so we know that world is not safe. The man who walks by on road, he could have gun. He could have knife. He could bear curse of thirst, and if you are not careful he could give to you. Death was everywhere. This make us more careful. Make us wiser about such things. When faced with it every day, all day, you start to pay attention. So you see, I knew from time growing up that monsters exist. Some wear uniform, have gun. Others sharp claw, or sharp fang. We are grown to see them for what they are. Many here think me superstitious, but it is only because they are blind. Hopefully they will never have reason to know that they are wrong. Americans live in a bubble. Without the threat of death they grow soft, they stop looking. This is why they are such easy prey. For those like me, who make a living off of them. And for those unlike me, those that live on them. I know now. from this Vortex web site, that I am not alone. That I am not crazy, and that all of the Americans are not unaware. I will find them, and will see what they are doing. What they can offer. How it is that they have survived long enough to get the video, the audio. The picture. The public of America may be like sheep against bears. But these hunters, they could be like wolves against bears. I have reached out. We will see if they reach back or if they are all talk.

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RIP Mark Smith
Aaron Brandt

Now it’s personal.

Last night, my partner Mark and I got a call to respond to an injury related to an animal bite at a camp ground in a rather remote area, north of Minneapolis. The dispatcher couldn’t provide any further information but said she heard a dog barking it’s head off in the background, so we treated it as low-risk call. Per usual, we beat the responding police officer to the scene. He must have been asleep in a parking garage somewhere.

It was strange. Usually when we show up, there are bystanders or relations of the victim standing around or waving us in, but there wasn’t anyone in sight. We found the right campsite (it was the only one occupied) and got out to assess the situation. Two cars parked in in the gravel area, two tents set up, a campfire burning with camp chairs set up around it…no people. Hell, there wasn’t even a cricket chirping. Mark called out for the victim, but we got no response. There was a dog leash attached to the bumper of on of the cars, but no dog… or snap for that matter, just a frayed end. On the ground in front of one of the camp chairs was an open cell phone.

Thats when I noticed the tracks. In the dirt next to the campfire were what appeared to be a persons bare footprints… if that person wore a size 20 shoe and had … talons. I pulled out my flashlight and looked closer. As soon as I illuminated the grass I found the blood. It takes an awful lot of liquid to saturate ground, and this ground looked like a maroon swamp. Mark and I looked at one another, turned and hauled ass back to the ambulance. He isn’t nearly as fast as I am and, I’m ashamed to say, I wasn’t waiting for him either. As I rounded the driver’s side, I heard a rush of wind, then a startled gasp from Mark… and then he was screaming, high pitched and piercing. Before I could get back around the side of the bus, the volume of his scream was changing, moving back toward the wood line to the east. Still, I was moving…

I can still see his face in my mind. His eyes were locked to mine, terrified, pleading. His face was distorted in pain and fear. He was draped over the shoulder of… some … thing, trying with all his might to wrest himself from it’s grasp. The thing was the shape of a man, but half again as tall, pale skinned and hairless. It must have been immeasurably strong to run carrying Mark like that. It made no sound at all as it rushed toward the trees. Just before it entered the trees, it turned and looked at me. That face… those eyes… My skin crawled and I felt a wave of pure malice wash over me… Then it was gone. That was the last time I ever saw Mark Smith alive.

I’ll tell you right now, I locked my self in that ambulance, put out an OH FUCK call on the radio and hunkered down to wait for the cavalry to come rescue me. They found Mark early the next morning in a small clearing in the woods about a mile from the campsite. Rather, they found what was left of him… Mostly his head was intact. That was about it. The rest had been… chewed on… like a drumstick.

Mark was my friend. We drank beer and chased girls together off duty. Hell, I used to date his sister and for a while it looked like we were going to be brothers in law. Mark deserved better than that. I have seen men die in the chaos of combat. I have never seen anything that approaches the level of horror and helplessness I saw on his face. It hasn’t been that long since I wore the uniform. I still have the skills, still have some gear. I can get the rest, they pay me pretty good here.

Whatever that thing was, it better have it’s affairs in order. It won’t be the first thing I’ve killed, or the last, but it’s going to be the next…

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WTF is going on?
Aaron Brandt
I don’t understand it. I have been involved in emergency medicine for years now, in every place from Kabul to Baghdad to East Minneapolis. I have never before seen the types of injuries and deaths that I’ve been seeing in the past 18 months. People with arms and legs ripped off. Corpses that are little more than lifeless husks, almost completely devoid of tissue and fluid. Yesterday, my bus responded to a suspicious death scene where the body was totally devoid of blood. Complete exsanguination should be impossible produce in a person. Even traumatic amputation leaves you a little blood. And the bites. I saw a teenager on an overlook the other day that had a bite taken out of his side you’d have though was made by Jaws. I have heard stories about the occasional bear coming into town and I have even been to a death scene where a bear attacked a hiker. I know what the bite marks look like and there aren’t any natural predators round these parts capable of inflicting bigger ones. Natural predators… So, here I am. There are things going on around here that defy my ability to explain. I am not stupid. When you rule out all other possible explanations, you are left with the answer, no matter how unlikely. I think there are monsters, and not the human kind. I’m scared. I am preparing for a fight. Fighting is something I know a bit about. Is there anyone else out there? Anyone else come to this same conclusion and can shed some light on all this? Tell me I’m not crazy
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