“Who are you?’, I shout through the empty void. No one answers. I feel a rush of energy and see a distant memory. A child running through a meadow as his small hands brushed lightly against a flower petal. I could even feel and smell the flower. Sweet, but entirely unhelpful. I search for more memories, only stumbling upon some more recent ones. Those were the bad ones. The child was grown up now, going through a variety of horrible experiences as he fought on the front lines. Cowering in the trenches. Pressing a damp cloth to his face because there were no more gas masks. Ducking as a German artillery shell sends shrapnel above his head.
I take a step back, stepping out of those memories, and push them to the side. All of a sudden, fear—which I identify as a thick purple smog—filled the cavernous space. At first I think I have caused it, possible I have unintentionally released these emotions by revisiting those memories. Then I realize it. The light dims.
“No no no no no!”, I shout as the light turns to darkness.
I close my eyes for ten seconds. Ten, Nine, Eight… The feeling of the smog slowly fades. Seven, Six, Five… I felt as if I was being slowly pulled backwards. Four, Three, Two.
I open my eyes. I am no longer in the cavernous space. I am in a large military hospital full of rows and rows of mostly empty beds. The man in the bed in front of me, is wearing multiple casts. The man from the memories.
He is unmoving. His eyes are closed. He isn’t breathing. He is dead. I looked down at the base of his bed, seeing a nametag, which reads: “Private Charles van Pelt”. I sigh. All that time inside that man’s head and I couldn’t even learn his name. There are a few other people in the room: A military chaplain, a few nurses, and at least ten injured soldiers.
I hear footsteps behind me and turn around to see the Head Doctor, Dr. Gabriel Lichter II, coming towards me. He is a thin, bald man, who wears glasses and has a long black moustache. Dr. Lichter was one of the only Doctors in the army who believed that the Telepathic treatment could work.
“So how was your meeting with Private van Pelt?”, he asks.
“Not very good”, I say, gesturing to the body in the bed.
Dr. Lichter’s moustache seems to droop. “I suppose there was not much of a chance you could save him anyway”, he sighs, “Thanks for trying”. He lifts the blanket over the dead man.
As I turn to leave, I hear a soft Click. A nurse screams and drops the bowl of soup in her hands. I turn around to see a man, in a British army uniform, pressing a silver gun to Dr. Lichter’s head.
“Mr. Stewart”, The man says, “I believe you have something of mine”.
He’s talking about the pocket watch which I was told to never to let out of my sight. I stare into his eyes. His pupils begin to dilate. Soon I am transported into a cavernous room, similar to the one before, except it is in the man’s mind instead of Van Pelt’s. I feel a force pushing me back. The man is defending against me. I push forward, but he is too strong. As I slowly get pushed out of the man’s mind, I manage to see his name.
All of a sudden, I hear a loud bang and I am pulled out of David’s mind. As soon as I open my eyes, I feel nauseous, as I always do when I don’t exit someone’s mind properly. It’s one of the many reasons why I count to ten before exiting. But I suppose that the body on floor is more important. The Nurse has fainted, her head lying in the puddle of spilt soup. The man, David, disappears as quickly as he materialized. Before he vanishes, he gives a warning:
“Return the device by tomorrow. You know what will happen if you don’t”
As I sit on a bench in Central Park, a man rides past me on his bicycle. He swerves around some pedestrians, who grumble angrily at him. Out here, he is just a reckless biker. But to others, he is known as Colonel A.J Miller, a high-ranking military officer who has just returned home from the front lines. He travelled from London to New York to meet with me. As he rides his bike past me, he drops a manila envelope onto my lap.
I whisper a silent “Thank-You” to Miller before tearing open the envelope. Inside is a report labelled “David Pope”. An attached picture confirms his identity. The same young face, chiselled features, and British army uniform.
The file is half a page long.
Name: David Pope
Birth Date: ?
The list continues, listing multiple categories, all with question marks at the end. It appears that even the Generals in London don’t know who Pope is. There is only one other item in the envelope. A letter:
Although the hope of finding Dr. Lichter’s killer looks slim, I have managed to find one additional piece of information: Before 1916, Private David Pope did Not exist.
I can’t find any records of him until August 14th, 1916, when the photo was taken. He looks about 25. It seems possible that someone could have fabricated the identity of Private Pope in order to escape past crimes.
Other Records of Pope show that he was deployed in Krzywopłoty, Poland and Varna, Bulgaria. Multiple accounts of looting in mansions and museums nearby have been reported. It is possible that he could be involved.
I will continue to report on any new information regarding the Private, if we are to find more.
I cringe. Krzywopłoty. Varna. All places where Telepath artifacts—and the Telepaths guarding them—were located. Telepath artifact vaults were spread across the warzone that had once been Europe. There must have been many more artifacts that Pope looted.
I take the pocket watch out of my pocket. I flip open the brass cover, emblazoned with the face of a lion, revealing the watch face beneath. It looks just like a normal watch, except that the numbers have been replaced with symbols. I don’t know what they mean.
The watch was given to me, last week in St. Petersburg, by the last Russian Telepath since Grigori Rasputin. The man was shot before he could tell me what to do with it. I managed to escape to Paris, where I started my business of Telepathic Medical Treatment.
I stare at the watch again. According to Pope’s warning, I am supposed to return the watch to him by today. I think about his warning. You know what will happen if you don’t. All twelve members of the Telepath High Council have gone missing. What will happen to them if I fail?
Suddenly, a strong Telepathic presence interrupts my thoughts.
Someone is trying to connect with me
I hear a voice—David Pope’s voice—speaking in my head. It is quiet, barely above a whisper:
HS Koningin Regentes… today… five o’ clock… Boston, Lincolnshire, England… Follow Matthews.
Pope has told me where to bring the watch and when. If I don’t, twelve men will die.
I find the nearest teleportation station to Lincolnshire, and I catch the HS Koningin Regentes before it leaves the town of Boston. It’s a hospital steamship sailing to Rotterdam. By five O’clock, we are out at sea.
Upon my arrival, the Captain make an announcement for a ‘Nurse Matthews’ to head down to one of the decks, located near the ship’s paddle wheel. Instead of finding a nurse, however, I am greeted by Pope. His uniform is in tatters, his face is scratched (with a large scar down his left cheek), and he walks with a slight limp.
“Hand over the watch”, he growls.
“How do I know you will release the Council”, I say.
Pope smiles, and holds up a round glass orb. I recognize it. A Seer Stone. Within the orb, a misty image of a port in Rotterdam appears. Three cars pull up. The doors open in unison. An elderly man stumbles out. He turns his head, and I get a glimpse of his face. Matthias Kruger. One of the Council Members. One by one, the twelve old men leave the cars.
“They’ll be waiting when we arrive in Rotterdam”, adds Pope.
The last people to get out of the cars were men dressed in Dutch Army uniforms, who watched as the Council members slowly hobbled off. Their faces were identical to Pope’s.
“How?”, I say to him.
“None of your business!”, he snaps, “Hand over the watch!”.
I hear the low rumble of a motor as a speedboat approaches us. I can hear the captain yelling something inaudibly at us as they draw near. When Pope is momentarily distracted, I throw the watch. He dives to catch it as it skids along the deck, but he misses it and the watche falls into the paddle wheel.
The speedboat appears alongside the steamship. The captain, who I now see is a woman wearing a red jacket, calls to me from her boat.
“Get in!”, She yells.
When I hesitate, she adds: “I’ve been sent by the Council”.
While Pope gets up, I clamber over the railing and fall in to the boat in a less than graceful manner.
As the Woman in the boat speeds away from the HS Koningin Regentes, I get a closer look at her face. I recognize her. She is Theodora Asterio, daughter of Morgan Asterio, one of the Council members.
“Mr. Stewart”, she shouts over the din of the engine, “The Council has sent me to rescue you. They asked me to send you to Stockholm”.
“What’s going on!?”, I ask.
“I’ll start at the beginning”, says Theodora, “A long time ago, the Council hid their most prized possessions in a vault that moves every few years. They made an Atlas that could show where it was. In order to read the complicated Atlas, the Telepaths used a few devices, most notably your watch”.
“So Pope wants to use the watch to find the Atlas?”, I ask, “Who is he?”
“It is a parasite”, said Theodora, “A Shapeshifter imprisoned by the Council until it escaped. It possessed an Astro-Hungarian soldier, Konstantin Erdös in 1916. It faked his death, and reappeared as a British soldier named David Pope. The parasite spread to others, who took on Konstantin’s appearance”.
There is a loud boom. I turn around, and see that the Dutch Steamship is sinking. It has been torpedoed.
“We don’t have time!”, shouts Theodora, stopping the engine.
She removes a small device from her coat. A portable teleporter, only given to high-ranking Telepaths. She presses a button on the device.
There is a bright flash, and the boat reappears in another body of water inside a large cave. There is another flash beside us, and another boat appears beside us. The Captain waves at us in a friendly manner. More boats teleport in around the underground lake, while others float up from further down the passage.
Theodora steers the boat towards a dock in the center of the cave. We climb onto the dock, and Theodora walks towards a pair of large Mahogany doors.
“Where are we?”, I ask.
“A cave system under Stockholm”, she answers, “It’s where the Council headquarters are”. Through the doors, there is a wood panelled passage. Men and women in suits walk up and down the hallway, disappearing through different doors. Theodora leads me through a series of rooms, passageways, and stairs until we arrive at the center of the headquarters. We stand on a balcony, overlooking a large cylindrical library. In the center, an Armillary Sphere spins and twirls. Theodora called to a man working at the desk under the sphere.
“Dr. Frost!”, she calls.
The man looks up.
“Oh!”, he says, startled, “Theodora! You’re back! Come! Join me”.
We climb down a spiral staircase to the ground floor. Theodora introduces me to the man.
“Mr. Benjamin Stewart, meet Dr. Hugo Frost”, she says, “He’s been spearheading the project to decipher the Atlas”.
“Yes”, Dr. Frost says, shaking my hand, “But I admit it’s been hard without the watch”.
“Oh!”, I say, pulling the watch out of my pocket, “I… um… had a copy made. I threw the fake at Pope, and kept the real one”.
Theodora looks shocked. Dr. Frost takes the watch, and returns to his desk. He lays it by a book, which I assume is the Atlas. After fiddling with the watch and muttering under his breath, he seems to discover something.
“Eureka!”, he shouts, ”It’s in the Congo”.
Dr. Frost runs excitedly down the hall to a Teleporter Station, where he types in a pair of co-ordinates. The Teleporter begins to glow.
“Are you sure it’s safe?”, I ask.
“Of course”, replies Dr. Frost, “The Council wouldn’t allow defective Teleportation machines”.
“No”, I say, “I mean the Congo”.
“Probably not”, He says.
I expect to land on the dirt floor beneath a jungle canopy, but instead, Theodora and I are Teleported straight into the Vault. It is a windowless stone room with no exits. In the center there is a single podium with a black urn on top, decorated with hieroglyphics.
“That’s it?”, I say, “Just an urn?”.
Theodora looks closer at the urn. “Well maybe it’s…”, she begins.
She is interrupted by a soft Click. It’s the same one I heard in that Hospital yesterday. It comes from Pope’s gun. I turn around, but instead of Pope, I see Dr. Lichter. Only it’s not him. Dr. Gabriel Lichter II is dead. This is a parasite.
“Hand over the urn!”, shouts the parasite, as it shapeshifts into the form of Pope, its first, and favourite, host.
“No”, I say.
He shoots, but Theodora tackles him. His bullet goes astray and hits the urn. It shatters, and a strange, gaseous substance escapes. As Pope (or Lichter, or the Parasite) falls to the ground, I stare into his eyes. His pupils dilate, and I enter his mind.
It is chaotic. Memories and emotions from his past life mix. The purple mist of fear. A sea of sadness. Fires of anger. I see through his eyes. He absorbs the gaseous substance. He grows bigger and I feel the raw energy of strength surge through his body. I influence his mind, forcing him to stop. Theodora sees the opportunity, and shoots. I leave the monster as he dies, with the same rush of nausea I usually feel. The giant version of Pope lies dead on the ground.