Chapter 5: Nick
It was a red Christmas in Paris this year. Blood-stained snow. We've been in France for the past week almost. For the past week, we've been seeing a vision of a dying world. France fell quite a while ago, it was one of the first few, what with Rousseau International being based in Paris. Of course, no one knows Rousseau International is orchestrating this opera. That's probably the worse part, the fear of the unknown embodied. The army that is collapsing nations is a faceless, nameless entity. It's almost surreal.
We've been avoiding cities, and hugging the eastern border. Closest we've come to a city was about a half-mile. It was this small village out in the country. Men in black trench coats and motorcycle helmets patrolled the outskirts. It's Orwellian, almost. Matthias and Natasha are constantly on edge, and Smith... He hasn't said a word since we left England. Not to me, at least. Natasha has been giving him firearm training. It's heartbreaking, where there was the person named Jones before, now there is just a shell. He's empty. I think as far as he's concerned, he died that day with his daughter and wife.
Matthias has been giving me my own training, firearm and close-combat. Close-combat is a fancy term for knife fighting. The thing is, I don't know if, when the time comes, I'll be able to kill another person. I've been fighting this whole time as a pacifist, aiming to wound at the very worst, never kill. The forces we face now will not grant me that same mercy. My willingness to kill is essential to my own survival. It's as though we've been thrown back to the prehistoric era. Civilization stripped away, living in a dark, frightening world where our only means of survival is killing everything else.
We're heading to Italy. Italy hasn't fallen yet, there has been no movement to conquer them yet. Getting in will be difficult, we'll have to fight our way through. That means that the military will be looking for us the entire time we're in Italy. From there, the plan is to regroup with Daphne and Renard in Florence. Of course, we will be luring the two into a trap. Right now, Daphne seems to be the one who attempted to kill Matthias and Natasha by activating Project Antithesis. If she is the traitor, we'll take her out right then and there, if not, all of us will loop up through Italy into Switzerland. The Swiss/Italian border is much easier to break through than the French/Swiss border.
After Switzerland, after destroying Project H... I don't know what we're going to do. China is still fighting Rousseau International, they've managed to hold out, though their borders are shrinking. We might head there. Give them whatever information we can. If we ever make it out of Switzerland, that is. Project H is pivotal, Matthias says. Rousseau International's blitzkrieg is working now, but if Project H fails, they will have no endgame, they won't be able to hold out. They will collapse.
Something has been bothering me now, though. Something that Natasha and Matthias seem to be overlooking. The Leviathan, it's awakening. It's still alive, out there somewhere. We've been scanning the radio, listening to whatever we can. There is no music anymore, only death counts. Around the Philippines and the Indian Ocean there have been tsunamis. The coastal cities are being swept up and washed away, and entire islands swallowed up by the sea. No one seems to be able to explain it, but of course, we know why. Here's the thing though, if the Leviathan is awake, then soon, the Behemoth should awake as well. The second great beast, the beast of land. And after that, Ziz, the beast of air, will awake. Even if we destroy Project H, those three will tear the world apart.
The scale of the battle between those three would be physically impossible to see, unless you were orbiting Earth. Merely having them awaken would cause untold devastation. The Leviathan, who rested on the sea floor, could have split a continent had it awoken under land. The Behemoth and Ziz are likely much worse. Matthias says that Ziz is, without a doubt, underneath the North Pole. Behemoth, however, he is unsure of.
My entire life is a waking nightmare. There is just this underlying sense that none of it is real. I mean, obviously, you and I both know it isn't real, but this feeling is beyond that. It's as if under all that I see, under Midas' schemes, under the invasions, underneath the dying world, underneath Project H, there is something hidden. Under my skin, sleeping, some dark, world-shattering secret. Like the great beasts, waiting to be awakened.
I keep remembering these things, these places I'm sure I've never been. I keep seeing this dark room, I'm strapped to a chair with a light shining down on me. From the shadows there are voices, and I hear them muttering about me. I keep receiving injections of something. Something I'm deadly afraid of, and yet... I don't know what it is. Something black like night, something I won't remember, and it terrifies me.
More than that though, I have these memories of exotic places I've never been. Jungles, hotels, cities. Beautiful places. Then there are violent memories. Memories of the assassination of some scientist in Tokyo. Memories of a butchered murder of a woman in Spain. Her blood soaking into the bed, her face sliced into thousands of little pieces. Her broken arm dangling lifelessly, snapped clean in two. Her teeth spat out across the floor. Then there is the memories of the buildings, burning to the ground. The memories of the heaps of bodies in the warehouse that was gassed. The memories are just snapshots though, things I don't fully understand. Like looking through a draw full of Polaroids of another man's life. Out of order, in disarray.
Maybe I've stumbled on to some island of Lotus Eaters. Maybe none of this is real. Maybe that's while I feel as though I'm a living lie.