Chapter 6: Natasha

Unexpected Developments

Years ago I decided that I reject the dream that is reality. There are too many flaws, too much anecdotal information and too much uncertainty. So I'm only dully surprised when impossibility resurfaces in my life. By now I know it like an old friend. When the Trapper-Spider came up to the cockpit and told me that the second Lure had materialized on our plane, I felt only a vague pang of shock before switching autopilot on and going to investigate myself.

"What..." the Mute Musician seemed to be at a loss for words, "What does this even mean?"

"Most immediately, it means we are flying straight into an ambush," the Trapper-Spider said.

"So we were right then. Zoe is a traitor, the Trapper-Spider too, based on how helpful he was back at the airport. The note from Joshua was bull," the Mute Musician signed furiously.

"Not necessarily," the Wordsmith said.

"Not at all. In fact, this actually proves their innocence, or at least makes it more believable," the Trapper-Spider said, "Rousseau International wants us dead. If Zoe was a traitor, she could have killed us in Florence. She saw right through our ambush, the Trickster could easily kill even you, Natasha. That's not how things played out though. She doesn't want us dead, Renard doesn't either. However, they may have been bugged somehow. Potentially even before New York. That would explain why the First Lure activated by itself on the boat. It would also explain why Project Antithesis activated, how the Oktoberist knew we would be there."

"You're saying she's been bugged this entire time? Did they bug every outfit she had without her noticing?" the Wordsmith asked.

"A biobug could be possible," I said, "She was the Oktoberist's daughter. He could have embedded some sort of bugging device into her flesh, potentially at birth. We thought she was our ace in the hole, but in reality, she may have been spying on us the entire time. Inadvertently."

"Son of a bitch," the Wordsmith muttered.

"What about the Second Lure then?" the Mute Musician asked.

"Lucky happenstance for Rousseau International I believe," the Trapper-Spider replied. "Did you notice how Antithesis destroyed most every plane we tried to take, but not this one? She knew that the Lure was on here, and she was herding us on board. The Oktoberist knew we were heading to the Sahara Desert if we assume Zoe is bugged. He knew where we were going, so that means, since the Lure is here, and Antithesis led us to the Lure, that the Behemoth is probably asleep underneath the Sahara. All the right pieces fell into place for the Oktoberist, and he took advantage of the situation. He sent Antithesis to make sure we boarded this plane."

"If he's that clever, then surely he knew we'd find the Lure? Did he expect us to continue on, even knowing that we would risk awakening the second great beast?" I asked.

"Yes," the Trapper-Spider answered, "Because he knew we'd have to."


"Joshua. The Oktoberist knows where he is, and we know he is a major enemy of Rousseau International. They built the Labyrinth to imprison him, after all. If we don't show up, the Oktoberist is going to send one hell of a death squad to kill him. Hell, there is probably another Lure on its way, just in case we bail. The moment we do veer off course, you can be sure he'll shoot us straight out of the sky. The Lure has a tracker, there is probably an entire armada behind us right now. If we want to save Joshua, and avoid a fiery death over the Mediterranean, we have to keep moving forward."

"So we have no choice then, do we?"

"Absolutely none," the Trapper-Spider sighed. Leaving the rest of us in silence, he walked over to Katie and began speaking to her. She shied away at first, then solemnly nodded. Katie reached out and gently touched the Trapper-Spider's hand. There was a brief flicker, like a failing satellite image, then he was gone.

I asked Katie why she was so reluctant to use her talents once. She told me it was because she could feel them be torn apart, piece by piece, and reassembled at some other point. She said she could see it, too. She didn't like it.

None of us need to ask where the Trapper-Spider went, he was arming up. His decision had been made, or rather made for him, and now there was nothing left to do but fight. The Mute Musician went to mope in a corner, and the Wordsmith followed the Trapper-Spider. I returned to the cockpit, switched off the autopilot, and took over manual control.

The word obfuscation seems to apply to Matthias means of communication more often than it doesn't. His sentences and reasoning are confusing, and difficult to follow. It's as if he speaks his reasoning aloud, rather than coming to a conclusion then explaining it. No one speaks the way he does. Not unless they have something to hide. Words can be a more effective veil that invisibility when it comes to hiding evil truths. The devil often lurks in plain sight. Certainly there is a devil among us. Something more actively evil than a 'bug.' Though I must admit, I'm not sure this devil is something so plain and tangible.

Waking nightmares stalk me. Guilt manifest I suppose. Voices, disembodied save their silver, forked tongue plague me at night, and become ash in the daylight. I am sick, and what ails me is a living darkness. Each day is loathsome to me, each night a hell. I don't think I'll be able to sleep much longer, perhaps that is part of becoming a monster. Do monsters sleep? They can eat, this I know. Which explains my hunger, hunger for something that no meal can provide. I have a thirst no spirit will quench. Steam boils through my arteries.

And I want it all.

I want everything right now.

Is the end close?

I hope it all ends soon.

Though I've been told I won't like the final act.

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