Stains of the Past

October 30, 2013

It is my hope that I shall never speak of the happenings of this day again.

It is perhaps unwise to even write of them, but I feel I must. I must do something to straighten this awful mess out in mind.

It started with a message for Fiora; apparently “someone” had been digging for information on Kosciej and someone with the last name ‘Niles’ with various intelligence agencies, which alerted one of Fiora’s colleagues, who then passed that tidbit on to Fiora. Fiora proved admirably efficient in tracking the queries back to the source…

So we found ourselves in Australia, in a shabby-looking neighborhood in front of a shabby-looking building that, as it happened, was every bit as desolate and deserted as it looked… the latter is something for which I remain thankful.

Marisa knew something about it—a great deal about it, as it would happen. Apparently this place was registered to a company by the name of ‘Hourglass Biotech and Supplies’; the company was—or had been—a Kotomine holding by the name of ‘Hourglass Sciences’. Marisa had believed it shut down over a decade ago, but apparently it had reformed with outside backing to continue its research…

Fiora’s initial search of the facility’s security systems revealed no staff present, although she was unable to access the facility’s main computer—she said something about it being ‘airgapped’, whatever that means. She did, however, find a laboratory eight floors beneath the ground where a great many cats—all of them bearing a resemblance to Kosciej—had apparently been dissected. Fiora made some wry comment about wagering that she was a clone, seemingly completely unfazed. Ha ha. Ha. I would not have been so calm as she appeared.

As we descended—via elevator, against my better judgement—Marisa divulged some of what she knew of Hourglass. Apparently their initial objective was to “find magi who can [see through time], and predict who would be able to.” To this end, they arranged to acquire a specialty geneticist—a Nazi war criminal, of all things.

The more I learned, the sicker I felt; how could I not? Marisa delivered the words in a calm, level voice, but admitting this in front of all of us—in front of me, the heiress to another House, even if our Houses are allied… I can imagine how mortified I would feel in that situation. I wanted nothing more than to turn and flee, and perhaps to burn that awful place to the ground behind me. Quinn, I think, would have gone gladly, and even Miyako seemed to be content with the thought of collapsing the elevator shaft and leaving…

Fiora insisted, though. I suppose I cannot blame her—this place touched on her past, after all, and someone had been making inquiries about her from within it. Marisa felt obligated to help her, as much as she loathed the place, and Alyssa, for her part, kept digging through files, looking for some new tidbit about this ‘interesting history’.

I wanted to claw her eyes out. I wanted to throw up. Could she not see? Did she not care?

I did neither.

Kosciej opted to speak up as Alyssa and Fiora dug through the now-abandoned offices—it seems that Kosciej is telepathic, among other things, though I have no idea why he hasn’t spoken before now; perhaps he felt he had nothing that needed to be said.

In any case, the only things we found of any potential relevance whatsoever in the offices were some old documents detailing the Kotomine family tree, and some recent purchase orders from a corporation called “The Merry Widow”; apparently they own some taverns and some pet stores. A front, in other words, though for what or whom I cannot say with any degree of certainty… yet.

The laboratory was… more gruesome. Kosciej and Marisa both opted to stay outside, as did Quinn… frankly, I rather strongly wanted to as well, but the atmosphere in the corridor was so awkward that even a room full of recently dead cats seemed like a better alternative.

Ugh. I didn’t want to look at anyone or anything in that room, but I learned a bit regardless; some of the scrawlings on the clipboards were a list of subjects—all referred to by ‘Subject’ followed by a series of three letters—along with the names of various medications and a pair of checkboxes for whether or not the subject had a ‘feline familiar’ or not. The implications… were not lost on me. Some of the medication names on the clipboards were familiar—the names of the medications Marisa takes popped up with some regularity on that list. The rest of the clipboards made little sense to me—it seems they were concerned with something about memory, though I wasn’t sure exactly what. Later investigation would shed a bit more light on this, but I still don’t know what the goal behind it all was… and I’m not sure I want to know.

In any case, Fiora finished with that room fairly quickly; she turned all the dead cats to dust as she left, somehow, which… was a good start. Our next stop was the mainframe room, which was rather less gruesome, although it was clear that something had happened here; according to Fiora, one of Kosciej’s brothers ‘hulked out’ and gone on a rampage. Good for him.

I browsed what was left of the room’s files while Marisa and Fiora worked on the mainframe, trying to gain full access. There was a little information of interest—of particular interest, a number of addresses appeared with disturbing regularity. I can only speculate, as yet, on who they might belong to… but that is something I plan to look into, soon.

Surprisingly, Marisa was the one to unlock the mainframe—apparently she knew a password to get in. Truthfully, I’m surprised that she had access to that kind of information, heiress or not; I don’t think it was a premonition, so it was almost certainly something she knew well. Perhaps House Kotomine’s circumstances necessitate giving her full access to the house’s affairs, even though she is not the head of the House? Hm.

What we found there shed a bit more light on the research that had been conducted; I had known it concerned memory, and the clipboards implied—among other things—that familiars were also a part of the experiments. But the mainframe reports revealed something new—that Kosciej’s particular breed has the ability to eat memories.

Kosciej protests that he hasn’t snacked on anyone’s memories. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, at least.

Fiora found what she needed and dusted the mainframe, and then we made our exit; Marisa melted most of the basement behind us, I think.

I wanted very badly to move onward and never speak of this again… but Miyako seemed to feel that the proper course involved ‘ruining everyone responsible for this’.

I don’t think she understood the implications of what she was saying. Light, though, how could she not? Hourglass was started by House Kotomine, and on top of that, its early research is something that Marisa relies on to keep her sane from day to day—admittedly Miyako was likely unaware of the second, but the first was something plain as day. I don’t think she meant to hurt Marisa, but it seemed fairly obvious—to me, at least—that Marisa would almost certainly place her own family high on any list of those deserving retribution…

Maybe rightly so, at that. I don’t know a lot of the details of what went on in that laboratory, either when it was under Kotomine administration or afterwards, but between what I saw—those family trees, those clipboards—and what I heard, including what Kosciej said and Marisa’s own comments… let us say that I have suspicions. Cats may have been the only bodies we found, but I do not think that they were the only corpses Hourglass produced…

Little wonder that Marisa would feel guilt—self-loathing, even—given that she has gained no small benefit from Hourglass’s research. I think she’s indulging in it a bit too much, though—there is little she could have done to stop Hourglass, future-seer or not. After all, she is but the heir to House Kotomine, not its head, and she had likely not even been born when Hourglass was founded…

Miyako took her leave for a time—she said something to the effect of breaking the legs of someone deserving, which, after all of this, is a sentiment I can understand, even if it’s rather… Miyako. I haven’t inquired further on that.

Fiora took the rest of us around Sydney, keeping one eye on Miyako through her phonecamera. Despite Sydney being delightful, though, the atmosphere remains heavy even now with things unsaid and dark thoughts, though I’m trying to act like my usual self. Or perhaps the atmosphere is normal, and this oppressive, brooding pall is just my own feeling…

Ugh. I will admit that today’s investigation may have been necessary—Fiora, at the very least, was justified in coming to this place to learn its secrets, given that Hourglass was tangled with her family and her familiar, and leaving shadowy groups with probable ill intent to muck about freely is never a good idea. But though I will make clandestine inquiries into Hourglass’s new masters based on the addresses I found in the paper files, I think I would almost rather that every lead on this wretched mess lead to a dead end; that Hourglass drop off the face of the earth and this wretched, mouldering corpse lie still and silent in its grave, that we never have to deal with this again.

Some things, some secrets, are best left unspoken. This I have long known to be truth.


Mana of Mayhem Dry