Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 10/24/17

When I heard about the island purchased by Vertier, I knew immediately what they had intended to use it for. The transaction itself wasn’t even public knowledge by any means, but I knew it was tied to their involvement with D-MISE. I never understood what attracted them to make such bad business decisions – did the strong allure of our leader or promise of power lead them astray? You know what they say about the hearts of men, how easily poisoned intentions can be. Even though the higher rungs of negotiations were behind tightly locked doors, I knew the honeyed words of our leader served as the fatally-tipped dart that sealed the deal.

The island was meant as a dumping ground for D-MISE’s experimental pets. Whether it was meant as a death sentence or a haven is still indiscernible, but either way, something had to be done. Prism City was waking up. There were too many disappearances. Too many tales. Too many stains. Some citizens still called for a reasonable explanation, but they were among the few who hadn’t seen them themselves. They hadn’t witnessed the darkened shadow in the alley that would rear up and swell until it was too late. They hadn’t witnessed things moving in the dark, jarring manhole covers and fire escapes in the night.

There’s only so much that people are willing to accept. Those trapped in the poverty that Prism City had manufactured screamed for something to save them, but their savior was now gone, and so was the Vertier leadership that would have done something about the monsters. What a world when the fate of the city lied not in the elected mayor or councilmen, but instead in the hands that held the technology and the position to deal with D-MISE. At least, until one was assassinated, and the other was given the janitorial duty of cleaning up the negligibly loosed monsters. After those debacles, D-MISE pulled away from the company entirely, and I don’t blame them. I never fully respected that choice to begin with, but it had its perks.

Now the island is off-limits, and the monsters have free reign of the city, with only a pampered businessman and a hell hound on the streets to face them. Prism City doesn’t stand a chance.

Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 10/18/17

I recognize that some of the arrogance I held was dangerous to my own well-being. It was comfortable, and being comfortable meant being vulnerable. I recognized my arrogance soon after I had been fully indoctrinated into D-MISE and when I realized how high in the ranks I had traveled in so short a time. Envy from my estranged peers set my heart glowing. Against the paleness of the usual citizens of Prism City, I felt enlightened. When I walked down the street, I watched the people pass by. Young students, professionals, struggling families – I watched through the lens of an android their daily lives, and I felt superior.

I don’t mean to say that it was right. It was just how it happened to be. I knew something they didn’t – something they could never know. I knew where Prism City was headed, and I knew what it would look like in After. Because I was superior, I would get to see it. That’s where my arrogance became dangerous – it made me think that I was destined for it, and I became comfortable. I stopped being on edge. I started to miss things. Assignments fell through the cracks, and missions went incomplete. I was lucky. Not every agent was given so much lenience.

It was after what happened to Laney traveled through the grapevine of lesser agents that I started to get back on track. I realized that everything I wanted – my newfound status and immeasurable wealth, could all evaporate in a moment of carelessness. I wouldn’t let that happen to me. I cared about my new life in a way I had never cared about my old one. I’m just sorry that Laney had to lose hers to see it.

Perhaps that was why I sought out Langston. I felt that my redemption laid in him, and I would follow him all over the city to achieve it. My new hopes were invested in him. If I could help him succeed, it might come back around to me. At least, that’s how it started. I never meant to interfere so much. That became dangerous as well, even if not for me.

Maybe I felt that he was a kindred spirit – thrust into something huge and insurmountable, but like me, he still felt that need to succeed in the eye of impossible odds. I still don’t know where he’s going to end up. Just because he and his demonic pet take down one horrific monster doesn’t mean that the next one won’t get him. Every day is a new day, and anything can happen. They’re not dealing with machines. They’re dealing with unpredictable predators, and any momentary slip can end a life.

I’ll be in the shadows, watching and waiting. If I interfere too much, it could be the end for me too. As much as I want to help more than I do, Langston is going to have to sink or swim with only the help of his own canine partner, as unhinged as that lab accident is.

Unhinged is perhaps too kind a description.

Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 10/11/17

Of all the destined eye sores in the city, that dreadful domed amusement park was the worst, in my opinion. I don’t know what they meant to accomplish, but it was a mess from the start. If Langston hadn’t been keen on using it as a controlled area to test out Star Dog’s autonomy in his own little playground, I doubt it would have secured any funding.

The biggest problem is that there was no direction. I watched as it began construction on a leveled area where a huge firm had just gone under. The demolition caused a perpetual dust cloud hanging on the horizon of the city. I watched as the equipment filed through the streets like a militia on that sweltering hot day. It was a rare day off for me, and I watched from the outdoor cafe of a tiny bistro off Main Street. It had been packed inside, and I just wanted a lemonade, so I settled for one of the few metal chairs that had been in the shade and thus not super-heated by the relentless sun that reflected off every ivory glassed surface. (A part of me wondered if the original constructors of Prism City had once conspired to bake their citizens with their layout and choice materials.)

As I watched the dust cloud rise as the building collapsed under the control of mega machinery, everyone else joined in, turning from their newspapers, tablets and other devices, to shield their eyes as they watched the onslaught of our atmosphere. I mused, looking at it, wondering if that was how the dinosaurs had felt.

I don’t know who was in charge of designing the amusement park, but I have to say I understand why it was never given a formal name. It was never truly opened to the full public, getting only so far as invited guests before it became derelict and forgotten. It was a mashup of eras ranging from medieval to Victorian England, from the buildings to the shops, and even to the actors who had to dress and talk the part. Bless them and their bottomless patience. Apparently, they didn’t have much choice. Last I saw, many had taken up residence there. I imagined many of them had lived in housing complexes that were zoned for the new luxury apartments, and that was the beginning of the end.

I stopped going over there. The laughingstock had been eclipsed by the poverty and desperation, and I felt sorry for everyone who called it home. I wished I could have helped. I wish I could have introduced them to the doctrine that D-MISE carries, and give them a new lease on life like I had been given, but After was getting closer, and the Ark was getting fuller.

I couldn’t risk it, so I looked away.

Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 10/4/17

Not every confession has to be mine, does it? I can offer you someone else’s confessions, right? Prism City has a lot of candidates with juicy confessions. Sins pave the pristine streets, and the banners of debauchery wave in the broken ghettos. Most of all, those who live in the ivory towers, otherwise known as those who helm the corporate ships that war across the urban lands – those CEOs have plenty of skeletons to line their closets. Some keep them hidden better than others.

The hologram technology that quickly inundated our city, from waiters to bank tellers to entertainment, didn’t happen by accident or overnight. It didn’t even happen for many of the professions it came to utilize. It had a darker, deeper ulterior motive that spread like wildfire until it was all-consuming, and the corporate titans were in charge of that catalyst. They say that technology doubles every two years, but the technology that produced viable, almost invisible holograms in everyday life was more than a leap. It crossed a chasm of our societal development.

People like Langston Romaijn and Deirdre Bader, people who were the visible one percent of the city that warred over its fate from behind a desk in a boardroom, they were the reason that the hologram technology was expedited and given the funds needed to make that leap. This was before the Star Dog technology became center stage, but those who knew how to move their pawns across the urban board knew the steps needed to take the queen. Then it was only a matter of time until they reached the king. One of the pawns was the hologram technology.

They knew it had to be good. They knew the holograms had to be imperceptible, especially to those who were trained to be fooled by it. There wasn’t room for any mistakes, and they had limited time to perfect it in. It was just a side effect that the entire city would adopt holograms into their routines and lives. Its first purpose had a long calculated history tied up in the corporate giants that ruled Prism City. Its devastating denouement wasn’t obvious until after the Star Dog technology went into motion, at least to me. I watched from afar as they built the house that would act like a puppet show. I saw the machinery brought in and hard-wired into the very walls to make it as elaborate and fulfilling as they could.

I might have been fooled, if I didn’t know any better. He had just left behind the veil of a computer-induced fog and leapt into his own being, and I may never know what that’s like. The closest I can relate is the prior version of myself that was unenlightened to D-MISE’s main plan. I don’t know how I would have reacted, had I been on that side of things. I feel a little remorse, but I knew it was necessary. It made him stronger. Early on, I thought his strength would be instrumental in propelling us to After, but fate intervened – the one he chose – and the cards played out differently. We were left alone in Prism City, and I still don’t blame him.

Not one single iota.

Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 9/27/17

I’ve only been a D-MISE agent for less than two years, but I learned a lot in that amount of time. The personal growth is exponential when your life is on the line. I’ve done some amazing things with amazing technology, but I’ve also seen the darkest depths of the city, and I don’t mean a physical place. I’m referring to the place in the hearts of mankind, and what they’re willing to do to their peers. I’m going to share much of that with you, even with the bleak hope I have now of it reaching somebody.

One thing I can say about myself with any level of certainty is that I spent a majority of my life from childhood and adolescence to just before my prison sentence without any discernible direction. I had vague ideas of maybe one day leaving the city I had grown up in, but I didn’t know the true meaning of work or discipline. I do now, thanks to D-MISE. I imagine many of us were like that, especially youth that grew up on the cusp of the Post-Modern Era. It was a new time for our world, and it struck at the heart of the city. Just like it will again soon. As an agent in higher-than-normal standing, which I can only ascertain with the conferment of my android counterpart, I’m well on the way to After.

But I can’t start slacking now. If those that control the direction of the organization have proven anything, it’s that no one is guaranteed a ticket to the Ark. One thing that I did have aptitude in was math, and not the kind that dealt strictly with numbers. My math is a kind of logic. For example, if my brother was going to beat me home on our bikes, then he would have first dibs on the snacks on the way in, and I would only have access to the crumbs. I “did the math”, as it was called. I did the same with my situation now. Even D-MISE has limited resources, somewhere up the line. What percentage of Prism City could be expected to survive? Fifty? Twenty-five? Ten? Even ten percent was still a lot of people, and it was going to get crowded.

From my peeks behind the curtain, I have a rough idea how many people had been absorbed into D-MISE’s population, and I can tell you right now that there’s not enough room for all us. Only some other agents have suspicions regarding that revelation, and that’s why competition keeps getting elevated. We’re pushing each other just as much as ourselves, and we are seething at the confines of our infrastructure. The people are boiling, and something within D-MISE is about to crack. I’ll be the first one through it, reaching for After, as our only salvation.

That’s why I’m only “partially-reformed”. I’m willing to concede that we’ve done terrible things. I’ve done terrible things, all on my own as well as a part of D-MISE. But I’m still going to After. I worked too hard and sacrificed too much to get there. I still believe in the vision, and I believe in my own aptitude to achieve it.

Maybe I’ll see you on the other side.

It’s more likely that I won’t.

Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 9/20/17

I wasn’t much before I became a D-MISE agent. Perhaps that was the point. As agents, our lives are built on a foundation of unknown factors that manipulated our reality every day. We had to be flexible, and trusting. I was neither of those things – at least not to start. I would be biased to say I’ve adapted.

I don’t know if this is divine intuition, or utter paranoia at this point, but I wouldn’t put it past the upper rungs of the hierarchy to have had something to do with my wrongly convicted status, and my subsequent “sentence” that led me into the grips of D-MISE. I was a nobody that wouldn’t be missed, and I have a feeling that a bulk of their population was made up of people just like me in that regard. That requirement could lead to a steady stream of new agents.

Some turned out to be good agents. Some were terminated to minimize their liability. I’m surprised I made it this far, but whatever I’m doing, despite the snark and backtalk, someone must like it. I’ve gotten too lucky too many times to not have a friend in the shadows, and I quietly thank them.

Some of you might think that odd, that I could suspect something of that magnitude, and not search out who it is. Especially how lonely the life of an agent is – how isolated, and how desolate. If my experiences had been different, I might have reacted differently to the realization, and not with serenity and grace.

I would have been driven to find out all the little secrets that worked like glue in our infrastructure. It would have driven me mad to not know who my ethereal champion was – if I hadn’t just done the exact same thing. Now I can appreciate the distance.

I didn’t particularly know much about Prism City’s Justice Department before my incarceration – I hadn’t needed to do so. From my own experience, I would say it’s a mess. Perhaps that’s why my case had been so flimsily supported, and poorly notated. Maybe it was all set up at that point, and my court-appointed lawyers were just screaming into the void for all the good my defense did. I remember the powerless feeling I had in the defendant’s chair, a feeling I no longer contend with, for I am enlightened among the rabble in the city now. It’s nice to be nostalgic though.

I also remember when the judge told me my date for surrendering, and I would have only forty-eight hours to tell my loved ones goodbye. I remember the hollow feeling that echoed inside me at the realization that I had no one to tell. I could surrender that afternoon and no one would miss me.

If only it had been a week earlier.

Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 9/13/17

I don’t know what drew me to Langston in the beginning. Perhaps it was my morbid curiosity, or perhaps it was the charm he claimed to have. He did so well in the arms of D-MISE when he was first captured. Even in chains, his spirit didn’t break. I watched from a secure place. Even if I were able to do anything about it, I don’t think I would have. I never claimed to be a saint. I couldn’t hear what they were asking him, but question after question, I could tell by the crawl of his smirk that it wasn’t going well for them.

Maybe they were asking him about Star Dog, or maybe D-MISE didn’t even care about Star Dog at this point. I soon found out that they had their own project in the works, and Langston was soon the captain of it, unwittingly. Many of us grinned at the irony of his new task – once a CEO, he was now the janitor for D-MISE, cleaning up the mess that littered the streets. Except this mess was dangerous. This mess had teeth, and claws, and in some cases, wings. This mess wouldn’t go down easily.

I suppose that’s in the best interest for Langston now that he was given the anonymous donation by D-MISE. Well, perhaps if he remained in the dark about his new partner’s origins. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would have assumed it was still just a part of the mythos created by D-MISE agents who longed for more excitement. I wouldn’t have willfully believed that D-MISE was capable of what they had accomplished, and I say that in spite of everything they did.

There is a dark tale that resides in the heart of D-MISE, and that is of our intention to recreate the Star Dog formula. We succeeded, but it came at a price. Everyone’s twist is different, when it comes to how things went wrong. Some would say that contaminants got into the tank, and poisoned the pup, which amounted to all of its peculiarities. Another will say that the pup was born from a rotten embryo that was left out too long, and that’s one of the reasons it had the perpetual crazy look in its eye. The rumor that the pup was a hybrid fostered more unrest between the agents, and heightened the fear that pervaded the lower rungs of the organization. Others contend that the temperature in the tank was off, and all of its brain cells were fried during incubation. Or maybe it was that the tank had cracked under seismic pressure, and an emergency team had to save the developing pup from a premature hatch.

I do know this, however. That pup made it to maturation, and Langston has no idea what he’s dealing with. I’ve seen that pup grow, and it never lost that crazy look, or that unstable personality. It was reckless, and cruel, and proud of it. Now, its Langston’s new partner in trying to sweep up every monster that D-MISE has ever lost, and that is a longer list than the citizens of Prism City will ever know.

Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 8/30/17

My first mission was brutal. I was thrown behind the controls of an android in a dark, cramped room that I wasn’t even sure where it was. I was blindfolded through most of it, and too dazed to pay attention to much else. I wasn’t given any instructions besides those I could gather from my surroundings, and the controls weren’t exactly intuitive.

Although the room was sparsely decorated, hardly bigger than a closet, one wall held a monitor and had a semi-circle input panel underneath, gently curving around me. I couldn’t believe how thin it was, and transparent, almost as if it weren’t really there. Buttons and keys were highlighted in the darkness, and I gently tested them. The monitor was in a first person view, and I watched as a real-looking hand waved in front of me on the screen as I waved my own over the panel. It was tracking my movement, and translating it somewhere far-off.

I put both hands up and I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. The monitor projected a hologram that zoomed forward onto my face like a mask, and I felt a tug of nausea, feeling like I was flung forward into a body that wasn’t my own. Now I couldn’t see the panel at all, but I could still move and see the movement appear in front of me. I was seeing exactly as the android was seeing, and I couldn’t tell you how. I moved forward with a combination of leaning and leg movements. It felt stiff and awkward, but I was able to build up a rhythm. There didn’t seem to be other people around.

I was behind a building, in an alleyway, and I walked myself out onto the street. I turned and walked some more, some people passing me by with strange looks, but many others didn’t. I couldn’t tell if they were androids too, or if they were real people. I passed by my new reflection in the glass in the front of the building, and I didn’t recognize that it was me, although I was looking right at me. I moved on, my curiosity building, as well as my nausea. It was a different world, and I was a different, well-dressed, fairly attractive person. Not that I’m usually considered otherwise, but I felt both anonymous and more alive than I had been before I was put on death row.

Within a few more steps, I found out I was in the New Prism City Museum of Art and Science, and I went inside. While in there, I figured out what my mission was, and I completed it to the best of my ability. At the end, I found myself on the precipice of a window ledge, staring down the infamous Star Dog for the first time. Which move would complete my objective? I jumped. As soon as I did, I vomited all over the panel back in that cramped room, and the hologram faded back onto the monitor, which was now grainy static.

I didn’t know it then, but I had done very well.

Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 8/23/17

Another thing that may have nurtured my motivation to give my life over to D-MISE aside from the big picture may have been the morbid curiosity. The Star Dog technology had broken through a veil in our world and opened our eyes to new possibilities, and many others were taking that to heart. D-MISE was among them. I was curious about their experiments that sought to replicate the unique Star Dog formula. I had seen monsters evolve from a Petri dish. I saw where they hold them. I saw when the first one got away. I saw all of this not because I was told where to go, nor was it a part of my missions, but because I needed to satiate my own curiosity as much as I needed to breathe, and I figured it out for myself.

I’m used to the dance. I’m used to changing partners. I’m used to the music changing, and change it does. Soon, we’ll all have the power to change.

Creatures made from hybrid myths were hidden throughout the city, assigned to various caretakers. Human arrogance prevailed again, and more and more of the creatures are finding themselves loose. Some were from negligence. Others were simply underestimated. Whatever the case, Prism City is becoming even more unsafe for those that deign to walk the streets. If you’re of the many that have housing that corporations hand out like rewards to their vassals, I’m sure you’ll be safe. I’m sure you’ll never have reason to believe that these monsters exist. I’m sure your family won’t be torn asunder by nature overtaking the city.

As for everyone else, they’ve lost their skepticism to desperation. They know the monsters exist. They’ve heard the roars in the sewer, and saw something gliding past the moon just beyond Prism Tower. I’ve been taking notes. I know almost every monster as they were my beloved pet. I named them, although that’s only something you and I will ever know. Everyone else has their own names for them, and I know about those too. Their caretakers knew them by their identification numbers, although most of those are just arbitrary silver plaques on broken, empty cages.

I saw the program too, the one that used to be Star Dog’s. With a few clicks and button presses, a line of code could be inserted or removed, and his entire personality would change on a whim. His memories were uploaded, and his genome was edited like a word document. They could have made him purple with pink polka-dots if they wanted, but instead they chose that star on his hip. D-MISE started using that program, but I can’t tell you yet how they got it. You can probably guess, but they’ve been using it to alter the genes of their sideshow projects. They didn’t find what they were looking for, but they did find a lot of other things.

For instance, they found out that reptilian DNA doesn’t play well with mammalian DNA, but that didn’t deter them very much.

Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 8/16/17

Even as a D-MISE agent, inside an organization built on secrets, there are many things that I am not supposed to know that I do. I know who our faceless leader is. I know why he founded D-MISE, and I know that I can get away with publishing these secrets because I won’t be around long enough to face the consequences, as far-reaching as they will be. I pity those that stand between us. I pity myself because the fruits of my labor could very well wither before I get to taste them in After. I never directly met our leader, but I’ve always considered him a mentor.

I haven’t been a perfect D-MISE agent. There were times when I went outside the protocol. There were times when I made hard choices that didn’t directly benefit the big picture. There were times when I was misguided, and there were times when I was oblivious. Whatever I was, however, I was good at covering my tracks. The decentralization worked in my favor, and perhaps our meticulous leader’s all-seeing eye had a blind spot that I exploited. Maybe he knew and kept me around for other reasons.

I can’t explain why I stepped outside my role on several occasions and interfered where I probably shouldn’t have. Perhaps I was feeling nostalgic for a life I could no longer lead. Perhaps I had gotten comfortable getting away with things that other agents would be fried for (that wasn’t a typo for “fired”). Maybe I just liked the guy, and I couldn’t stand back and watch him keep messing up and stumbling through mission after mission. Maybe I felt guilty that he was cursed with our lab experiment gone wrong, a very unpleasant and sadistic creature. Maybe getting involved stroked my ego and gave me gratification that working the shadows usually doesn’t. Maybe I just missed the sound of a human voice.

In my time as an agent, I became very attuned to riddles and clues, and I became good at giving indirect answers, no matter how much it frustrated him. I even enjoyed it on a mischievous level. Very few of us are granted anything close to resembling partners when we work for D-MISE, so for a stretch, he was my only company, even though we could only talk through shadows. I had to be careful that he didn’t rely on me too much, but that came to pain me as much as it did him. I needed to know that he could stand on his own two feet, and carry his weight for the big picture. I might not always be there to point him in the right direction, and I guess I needed to assuage my guilt. After a time, I began to feel a strange tingle of pride when he did well.

All the secrets that I kept for D-MISE, I struggled the most with keeping my own. I’m the one that helped Langston Romaijn, and I would do it again.