RAVENWARE

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RE: OPERATION THAUMATURGY

A couple weeks later I had to return to the estate on a U.N. fact finding mission. On the way there, one of the analysts told me that the building had originally been owned by an American funk band called 60-FINE that specialized in recording scores for Italian crime movies. After the band broke up, its drummer kept the keys to the castle and turned it into a node in the international cocaine trade. After he got busted, it ended up a largely forgotten piece of property managed by the C.I.A., which was how the Shaved Man (who was apparently a private contractor, not technically a member of the agency) and his rogue faction managed to find their off-the-grid safehouse.

You could tell the exact spot where Lydia had made her last stand. Scars in the earth from shells and bullets stopped right at the border of a circle she had carved in the dirt and marked with every rune and symbol I had ever seen her draw.

“Care to explain to us what happened here?” a Japanese analyst asked me through a translator.

I said I had no idea.

Now I’m back in Suitland. I quit the army. Honorable discharge. I still live at home, but I’m making some changes. I’m back in school for one thing, for creative writing. (That’s why I’m finally putting this all down on paper.)

It’s just community college, but I’m working really hard. And it doesn’t feel like it’s sucking me dry. I only feel the pressure that I want to subject myself too, if that makes sense. No more lung-crushing, deep space feeling. Just long, hard study sessions sitting in the campus coffee shop, where I also work. Aniyah Jackson works here now too. Someone in the government decided to make good on the Shaved Man’s promise. She was free (and purged from the gang database) within weeks.

I know that all sounds boring, but it’s by design. My current life-goal is to make sure nothing interesting ever happens to me again. Being a 24 year old woman with an eye-patch is the only conversation starter I’ll ever need, really.

The night I write this conclusion, I’m sitting in the coffee shop. I just closed up and it’s raining outside. Soft, fat rain. But it’s nice and warm in here, and I like being in the shop alone to write.

Anyway.

This afternoon I drove out to Lydia’s old apartment building. I went to see the tree. And against my better judgement I cut a little pinprick into my thumb and pressed its surface.

I won’t tell you what I saw or felt. But I will say, in the interest of keeping things boring, that I will never check again.

ATTN: ******

-THANKS A BUNCH FOR SENDING THIS OVER. I AGREE THAT PARTS OF THE STORY ARE HIGHLY IMPLAUSIBLE, BUT THE PROJECT LOOKS INTERESTING. ONE OF OUR COLLEAGUES FROM ****** HAS EXPRESSED AN INTEREST IN GIVING IT ANOTHER GO/SAYS HE HAS AN INTERESTING SITE WE COULD LOOK AT IN ********.

LET’S HAVE LUNCH TOMORROW AND CHAT.

**** ******

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