November 10th, 2019
Amin’s dead. They’re barely even hiding it from me.
Though, after today, I would have known no matter what they did. I thought that they might have the decency to sit me down—let me know there was an “accident”—but it was business as usual in the Zodiac Office. Baum and Fennsler were just sitting there as I read the next section and tried to busy myself. Problem is, it’s hard to concentrate when you know your boss just snuffed out the life of your coworker.
I found out where it happened, by the way. I knew it was stupid of me to try and investigate like I inevitably did, but I needed to know. Trying to be a little sneaky, I walked to Amin’s room in the dormitory and found that there was yellow tape conveniently stopping me from going around the nearest corner and seeing what had happened. Part of me knew what I was going to see—that I shouldn’t even risk getting caught by surveillance—but I ducked underneath the yellow tape and rounded the bend.
It was exactly how I thought it would be. Tiling had been torn up from the ground, the siding of the hallway had been ripped apart, there was exposed wiring and pipes they hadn’t fixed yet; I think the most they did was shut off the power and water to the area so it wouldn’t be a safety hazard.
That was where Amin died. Alone and scared as Samir showed his true colors.
I thought about going to his room and seeing if there was any secret message left for me, but I realized that was even more stupid than ducking under the yellow tape. There’s no way in Hell I would have been able to get away with that, but even then I was tempted. The only real reason I didn’t investigate further was that I heard some voices and then footsteps from the other end of the hallway, and I ran as fast and as quietly as I could.
I don’t think they heard me—I never really did—but that didn’t stop me from feeling the paranoia chomping at my brainstem as I sat there in the Zodiac Office that day. My mind was absolutely not on work the entire time I was down there, and I barely learned anything after six hours. Yeah, sure, I know that the next bit was a parable referencing the Pied Piper and how it supposedly hinted at the French Revolution, but I didn’t find any of those clues I was supposed to. You know, the ones where it’s the wrong word and it clues me into everything not being what it seems.
So, well, pretty much a waste of time. Half of the shift I was just sitting back and pulling at my hair as I read and reread the same three sentences. Not even the raw text, the fucking translations. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t progress, and the only saving grace is that Baum and Fennsler didn’t know. Apparently I just look that stressed-out all the time, now.
They let me go, eventually. I made an excuse that I was still shaken up after the last couple days with Amin leaving. Followed that up with a healthy amount of trembling and stating that the pressure was starting to get to me. Baum gave me a peculiar look—I think he knew I was making it up—but after my little panic episode yesterday he was pretty much forced to keep his mouth shut. He just nodded and looked back at his screen. Fennsler looked like he was going to say something, even looked up from his juicy story about reality TV stars, but I honestly think he decided that he didn’t care enough.
So I left early, but I didn’t have much to do but focus on my own thoughts. I didn’t even pay attention to my surroundings as I made my way back to my room. For a few minutes, I tried to think out a scenario where I went up to the ground floor and actually got some fresh air, but I realized I didn’t want it. I just wanted to be alone; absorb what had happened over the last few days. Just wanted to get used to the fact that Amin wasn’t around anymore. It’s one thing to prophesy someone’s death, but it’s another to know it actually happened. Amin was the only guy here that, well, wasn’t part of the big secret. I could talk to the guy and think that he didn’t have a reason to hurt me. I didn’t have to be scared or nervous around him.
I mean, he was tiny, so I shouldn’t have felt nervous anyway, but you know what I mean.
That’s kinda what drove me to look at the Raindrop, that flash drive he gave me way back at the start of this thing. Well, the start of our secret society shit, at least. Maybe it was a nostalgia thing, maybe I just didn’t want to feel so alone, but I plugged it into my laptop and tried to access the server he had talked about. I’d never needed it, so it was the first time I even looked at what was waiting for me.
I should have looked so much sooner.
Amin… the poor guy was trying to talk to me this whole time. When I finally accessed his folder, I found dozens of videos and logs that were meant just for me, just so I could read them and know what he found.
Or, I dunno, the bits I’ve looked through haven’t given me a solid impression if he had wanted me to listen the entire time or if this was a kind of dead man’s switch, but there’s no doubt that he had left all of this information for me. Half of the articles and briefings weren’t addressed to anyone, but most of the videos had him speaking to me by name.
He may have been speaking to me this entire time—could have been pleading for help this entire time—and I could have saved him. Or, well, probably not. If we’re up against demons I’m not sure I could have helped, but that doesn’t stop the guilt from sticking to my skin; doesn’t do a damn thing to stop me from feeling like a terrible person who should have been paying attention to the only ally I had in this forsaken place.
I know that now. Amin was the only friend I had here. I squandered that friendship and let him die, but I’m determined to make sure that it wasn’t in vain. After seeing a few dozen of the videos, I’m sure of that. Hell, I was sure of that by the time the first one was half-finished. Well, I say first one, but it was just the last one on the pile.
Amin had recorded one last video before Samir came for him.
It started out like all the others did, though I guess I didn’t know that at first. I just saw Amin’s face close to the camera and then he leaned back and settled into his computer chair. He hesitated for a moment and let out a breath of resignation, swaying back and forth in the seat, but once he closed his eyes and breathed back in, I knew that the desperation and insanity I had last seen from him had all been an act.
“Hey, Ray. This will be the last one, I think. For a while I thought that you may have caught the hint and logged into the server at some point, but I’m pretty sure you have no clue that all this information is waiting for you,” he said before looking to his left and staring at… something. Probably nothing that mattered; it seemed like he was still composing this last speech.
“But here’s to hoping you eventually figure it out, dude. It’d be a shame if I left all this for you and you fall into the trap anyway,” Amin added before looking back into the camera. “I’m not going to be around after today. After that freakout I had in the office, I’m pretty sure Samir has it out for me. Well, okay, maybe not out for me,” he stressed before leaning forward and resting his forearms on his desk, “but he knows he has to get rid of me. I don’t think it’s because of my connections, I think it’s just because they know I’m not a seer.”
“I never was, Ray. I’ve said that before in some of the other videos, but if you watch any of these, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be this one,” Amin admitted, breathing out in defeat. “I’ve been a plant this entire time, hoping that I could find out more about this Order, how Catalytics is funding them or how they’re related. Pretty juice stuff, this corporate espionage, but now I’m stuck and there’s no hope for extraction.”
“You… sorry, dude,” Amin added, this time looking at the ceiling, and I could tell that he was fighting back tears. When he looked back at the camera, he had just slightly failed. I could see them pooling at the bottom of his eyelids, but that didn’t stop him from making this last testament. “When they get rid of me, you’re not going to have any friends left.”
“Who we’re working for—or, you know, who you’re working for—they don’t have your best interest at heart. Hell, if they could get away with it, I’m pretty sure they’d torture you just to get all of those secrets out of your head. For sure they’re going to drug you, but that’s light punishment from what I can tell. Still not sure how you’re able to read that stuff, but it’s pretty fucking obvious that I can’t, and I bet that’s enough for Samir to sign my death sentence.”
“Samir’s not the gentle giant you think he is, by the way. That personality of his is just to get you off-guard, make you think that he’s on your side,” Amin continued before pointing at the camera, his voice stern. “He’s not. That man has been central to so much mayhem and general destruction that I’m not sure he’s even human. Goddamn mutant or something…”
“But that’s not the important part, Ray. The important part is that once I’m gone, you’re gonna have to get by on your own,” Amin added with a frown. “They’re gonna try to get to you from a lot of angles, but above all you cannot, you cannot,” he stressed, pointing at the screen again, “tell them what they want to know. Those last few prophecies are the only thing stopping them from achieving what they want.”
“What do they want, you ask?” he said, leaning back in this chair and pursing his lips before speaking. “Not sure. Didn’t have enough time to figure it out. What I do know is that the Order is not afraid of killing people, doesn’t mind manipulating world events so things end up in their favor. They are willing to destroy nations, kill entire ethnicities just so that they can get what they want,” he said, and I realized some of the more obvious implications of that.
“They’re evil, Ray, whatever they are. That’s why the House of Orphans sent me here. That’s why they had me tail you, learn about you, read every single post you ever put on the blog and even your Facebook and moldy tumblr account. You were my assignment before I could even get into this damned basement, mostly just so I could get into this damned basement,” Amin explained, resting his chin on his palm. “Sorry about that, by the way. From here, I’m sure it looks like an invasion of privacy, but it was just to get you to trust me when I came forward as Ravenseer.”
“Oh, and, well, let’s just forget about the hole Amin thing,” he added, taking away his hand and settling both his arms on his desk again. “Name’s Victor, if you believe it. Amin was created specifically for this job, specifically so that Baum and Fennsler and Almasi and Slagen would think I’m the other seer. Räum was already taken by you, so I had to go for Amon.”
“Though that ruse is up. Tried to keep it going as long as I could, but I’m sure you’ve noticed how I just stare at the screen these days. As soon as the translation programs didn’t work, I… was just stalling for time. Luckily I was able to upload a lot of the data to the server, but I’d never be able to read it like you can. Not destined like that,” he commented, breathing in deep and scratching behind his ear. When he pulled away his finger, I could see blood under the nail. “My destiny is a bit different and looks a lot like Samir goddamn Almasi. Made a special package just in case, so don’t you worry. He takes me out, he’s gonna have a big surprise.”
“Well,” Amin said with a heavy sigh, staring straight into the camera. “Guess this is it. If you do miraculously log into the server and watch this video, make sure you check out the other ones. It’ll detail everything about the House that you need to know, will give you some of the grisly details about Catalytics and the Order that you definitely need to know. That’s about all I can do now. I just hope that my hints and clues during my supposed breakdown are enough that you found all this stuff.”
“God, I really hope so. See you on the other side, dude. After all this stuff with Räum and Amon, I don’t really have a doubt that there’s more after death,” Amin trailed off, looking into the far distance to his left. The last thing he said was little more than a murmur. “Just hope I don’t end up down there.”
Then he leaned forward and turned off the camera.
Needless to say, I immediately jumped into the rest of the content he had left for me and holy shit there was way more to this than I had thought. Most of it was shocking—especially when it turned out that the whole Kurd situation in Iraq was instigated by “my” Order—but it was all the murders and disappearances that really got to me. There was a clear trail on some of them—it was obvious that they had been eliminated by someone—but no detective ever made the connections.
Let me clarify. No detectives who didn’t disappear mysteriously ever made the connections.
Seems that while there isn’t much of a paper trail for the Order, they left behind plenty of blood. I read through a ton of articles that supposedly link them to some pretty brutal killings, but most of it is disappearances, ghost ships, lost colonies; to a conspiracy theorist, it would all look pretty damning. Everyone else? Not so much.
But after what I’ve seen, that stuff wasn’t really all that surprising anymore. With what I’ve seen from Samir, what I’ve read about in the prophecies, it just kinda… made sense. It was like getting to see the other half of a jigsaw puzzle.
What really interested me was the information on the House of Orphans. There wasn’t very much of it; most of it was mentioned off-hand by Amin/Victor. Actually, fuck that, he’s just Amin. I know that’s not his real name—Victor probably isn’t his real name, either—but Amin is how I knew him. It’s just… easier to keep talking about him like that.
Anyway, Amin would mention the House every once in a while, Lynn Stafford’s name would come up when he was talking about the higher-ups, but it was the secrecy of it all that really piqued my interest. Apparently the House of Orphans had its public face, its charitable acts, but beneath all of that it was a completely different entity. They were set up to be a sort of counter to the Order, hiding in the shadows to try to combat their world-spanning conspiracy. Or at least, that’s how Amin portrayed them.
To me, they’re both shadow organizations with mysterious motives.
Only reason that I’m sorta siding with the House is that it was set up by Stafford specifically because she found out about the prophecies. I don’t know how she figured it out—Amin didn’t even come close to mentioning that—but he seemed certain that Stafford had an insider or spy or some kind of connection that brought it all to light. Once she knew about the prophecies and just how far the Order was going to translate and protect them, knew just what they were capable of, she knew that someone had to fight against them.
Luckily, because of her past as a congresswoman, she was able to be that person.
Or that’s how it all seems; this is what I’ve been able to gather. It’s still sinking in that Amin wasn’t Amin, but I… I already kinda knew that. He always seemed a bit off, but not in the way that made me cautious or scared. I could always tell that he… not that he was looking out for me, but that he didn’t want to hurt me. I just knew that he had no intention of harming me, and that he always wanted to let me onto some secret I had yet to discover.
Now, when I have all this information in front of me, it’s obvious. It all just clicks. He had been hinting at this for weeks, had been trying to get me into this secret circle since he “met” me.
But I was too late. Now I just have all of his data; his last confessions and testimonials. I could have helped him but instead, after death, he’s still trying to help me.
Fuck me. Just… I’m such an asshole. It was right there in front of me the entire time. I even read back through my own diary and found such obvious fucking clues, and here I am with a stick wedged firmly up my ass. Like, three feet of it. I should have intestinal bleeding I’ve been so fucking stupid. Amin was screaming as loud as he could without giving himself away, but I just wouldn’t and couldn’t listen.
So I’ve made up my mind. I’m going to read through every single bit of data on this server. I’m going to watch all of his videos. I’m going to do every single damn thing I could to make sure that Amin’s sacrifice was worth it. I’m going to make sure I’m educated and informed about my enemies, because that’s what they are. That’s what I have to accept at this point. Teresa and Samir are using me; Baum and Fennsler are just my keepers.
I have no friends. I did… but I lost him.
So even though I’m scared, even though I know that I’m going to have to lie and deceive these people, I’m going to find out what is in these prophecies and if I ever get a chance I’m going to give that information to the House of Orphans. Amin can’t complete his mission, but maybe I can. I’ve already done a little, but I know it’s not enough.
I’ve already uploaded the 616 Diaries onto Amin’s server, hoping that the House can get to it, somehow. I’ll keep posting on there, directly, just to make sure I’m safe and that the Order can’t find it. I’ll do whatever I can, even if… even if it costs me my life.
Amin thought it was worth it to lose his. From what I can tell, mine really isn’t worth much more.
END OF ENTRY
So Amin was definitely keeping secrets. Gonna be a bit for the next entry, which is going to go up on November 14th.