Alterpedia Historia: The Manhunt

(I hate that I have to say this, but this is a fictional account of the history of a fictional world. I do not believe these things, nor should you, as I am making them up. If I receive any comments that I did not do my research into these events, you will be mocked.)

In the Agent of Argyre series of books, there is an organization called the Alter Control Task Force. Though ostensibly an organization for policing activities of the Alter race, an attempt to prevent an eventual race war, they are actually representatives of a city-state on the ocean: The Republic of Argyre.

The Republic of Argyre, an artificial island anchored to an oceanic ridge in the pacific, is a city-state established by Alters for the sake of harboring their kind and establishing a relationship with the mainstream human population. Despite being an artificial island and attached to no primary landmass, the city’s structure is capable of potentially supporting all 12 to 15 million active Alters on the planet.

How did a race of people who’ve lived in hiding for centuries manage to construct such a city? Why would they build their city in the middle of the ocean? Where did they get the resources for such a task? In the Alterpedia Historia, we will answer these questions and discover the history of the Alters. Today we address…

Dangerous Prey

After over half a century of development, the pieces for the Republic of Argyre were falling into place and the time to reveal itself was coming close. The arcology was just beneath the ocean front and the modular auxiliary ships had been constructed in secret in ports around the world. The government was starting to take its final shape, their peacekeeping force in place to ensure a smooth transition. And the development of the Oracle system meant they could gauge the world’s reaction in great detail. However, while the Oracle system was meant to prevent rogue Alters from causing issues for the rest of them, one of the ACTF’s founding members pointed out that there were already rogue elements to deal with.

Though the majority of Alters could be trusted to avoid causing any major issues, not all Alters were capable of understanding the concept. Several less civilized races were still what could be considered “feral” and would pose a threat to peace once it was revealed they weren’t simply urban legend. One race in particular, a form of feral vampiric beast known as the Nosferatu, were a potential threat simply for their terrifying nature. Existing as the half-man, half-bat beast that had appeared in folklore for centuries, the Nosferatu were a rare mutation with an exceptional ability for chaos. Stronger than conventional Vampires, lacking a civilized mind, and possessing a striking image, the Nosferatu active in the world needed to be contained. Yet, despite this, they weren’t the greatest concern as an older threat still remained at large.

Though the Olympians had long been defeated and had fallen to simple legend, remnants of their leadership had continued to lurk for some time. They were deeply involved in the provocation of the great wars, had incited several revolutions, and generally did what they could to keep humanity off balance. Though they had long proposed an Alter nation themselves, their philosophy generally tended towards conquering the humans rather than the more subtle direction Argyre had taken. One leader in particular had been whispered about for centuries as an instigator behind several terrible events and needed to be caught as soon as possible. So, on top of containing the feral Alters, the founding members of the ACTF had another important mission to complete before Argyre could reveal itself: they needed to capture Rufus Plagas.

Rufus’ movements had already been roughly determined in the past. Though he often controlled the flow of information around himself and did his best to hide his presence, the activities of his followers were generally easier to monitor. Several criminal organizations and secret societies had formed around him, generally known by the outside world but not identified as Alter organizations. Criminal organizations going by names like “The Locusta” were operating around the world with Alters of all walks of life acting as Rufus’ eyes and ears. And other groups like The Illuminati, one of the more public of Rufus’ secret societies, were exposed to such a degree that humanity had long ago started to mock it – providing the actual organization a degree of plausible deniability.

However, with the implementation of the Oracle system, it was now possible to look beyond the surface level activities of these organizations and potentially find the man behind them. Tracking the movements of dozens of seemingly unrelated organizations around the world, the Oracles soon started to find patterns of motion that gave them an idea of not only where Rufus had been but where he may go next. It appeared, though they were still trying to find him, that he was well aware of them and was beginning to move against them.

Though Rufus didn’t want Argyre destroyed, he certainly didn’t agree with its current leadership. The Oracles determined that he had his followers already working to infiltrate the Argyre government and that he had been circling the shipyards responsible for constructing the island modules. Though he had yet to successfully infiltrate anything important, he had made connections indirectly which became concerning. Several of the earliest Argyre politicians, even members of the council that began the project, were forced to cut ties to what they now knew to be Rufus backed companies and financiers. Worse, the connections Rufus had made meant that he was now aware they were looking for him.

A team was assembled quickly to track him down – the first international mission of the ACTF besides projects like the Nosferatu containment operation. This team, a “Special Operations Lancer”, was led by Lucian Descartes, a vampire and founding member of both the ACTF and of the Knights Stellar several centuries prior. Lucian was given the task for three primary reasons. First, as one of the oldest Vampires in the organization, Lucian was one of the few people capable of keeping up with the ancient Rufus physically. Second, having been part of the organization longer than it existed, the SOL team respected Lucian and many had trained under him. And third, Lucian and Rufus had a “unique” relationship.

The Oracles could track Rufus to the west coast of North America before he became aware of their tracking but couldn’t narrow down to a specific region. Ranging from Baja California in Mexico all the way to British Columbia in Canada, the search area for him was larger than the team had hoped but the Oracles continued efforts to narrow it down while the team deployed. However, despite the vast search area, the team did have some idea of where to start. Given Rufus’ nature as a Vampire and the fact their search was beginning in winter, Lucian took determined Rufus would go where the days would be shortest so he’d have easier movement. Making efforts to quietly smuggle their equipment past Canadian customs, the SOL team entered Canada and began their search in the Vancouver metro area.

On their arrival the team found that Rufus’ operations had been entrenched for some time, the local branch of his “Locusta” had been quietly operating in the Pacific northwest for considerable time. Though their operations were concealed from mainstream humans, any local Alters were in deals with the Locusta for protection and concealment. Operating with several front organizations and using them to shield the local Alter enclave, Rufus had effectively made the local Alters dependent on him and his men. This arrangement, being key to the survival of many living under it, made it difficult for the team to find leads on the man himself. However, his followers were quite visible.

Though the Locusta had been warned ahead of time that the ACTF had been established, they had greatly underestimated the effectiveness of the organization. Despite being made primarily of regular humans and being heavily outnumbered, the SOL team raided multiple Locusta fronts and captured several of Rufus’ lieutenants in the process. These operations were quick, decisive, and surprisingly quiet. Despite conducting over half a dozen raids, the SOL team only drew the attention of the local authorities once.

Due to the fact Argyre had not gone public yet, and the concerns that identifying marks could start future negotiations off on a bad foot, the team wore limited versions of the uniform featuring the protective gear but no identifying marks. In fact, due to the extra equipment granted to the SOL teams, they were also wearing black helmets with a face covering visor that made even their faces impossible to identify. As such, as the authorities in Vancouver came on the scene of a shootout between the two factions only to find figures in dark jackets with a strange sheen to them standing over a group of pale men in suits. After a momentary standoff, one of the ACTF agents dropped a device similar to a flash-bang, stunning the police long enough for the group to escape. The event would only be identified years later as the first of many jurisdictional standoffs the ACTF would take part in.

Despite finding it difficult to get information out of civilians, it proved to be much easier to get that information out of the captured lieutenants. In part this was because the coming of Argyre made many of them believe their days were numbered. However, a few were also under the impression that the ACTF were still the Knights Stellar and that they were otherwise facing execution. Though the validity of the information was suspect due to this (as torture and intimidation rarely work), the Oracles sorted the information to sort the lies from the truth. Though much of it was deceptive, the lieutenants pointed the team to finding Rufus in the area around Seattle south of the US-Canadian border.

Knowing that the raids would alert Rufus and have him attempting to escape, the team crossed the border as quickly as they could. Thanks to the concealment of their identities, the team had little trouble making the crossing but couldn’t be sure they’d arrive before Rufus tried to leave. The Oracles began watching all activity through the local security cameras, particularly at the airports in case he intended to flee the country. However, as the team arrived to the city there were no hits on the system and the local Locusta had gone completely underground. For the next week, the team was forced to scour the city’s most likely districts for any evidence. It was on the seventh day that the Oracles had their attention drawn to a district in Seattle known as Belltown as the region suffered a mysterious blackout early in the day that created a large blind spot for the system.

Moving into the neighborhood, the team arrived just in time to encounter a car with heavily tinted windows headed south. After some quick observation the team determined it to be Rufus’ personal security team and the man himself on their way to a private chartered plane on the south end of Seattle. Realizing that a confrontation on a public street would result in the local authorities knowing they were there, the team was forced to hold back and watch Rufus make his way through the heart of Seattle. The airfield itself wasn’t far enough from prying eyes to make their move, and the number of men made it unlikely to bring Rufus in quietly. However, one of them had an idea.

Using an item they had on hand known as a “Will-O-Wisp”, a device capable of many functions including small EMPs, the team was aware they could turn Rufus’ own trick against him. Sending one of their own to a relay station as quickly as possible, the team trailed Rufus’ secret motorcade and waited for their opportunity. As Rufus was about to clear the busiest part of Seattle, the agent set off his Will-O-Wisp and turned the smaller blackout into a much larger outage that froze up the downtown Seattle region. With traffic being locked down by the loss of traffic lights, Rufus’ car detoured as soon as it could to try to get around the growing traffic jam.

It was in the process of leaving these busier streets that Rufus’ team made their mistake, as the security team was divided between multiple cars and the attempt to leave traffic resulted in some of these cars being left behind. With Rufus’ security being reduced and his car entering a less active neighborhood, the SOL team moved in to stop his car and commandeer it as quickly as possible – keeping him inside to prevent exposing him to the sun. As the rest of his team was doing what it could to catch up to him, it was already too late – Rufus’ car was now being driven by one agent, as Lucian kept the man himself at gunpoint. And, despite the nature of the action taken…

The world at large remained oblivious to what had actually happened.

(I write novels and dabble in screenplays. If you’re interested in knowing more about this world, follow my twitter where you can get more factoids of the Alterpedia.)

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