A God Machine Chronicle
World of Darkness
Wyatt Matthews remembers being shot in the stomach. He remembers the sharp explosion of pain erupting as the other man with his face met him backstage. He looks around the room to find a man dressed in white standing a few feet from him.
Mister Eyes informs Wyatt what is going on. Wyatt listens and tries to remain calm at the fact that his gunshot wound is being stitched closed by some kind of mechanical crab. Time seemingly has frozen beyond the room. Wyatt can see the press unmoving outside by the stage, with his friend Maya also immobile in her attempts to make them all leave. "You are the Iteration that the God Machine has chosen. The Master Piece." Wyatt is told that he now has to embrace this opportunity. But Wyatt realizes that would mean the others he met would also have to be killed.
"This is an Eraser," Mister Eyes informs Wyatt. It is intended to wipe away the other iterations. Wyatt takes the device, but rather than agree to do as the man says, he uses it on the man himself. As Mister Eyes howls and vanishes, another man in white emerges. He strikes that man too, and hears the panic scream in panic as he falls apart... talking about a life he once lived.
Alone backstage, Wyatt considers his options. He remembers the old man and the magic key and decides to revisit him. Perhaps he can finally shed light to these questions that test his sanity.
In Moebius, Ronald Tenneberger has a panic attack as he considers the insanity of everything that has been happening. But people take more notice when Zee shrieks and faints upon seeing something... beyond the veil that covers the world. Red, the owner of the cafe/bar, calls emergency services and warns Ronald that if he had hurt that girl in any way, she would personally beat him up. Ronald's gaze focuses on Queena's book and in his mind he locks the title: The God-Machine. Queena hisses at Ronald about having hurt the woman, but Ronald tries to convince them all that he had nothing to do with her outburst. As Zee slowly begins to regain consciousness, Ronald still cannot wrap his head around the fact that Queena, the extremely tall cross-dresser, is the splitting image of KaQoH. He helps Zee to her feet, and the two hurry away before the paramedics arrive.
"That's not.. right," Zee mumbles as the two head down the street. Ronald looks up to see what Zee means. To his amazement, the Twin Towers are still visible. "That's just not possible.." Zee gasps, "Only one survived. The other plane was shot down by the jets, right?" Ronald slowly shook hi head, "Perhaps where you lived. I don't think this New York City is either of our worlds." They reach a building which Ronald remembers to be the Sun Building. Instead, its name is the Star Building. Stepping out of the doorway, Ronald sees a woman who resembles Kandice. Only here, she wears a nun's habit and shows no sign of recognizing him. Kandice and Ronald had been in on-off relationships for years. When a nearby car has someone who resembled the man knew to be Professor John, Ronald decides he's had enough, walks up to the old fogey, and beats him to the ground. As Zee tries to demand for an answer, Ronald slides into the driver's seat and yells at her to get in.
Ronald revs the engine and drives with one destination in mind: Wyatt Matthew's car.
He recalled the book Queena was reading, and given his odd recollections and fragmentary dreams matching the name and themes of that book, Ronald believed the writer held some answer.
Seth Macintyre wakes to the sound of a barking dog. He sits up and discovers Rey Tinsey had broken in. The man, whose face resembles Seth's own, asks Seth who he is and what he is doing here. Seth admits he noticed the existence of other similar faces. As Rey babbles about the God Machine, Seth worries if he has just found himself in front of a mad man but these worries are eclipsed by the sight of seeing a man dressed in all white seemingly materializing into the room from behind the stranger.
Rey senses something is amiss, and draws his pistol. Seth, however, does not hesitate and leaps for the kitchen. As Rey fires twice into the man in white, Seth already knows the gun won't stop its advance. He sprays into the man's face, then scoops up the frying pan from the sink and slams it to knock the intruder out. The man in white drops the spritzer in his hands, which Seth quickly picks up and offers to Rey. "You want one?"
"How'd you get a pause from that one attacking us," he winced, "Have you been fighting these things?"
Finding Seth to be an ally, Rey sprouts out everything he knows about the assailants. He talks about the Primes and how the God-Machine at times tests iterations of a "choice" to see which one should be allowed to pass. Claims that was what they were. Iterations. When Seth inquires why he went here, to Graham's place, Rey admits he came because he knew that Graham's wife had contacted the God-Machine before. "There's this mantra they say. Like a prayer. It calls it."
When Seth inquires if Rey tried the others, Rey nonchalantly admits that he tried reaching out to another iteration: Wyatt Matthews. "I checked his home, but he wasn’t home, so i burned it." Seth tries not do anything rash. They opt to head there instead.
Wyatt arrives to see the building burning. People are all gathered outside. He stares at the place he once called his home and realizes it was now going up in flames. He calls Mara and Mara asks, "Why do I have a feeling you are no longer here?" with here being backstage of the book launch. As Wyatt tries to explain how his home is burning, Mara side comments about the cleaning lady nearby who seems to look familiar. "Her name's Madella, does she ring any bells?" Wyatt is distracted however, having noticed embers floating away from a nearby alley, far from the fire. He heads there and finds a portable potty's door wide open and emitting smoke and embers. From inside, a badly injured and burned Donald crawls out.
"Keep away from me! You and your devil books!" the old man snarls as he tries to get back to his feet. But Wyatt yells back about having killed two of the guys in white and Donald doesn't seem to know whether to make heads or tales of his claim. Wyatt sees the special Key still in the lock of the portalet and pulls it free. He props Donald up to walk with him and makes in the direction of what he knows to be the closest motel.
A car skids to a stop near them and from inside a voice hollers for Wyatt to stop. Wyatt looks and sees one of the men who looks like him. He recalls him vaguely from the confusing encounters which he still has trouble grasping if they were dreams. Or visions. Or bouts of insanity. Ronald plays his cards right and starts convincing Wyatt that stepping into the car is the best way to get answers. Neither of them notice Donald however slip the special Key from Wyatt's pocket. Nor see him slip it into the car's lock as he reaches to open the door. Wyatt realizes in the last minute what is going and only notices as he steps into the car, that even with Donald holding the door open, from inside the car door remained closed!
Thanks to his skill with Parkour, Ronald slips out through the window and lands beside Donald, but Donald leaps in through the portal he had created. Ronald tells Zee to follow and quickly leaps into the portal as to not lose the man. Wyatt followed suit and leapt, but unlike Ronald did not have the finesse to follow through okay.
As Wyatt crashes to the ground atop Donald, he discovers they are no longer in the car. Ronald tumbled past the old man and glanced around to realize they were inside the City Park. All three of them poured out from a door in the children's slide in the playground. Zee tumbled in after and landed on Wyatt, who sadly was taking the brunt of Donald's panicked kicking to get free. Zee wonders if this is why her brother Rey had killed himself. Ronald admits he thinks Rey may still be alive.
"Tell me more of the Prime," Seth asks and Rey admits he doesn't know much about him. He shares how he had broken free from "the Fictional World" in hopes of warning the rest. He claims to have been a test subject for the God-Machine and that the Fictional World was some sandbox playpen where the God-Machine could test its theories. "I can take you to it," Rey offers.
Hoping for any answers, Seth agrees to go.
Wyatt endures the kicks, but does not drop the Eraser. Seeing the hatch on the slide, Ronald picks up Donald's Key and peers inside. He sees it lead back to his kitchen. Donald calms down, surrendering to the others. He admits the Key can bring you anywhere, but there is one place where it can always go. They open the hatch again and peer through. They see a Japanese community. Old signs. Damp streets. And in the heavens, a frozen symbol of coming death.
"This is where the bomb fell. We are ground zero. Hiroshima. This event is locked in time. So the key forever revisits this place."
Ronald doesn't quite why anyone would still revisit here.
"It is a safe place," Donald admits. "Here, time cannot be changed again."
Wyatt hears his phone ringing. Crawling away from Donald, he lifts the phone to his ear and hear's Mara on the line. She sounds panicked. Wyatt sees Donald staring at the Eraser. "Why not just erase them all?" he throws at him. Wyatt does not respond. Even with Mara screaming into the earpiece, Wyatt has stares at the Eraser and considers the question.
The alleyway. Rey excitedly tells Seth about how he had to travel all the way from the Fictional World. The man shows Seth where he left the machine, and what Seth sees is a junk pile of old chairs, duct tape, wires, broken computer keyboards, stacks of boxes and a shattered iPad. He stares at the man as he excitedly chatters about the upcoming journey. Seth watches as Rey hands him a helmet, sits down on one of two chairs, and tells him they're ready. Reluctantly, Seth joins him and dons the helmet. A switch is pulled and...
"We are here," Rey tells him. Rey excitedly introduces him to the unbelievable vista that surrounds them. Of the grand machines and the ever-changing patterns that form the Fictional World.
Seth realizes Rey is insane. The "vehicle machine" is nothing but junk. They remain on the street. And Rey continues to describe things he alone can "see". Seth uses the sprizter on Rey and allows the man to drop unconscious in his own seat. He then looks up and sees the arrival of a Man in White. “Let’s make a deal," Seth tells the man, then adds, "But first take me to your leader.”
Ronald calls Conners hoping to have the policeman ally of his help him out, but gets someone named Collins instead. Confused not knowing who is him, Collins drops the call. Ronald calls again and the line still connects to Collins. There are the sounds of people praying in the background. Ronald opts to end the call.
He watches as Wyatt tests the metallic device on a cockroach. The insect vanishes with a single click of the "Eraser." Wyatt shares how he had killed two of the men in white using it. This prompts Ronald to ask where he got it. Which quickly spirals down to why he has it.
"So they wanted you to use it on us."
Wyatt claims to not have any such plans, but now Ronald is uncertain if this was just a trick. And attempt to lure Ronald into revealing the whereabouts of the rest of them.
The Man in White brings Seth to the "leader." In the spaces between the worlds, Seth finds himself shown the way, past the many winding staircases and passageways, to the meeting room of the one and only God-Machine. The thing is complex. Every changing. Modular.
The Angel that meets Seth is a clockwork masterpiece, with moving parts and delightful details. It speaks to Seth with single words, and challenges his limited capacity to grasp things to its advantage. The city is being restructured, and the Angel believed that it would be best for all Iterations to simply do as they are told.
Seth would have none of that.
Quickly turning the tables around, Seth confounds the Angel with inquiries that he knew would push its buttons. After a number of carefully selected insults, Seth throws the final big whammy statement: "You don't have a full face," he mutters in reference to the erased Mister Ears and Mister Eyes which the Angel had explained were deleted by the Master Piece from the grid. "So you cannot gather all the information you truly need."
Seth had made the God-Machine waver. And in response, the God-Machine rose.
Pain. Ronald feels an intense pain welling from his neck. Wyatt and Zee scream as they see the massive mechanical arm extended from behind Ronald. The thing was like some sensor array, with lenses and rods poking out. Its base was deeply rooted at Ronald's nape.
"What is it!??! Take it out!" Ronald called out but Wyatt new it would be unwise to risk the Eraser. One miss and Ronald could be the one hit. During the commotion, Donald slips away from them all and vanishes. Satisfied to see the two iterations, the machine withdrew back beneath the flesh.
Feeling his mortality, Ronald decides to revisit Kandice. The events unfolding have reached a point where their sanity once more was threatened. But the door opens and a woman stares out at Ronald. She does not know him. She does not bat an eyelash. She had no recollection of him at all.
The God Machine rises from the very ground like a tsunami of mechanical parts. It swallows the Angel and brings to the fore an avatar for its own purposes. A massive head towers above Seth, like the famous stone heads on Easter Island. The out-pouring of stimuli is intense. Seth struggles to retain self-awareness as the God Machine floods him with information with every answer. A multitude of screens display variations of its words. The varied languages of the world pour out as a complex chorus of speech patterns.
"What you need," Seth focuses on his own words, "Is a consultant. A guide. You cannot break human to states. Just because a man is idealistic, does not mean he cannot act cowardly. Nor because he acts cowardly will it mean he cannot ever act idealistic again."
"Humanity exists to defy their own nature?" the God Machine understands.
“Humanity is Chaos.”
Ronald and Wyatt head to another familiar site for Ronald. "The main man stays here. KaQoH. The gangbaner was always here to..."
The place was empty.
"This doesn't make sense," Ronald growled.
Wyatt hears his phone once more and quickly draws it out. This time he tries to give Mara time to explain. She brings horrible news. Wyatt's parents have disappeared. They were out on a cruise called the Fictional Liner. The ship had befallen a terrible accident. As the words reach Wyatt, he cannot help but feel this is all related to the events surrounding these strange times. That his parents were being "punished" for his actions.
Seth challenges the God-Machine. He questions if the God-Machine truly grasps the subjects of its attention and challenges it to consider details that it has opted to overlook. From the many screens visible, Seth notices footage which tease events that have transpired through the days. Scenes of Wyatt Matthews striking down two of the men in white with some device. Of Ronald Tenneberger slipping through cities with the use of some Key. Scenes of the God-Machine's methods slipping between the cracks of human notice.
"Steps have been made, taken to adapt to the final Chronology. I am The God-Machine, I am built for The Purpose."
Seth questions how the God-Machine's main henchman, Mister Face, has fallen apart.
"You are Large, inefficient and prone to errors, because your face allowed itself to be erased. You are no God."
The God-Machine realizes there is truth in that statement. There are things beyond its notice.
“State your offer”
"I think I’ve changed my mind, I thought I was dealing with an equal. you are hardly a leader. You lack intuition. You can’t figure out what you are doing," Seth sneers.
Mister Mouth joins them. He warns the God-Machine of the role this iteration plays in the grand design. "He is a cog that leads to the destruction of the God Machine!"
But the God-Machine is not afraid. This is not the first world. God Machine has survived a reboot of the world before. And what Seth offers intrigues him.
“Reboot means trying again, and guessing and guessing and guessing..” Seth smiles. He knows the God-Machine desires answers. And the con-man has successfully lured his mark.
Wyatt and Ronald decide to head to the Clock shop they visited in the past when Donald first had him search for Seth. Wyatt feels more and more frantic, knowing things are closing in to some concluding moment. Inside, the old woman manning the place recognizes Wyatt but as she talks to him, he realizes she is referring to him as if he were Seth. It was as if all "stories" of each one were compiling into a single tale.
A woman arrives to have her clock fixed, and Ronald realizes it is Red from the Mobius cafe. Wyatt recognizes her to be the officer from that Fictional Ship dream he had. When they say hello, Red however refers to Wyatt directly. From their exchange, it seems even the incident with Zee at the cafe is now referred to as events which transpired with Wyatt.
Ronald feels faint. It is almost as if his very life is being rewritten. He raises his hand to cup his face, and discovers he can see right through it. Translucent and ghostly, Ronald panics and tries calling for Wyatt's notice, but his words no longer reach him. The only thing more solid is some kind of metal mantis that clings to Ronald's spine.
In a moment of ingenuity, Ronald tries to reach out and possess Wyatt, thinking maybe he can borrow his body or something. But then some kind of "illegal process error!" manifests on the mantis' face in response. Twisting out of thing's reach, Ronald slides away and leaps through a wall to escape. The mantis takes chase.
The God-Machine crafts a chamber. The tube of glass and metal opens and welcomes Seth to step inside. He is invited to step inside to begin assimilation. Seth nods and walks inside without a word. He's played his hand.
Now is time to see it to the end.
Ronald leaps into the nearest car and hotwires the car to life. Wyatt leaps upon the Mantis, in a defiant desire to call for his life back.
"Understand humanity. Do you understand mortality? The best way to understand is to test it."
The God-MachineSeth ponders on these thoughts as Ronald drives the car back to slam into the Mantis. As the Mantis crumbles to the ground, like a broken sculpture of glass, Wyatt rolls away from the debris and watches as Ronald gives him one last nod, then guns the engine to drive away.
Wyatt watches as Ronald drives away and never returns.
"Step back. Let the world live."
There have been no other attacks. Neither Ronald nor Wyatt have found themselves besieged by any strangeness. Life has pretty much returned to normal.
Ronald had left New York City. He sold the BMW he had hotwired, found a new car to break into, then drove around the country on a celebration of freedom. He then drove to the Grand Canyon, drove the car over the cliff, then stole a trailer to leave.
Ronald remains mobile. Happy of his life without roots.
Satisfied to be free. Alive. Real.
Wyatt has launched his latest book, entitled “Brother Bear”
The book explored the story of two bears who were brothers. A coming of age story that touched on community and transformation, on the world of the wild and the way the bears learned to live with the Native American Indians in their land.
Wyatt is a guest in the Ellen show, and the audience are all standing right now and doing the Brother Bear Dance, which Wyatt himself leads with a smile. People start asking questions and a police officer asks, "Do you remember him?"
Wyatt, uncertain, asks, "Who?"
And to end the show, Wyatt sits on a platform above a tub of water, and a young black boy named Jimmy is given a ball to pitch at a target. "Dunk him into the water for charity!" The boy takes aim. Wyatt realizes it was the boy who opened a door in his life before.
"He remembers," the God-MachineSeth vocalizes. "He still remembers."
But the God-MachineSeth decides to take a step back. To allow life to unfold.
Given the membranes of chance that interconnect us all, the best way to grasp humanity is to let it live.
So the God-MachineSeth let it live.