Important Notice from Special Committee Icarus
Let it be known to anyone who chooses to be sent to C-08 for any period of time that, if an Associate would come to expire there, their bodies will be treated according to local custom. This means their remains will be committed to P-03. If anyone, for whatever reason doesn’t want their remains to be ‘buried’ within P-03, the Association will make no attempt to stop local proceedings. Would a volunteer not agree with this arrangement, it is highly advised not to venture there
- Dr Drambiou
P-03 or ‘The Styx’ is a body of congealed organic gel-like substances of undetermined size and origin located within the structure of C-08. On the first inspection, it looks like a massive marsh that emits heat and various gasses. If someone were to attempt to touch the surface, the substance might avoid, or attempt to envelop, whatever makes contact. There are also witness accounts of the substance turning transparent and other anomalous behaviours that indicate some form of sentience. Unfortunately, local traditions prevent any detailed study of P-03
The local population use P-03 to dispose of the deceased. Although there is no local law enforcement, disposing of human remains is treated as mandatory and there is a religious group enforcing this tradition to an extreme degree’. Any (perceived) attempts to prevent humans remains from being disposed of in P-03 are punished with violent beatdowns and sometimes lynchings by the aforementioned groups.
Regarding the relevance of P-03 Edit
After the discovery of P-03, an argument emerged between various committees about its relevance to the mission of the Association. The following documents are letters that reflect the main argument against and in favour of the monitoring of P-03.
The Initial request by Dr Drambiou Edit
Esteemed members of the Chair,
I write you well aware some have questioned the relevance to keep any files on P-03. This is understandable considering most lifeforms encountered on C-08 are irrelevant to our mission. P-03 however, is no such entity. This letter, and the attached documents, and for the Chair’s consideration.
It is our belief there is more to P-03 than meets the eye. What this might be we cannot determine but we know it is capable of far more than its well-documented qualities. For that reason alone it should be our, Committee Icarus’, priority to stop anything from disturbing P-03. This means a permanent presence of Associates in Arkology. We can combine this with other activities and investigations in and around this settlement. Such as observation, artefact retrieval, the study of the countless ethnicities, and of course keep a close eye on the events within the Multiverse.
Therefore I request more equipment, personnel and other resources, as stated in the attached documents to this letter.
In response to Dr Drambiou request, Dr Bourbon has responded with a letter, representing the opposition
Esteemed members of the Chair,
I would like to respond to the request by Special Committee Icarus for more resources in every conceivable way. I and those who share my views on this matter are well aware that Icarus’ work went underappreciated in the past until they successfully established a bridge between Atlas and C-08. This is indeed regrettable. That being said, esteemed members of the Chair. Many of us suspect that Dr Drambiou’s influence on the council is growing beyond the pale. I have read the reports on P-03 and quite frankly, it reminds me of the overabundance of folklore, fisherman’s tales and superstitious rumours perpetuated by sideshows and charlatan preachers. It is a shame this is even an entry in our archives. We demand this material to be removed and relegated to a Penny Dreadful magazine so it can be used to entertain the gullible masses.
As far Dr Drambiou, let him refocus his efforts on more important things, like the retrieval of knowledge and technology, instead of indulging in local stories and his newfound religious convictions.
Attached to Dr Drambiou’s letter was a report, submitted by Associate 76, who was on a mission in Arkology to establish contact with local individuals and explore the possibility for a permanent Association presence in the settlement.
Excerpts from the journal by Associate-76 P01-5.05 ===
“...I took me a long time to adjust to this city. It’s almost a combination of slum and bog colony if every hovel would be supplied with electricity and its alleys lit up by lights in every conceivable colour. Most structures remind me of the Insula from ancient Rome if the Romans had chosen them to be built from scrap. Workshops of all kinds, offering Archeotech artefacts recovered from C-08, to butchers and bakers. Speaking of food, I made myself accustomed to Arkology Cuisine, as it is colloquially known. Who would have thought one could grow accustomed to Tentacle on a Twig (I prefer not to describe said twig). It might be a useful skill to learn for any Associate, although I am not sure how many would survive the process. Regardless, my newly developed diet makes it easier for me to mingle with the local population inside the public establishments. Complaining about the food makes it easy to start any conversation here. One of the favourite past times of Arkology’s denizens is telling stories. Tales of worlds long gone, adventures in the corridors and of course, ghosts.
Particular stories newcomers can’t avoid are those about the Styx. Not a day goes by without a local mentioning somebody has been committed to the Styx or being referenced in a song or expression. Everyone who dies here is laid upon a platform and lowered into the soup that is called, The Styx.
It can be found at the end of ‘Corridor 4’. A hallway typical of C-08’s structure, but ends abruptly in a huge space, that looks like it has corroded or been eaten away. The space is filled with this, putrid lake that serves as Arkology’s cemetery. It is a surprisingly serene place that many people use for contemplation and mourning. Corridor 4 was cluttered with candles and the walls covered with pictures of, and notes to, the deceased. The shore is dotted with makeshift benches and altars of sorts. And of course gifts for the dead, or perhaps the Styx itself. The area it covers is so wide It’s impossible to see the opposing shore. But I’ve heard stories some have used boats to cross the Styx to the far end. But I doubt their credibility. Once, when nobody was looking I tried to poke the substance with a piece of rebar. First, the sludge sank into itself as if it was trying to avoid the point. But when I got to close it lashed out at me. It enveloped the pole completely and would have done so to my arm if I didn’t release it in time.
On the surface, the lake looks like a swamp or bog. I wouldn’t blame the unfortunate soul who would attempt to walk on its muddy looking surface.
Only after observing a ‘funeral’ I learned of it porridge-like consistency. At the end of a pier that runs into the Styx, the deceased would be laid to rest on a platform that hangs from a sizable, yet primitive, crane. Then a ceremony would be conducted. Unfortunately in a tongue, I do not understand. Nor is my sign-language advanced enough to follow the metaphysical symbols depicted. Finally the deceased would be lowered into the lake.
At first, it looked disgusting, like disposing of a body in a pool of sewage. A disgraceful way to inter ones dead. But, as the flow lifted the departed off of the platform and the deceased sunk beneath the surface, the body remained clearly visible. It drifted away peacefully in a perfect horizontal position until it faded from sight, almost as if it was being carried away by something.
I asked how deep it goes, but nobody knows for sure. Any research into the pool has been forbidden by the Styxian
Fraternity. I cannot describe the Styxians in any other way than a fanatical cult who claim the Styx is divine, to whom the Arkologians owe to feed it their lifeless husks. And these cultists take this obligation very seriously.
One time I had business inside The Gut, the old logistical hub of the station. There I encountered a flight of fully equipped Styx Clan carrying an empty stretcher like they were partaking in an armed procession.
Their gear is typical of most scavengers, except they all wear hoods like monks. Underneath their head coverings they wear this macabre facial protection, which reminds me of really creepy Venetian mask or something used in ancient Greek Tragedies; but with large eyes that light up like candles and a rebreather-filter fitting inside of a gaping mouth.
As I understand it, the stretcher was intended for the lifeless body of a scavenger who died inside one of the hallways. These Styxians are so committed to their cause they risk life and limb to gather any human remains to entomb in the Styx.
I started to wonder why they would deem it necessary to do this.”
Report attachment P01-5.13 Edit
“For future inquiries into the Styx, I started recording my conversations with local men and women. There are no official sources, recognised scholars or authorities. So to learn anything about any subject, the public houses are the best place to start. Especially the bartenders. Apart from having impressive collections of oddities recovered from the corridors through bartering, they have an encyclopedic knowledge of events and rumours around town.
Therefore I decided to record some of these stories as told by the locals for my research… And I may have been tipsy at the time.”
[Beginning of audio log]
“I think it is on… Uhum... This Ti- uh, Associate 76 and I am with.”
“Right, yeah. You said you had information about the Styxians?”
“Oh, do I. Those weirdos have been hanging around the Styx for as long as I can remember. Have been looking through the corridors for human carcasses like friggin carrion crawlers. Even if there is nothing but bones left they’ll drag it back to the lake.”
“Seems like a noble thing.”
“Ha, you think they care about our loved ones? They bring back the bodies and lower them into the Styx without telling anyone. Those Anachronistic Order preachers sometimes stop them to arrange a proper burial. But that is it. Everybody else evades them like they are lepers.”
“Who knows! They’re fanatics who wear those creepy masks at all times. Some believe they themselves are some sort of ghouls who eat from the Styx.”
[As second voice starts speaking] “I heard they are revenants! ”
‘Excuse me, what?’
The Bartender: “Yeah, revenants. They say if somebody is drowned in the Styx, they come back from the lake a haunt their murderers.”
Unknown male: “No, you are telling it wrong. Anyone who is murdered comes back to life to kill their murderers.”
[Another female with a raspy voice joins the conversation] “Yeah, I heard that too. I heard they drag them to the Syx and drown them.”
Unknown male: “No, way. Somebody would notice.”
The Bartender: “Who? The Styxians? Do you think they would dare to stop a servant of their precious God?”
Unknown female: “No, I think he meant the Styxians are the Revenants!”
“Uhm, excuse me-”
Unknown male: “Yeah, that is why they act the way they do!”
Bartender: “Ah, Hogwash!”
Unknown male: “Oh, yeah? How many of those carnival freaks have you tended? Have any of you ever see them eat?”
Unknown female: “Don’t they eat from the Styx?”
Bartender: “Oh, come on.”
Unknown male: “You just said it yourself!”
Bartender: “Guys, it is just a story. I heard the last cycle they are aliens. Or fungus that grew in the shape of a human. Or... Jews in disguise”
Unknown: “Jews? Really?”
Bartender: “They’re just stories, Jill!”
“Thank you I think I heard enough for one day.”
[End of recording]
Report attachment P01-5.27 Edit
“Last night managed to have a conversation with a Styxian sister, although it was not my intention. As far as I have
observed the Styxians they are harmless, but I heard stories of them assaulting people who attempted to keep bodies away from them. These varied from stories of people who wanted to cremate their loved ones to murderers, trying to hide their victims, and cannibals. Yes, they don’t like cannibals.
Anyway, I was in my room about to go to sleep. That is when she caught me with my pants down. She stood behind me, in front of the window. I could only see the outline of her body as the light of a Vail Generator opposite the street blinded me. But I could clearly make out the tear shape glasses of her mask. She threatened to kill me if I made a sound, so I complained as I pulled up my pants. That is also when I activated the tape recorder in my trouser pocket to record our conversation.“
[audio recording begins]
[A lot of disturbances can be heard. Possibly fabric brushing against the recorder]. ][A young female voice speakers, distorted by something like a gas filter] “Yes. The word is, you are asking a lot of questions.”
“Yeah, um about that. I just want to learn about your-uhm… Just a moment
[the disturbance stops]
I would like to learn more about the nature of the Styx.”
“You’re wasting your time. It is unknowable. Even we, the Chosen only know what it desires. What it craves.”
“Our dead bodies?”
“It is more than that. We are stuck between worlds, just like it. Just like us, it lives in exile. Therefore only our flesh can sustain it.”
“And if we don’t?”
“It tolerates our presence. If we don’t acknowledge its charity, why would it give any?”
“Then- You don’t worship it? You feed it, so it doesn’t eat us?”
“We serve and in return, it gives us guidance, purpose and shares with us its wisdom.”
“What about, eternal life?”
“The Styx is the final destination for all. Life is not even part of its equation. It perceives you as something that exists. And for some reason, you deem that existence sacred.”
“Well, I -”
“Is killing another human wrong?”
“W-Well. Yes, but it depends!”
“If ending a life needs justification, it means it has sacred properties that gives human life value. It has decided to respect that value. In return, we respect its desires to remain in equilibrium.”
“In Balance? What does that mean?”
[End of recording]
“As I was not prepared the tape was filled to capacity. Regardless, the cultist left me soon after, without explaining any more. I guess she judged me not to be a threat. She is right. But still, I wonder if she was concerned about that in the first place.”
Report attachment P01-5.43 Edit
“My interaction with the Styxian woman is turning into a legend of its own. Intoxicated I told somebody about my encounter with her, and already I heard three new variations on how that went down. Two of them ended with her disappearing into a puff of smoke. I guess that sounded better than her falling the last few feet and landing in a dumpster. She seemed offended when I asked she was alright. I’ll never understand women. Anyway, If I didn’t know better, I would say the locals want to be afraid of the cult.”
Report attachment P01-5.66 Edit
“I had a meeting today. The boundary between fact and fiction is a thin one around these parts. There are plenty of stories about Wildmen, Witches and Insane people inhabiting some spots deep within the Corridors. I always assumed there would be some truth to them, but I imagined these to be small groups hiding within a defensive position. I was wrong.
A scavenger approached me at a bar. Asked me if I was the man who encountered the Styxian in his room. I admitted this in veiled language, just in case. Then he told me a tale of an encounter he had with a mad hermit on one of the lower levels of the Outer Ring. It happened when he was being chased by Void Beasts. Without knowing where to flee, he entered a hole in a wall. And once he was in there, the beasts would go no further. Instead, they stayed in front, waiting for him to come out. With no alternative, he entered the crevice. Possibly a crawl space between levels, but he wasn’t sure. There he found the cave was inhabited by a rambling hermit constantly talking to himself. When the Hermit noticed him he welcomed him, offering him a place to recover. Exhausted he accepted a place by his heater, but he didn’t stop talking like he was calling out every thought that crosses his mind. The scavenger asked the Hermit why he was not in Arkology, just out of curiosity. This however set him off on something fierce. Rambling something about a city of the dead, he became like a ball of rage. Although he wasn’t being attacked, the scavenger ran off terrified. Not so much for the violence, as for the things he was screaming. Describing nightmarish events that were about to unfold. He rather be food for the Void Beasts then listen to the raving of an insane prophet.
After leaving that place, he encountered a flight of Styxians, looking for human remains. He joined them around their heater to rest. They offered him something to eat and drink, just as custom demands, and asked him if he encountered some bodies for them to collect. That is when he brought up the hermit to them. They became curious about what the Hermit told him and inquired if he mentioned anything about Arkology. The scavenger told them little, other than that the Hermit was clearly insane. The Styxians never bothered him since then, but he couldn’t shake the feeling their beliefs and the ramblings of the Hermit were connected. He never investigated further, but maybe an investigator like myself would follow up on it.
I didn’t know if I could trust this man. Of course, he demanded to be compensated for the location of the hole in the wall. But this is Arkology, where nothing besides being life is free. I paid him, followed his instructions and found the Hermit. This cave, it is like a dungeon as described in a penny awful. A laboratory with Archeotech used in ways I never imagined. The man is a mad genius with knowledge even beyond the engineers of Radio Retrofuture. But also is completely demented. I could hear his intelligible rambling the moment I entered the entrance in the wall. l approached his lair and announced my presence, hoping he would become more comprehensible. I was quickly proven wrong, assumed the worst and took out my recorder.
[Star of audio recording]
‘Don’t worry, this is just a sound recorder.’
“Oh, dear… He is using analogue technology based on magnetised tape. How are they supposed to achieve anything? Tell him you understand what he is doing. Yes, I know that is a recorder! What do you want?”
‘Why are you here?’
“Just answer the question. Yes! Because Arkology was built by the dead! And they know that I know!”
‘Are you talking about the Styxians?’
“Oh, please. Why all these irrelevant questions? No, no, no. But they know about them. Well, some of them at least.“
‘Alright, then. How do you know?’
“Focus! Hades! It speaks... It speaks to me. So loud, I can barely hear myself think!”
‘Like..? So, what does it tell you?’
“It doesn’t tell me anything. It, it. I need to say this correctly. Need to think of the word. It vibrates in my minds. Yes, vibrates in my mind! Showing me things. It shows me by sounds. Loud, loud, sound. So, loud-”
‘Please, what did it show you then?’
“All things fed to her become part of her… But not really, but still. They become her thoughts, her tools, her voice. But they fade. They become silent and she becomes lonely. That’s when the hunger starts. Desires, cravings and an all increasing desire to consume. The flesh must flow.“
‘What are you saying? It will feed on Arkology if the Styx become hungry?’
“No, no, noo. You don’t get it. Arkology excites to feed, It. The endless stream of refugees. All this fresh meat is brought here for her! We are its food!”
“I have seen-n them! If she is hungry they come out as the city sleeps. Sometimes they take just one. Sometimes two. Just enough to keep her sated until they start feeding her the dead.”
‘Who is them? The Styxians?’
‘no, no, no! He is not- ’
‘Please, who then?’
“Be quiet! Would she ever go hungry? Would she ever starve, she will show no mercy! She will consume and feed. The dead will come after the living and attempt to quench her hunger. Would she ever regain consciousness it will probably already be too late!”
‘Then why not let her starve?’
“Are you listening to me. She consumes everything! If she finds her way through the Vail she’ll consume the Void, the worlds. one by one. All of the Multiverse will be contaminated. The only way to stop her is to feed her, forever and ever and ever! Do you understand!”
‘Yes, yes. I get it- Now keep your hands off! Now then, who created Arkology?’
“Lexicon knows! He knows everything!”
‘How is he inv-’
[At this point The Hermit grabbed his head, as if in pain] “It's so loud, so loud! It won’t shut up! [Groans in agony] Will you stop it? Go a-waiii. Go away!”
[End of record]