Everyone always assumes it was Ascender that recruited me, and that’s true in a way, but it was Bash who found me first.
Bash and I worked for the same company way back in the day. Bash in IT and me in customer service, helping old folks track down their insurance policies.
We never really crossed paths until a mandatory company bowling party. We were put on a team with some guys from the accounting department, and although we see the world pretty differently, we bonded over the course of the night and following weeks (as much as Bash will allow “bonding”) over being “queer” and all sorts of random shared fascinations with things like plants, tarot cards, secret societies, and the Mandela Effect.
Bash kept mentioning a message board and a guy there who knew a lot about the latter half of those fascinations, and then one day I answered the phone in the call center, and he was on the other end. Ascender.
Bash had already been recruited at that point, as had Itsuki. Endri came pretty shortly after me. We were all looking for something — truth, wonder, community.
Looking back, I was looking for all of that, but above all, Ascender was the father I never had. He was larger than life, authoritative, wise, and caring in a distant way. He had a dark past he only mentioned in cryptic bits, and we knew that’s why he kept the world at arm’s length, but it was that push and pull that locked us in like we were stuck in his tidal force.
I can see now that most of my fight with Ascender was because of what I expected and needed from him, and he wasn’t capable of giving. He had a mission, and though he cared about us in whatever way he could care, we were ultimately five (and then 5,000) means to an end. He was righting some old wrong, fixing the past, which is impossible, unless you have a magical book of course.
And now, just like before, he’s calling shots and making decisions for other people because he thinks he knows best. Only now, he’s deciding the fate of lives without so much as a heads up. He has a cause, a path that he sees so clearly, but it makes him blind to everyone around him, and any other alternative option. All that matters is his mission, and when he’s done with you, when he’s done with whatever you have to offer, he moves on. Itsuki died while Ascender went looking for a new team to lead, one that didn’t burden him with having to care for anything but his fight, and if I’m honest, I blame him just as much as I blame Teddy Fallon.
I want to say I don’t care and I’ve moved on, that I pity him or wish him the best, but the truth is that if there were ever someone in this world I hated, it would be him. If he’s the cause of this, if he dragged my friends back into his tide just to hurt them again, then he’s my enemy.
I’m sorry. I almost forgot. The symbols you’re receiving. The herald saw them before it cost too much to look into the potential future. She says that they’re essentially magimystic alchemical symbols. The primal distillation of the six elements and the houses of “the magimystic self” that they govern. When she could still see, she saw people someday wearing the symbols, in solidarity and as signs of hope, as ways to wear their belief with pride and as a way to support others who were hurting or in need.
Maybe this is the beginning of that.