IX. The Revenants
We are slayers, but we aren’t Slayers.
We hunt other supernatural creatures for the same reason that early humans in Europe and other places cleared away primordial forests. We need room to build a new world of our own design. Unlike a lot of the others, particularly the Asian time traveler group and the monsters from beyond space, we have patience and a very catholic (“little C”) sense of how to see the world. Call it “holistic strategy.”
The answer to your last question, from when you had a mouth, is “Revenant.” We are called Revenants. There are other terms used: Patchwork People, Franks and Sallies, Mr. or Ms. Scream and Scream Again, etc., etc. There are certainly those who doubt we exist, thanks to a very popular English novel and its many adaptations. But you know better now, don’t you?
We are probably the most intelligent and civilized of the “impossible” beings found in our world, precisely because we’re neither fractious and stupid (hello, crazy sword-wielding eternally young weirdos!) nor bland, groupthink robots (totally not pointing fingers at the halos and horns crowds). We cooperate to build a better society among ourselves and in the world. In the end, we can’t really reject anybody in the world. Everyone is going to be part of the future we’re envisioning.
The process that makes us exist is complicated only in its specifics. We are the result of a mixture of surgery, biochemistry, esoteric technomagic, alchemy and a certain degree of artistry. We are the merger of many kinds of flesh, cellulose, metal, silicon, electricity, aetheric radiations and pure thought. There is a poetry in the blades that cut our organs free from their original sources and in the chemical baths that turn some of our flesh into moldable fluids. We embrace every kind of artifice with joy: My teeth are 3D-printed from pure titanium, my right hand was sewn on with cross-stitching, my eyes were grown in a vat, my hair is pure plastic lovingly hand-punched into my scalp. I even used to have some toes that were carved of wood by my own dear “Geppetto.” I am, I think, more than the sum of my parts.
In fact, I know I am, because everything is. If you think you know the beach from a few grains of sand, then you’re a fool who will never listen to the surf under a hot summer sun. Context is inescapable. Everyone is a ghost in a shell, or a few lines of verse from a long, long book. But everyone is precious all the same, and we Revenants partake of everything in the whole of the world. There are mystics who seek transcendence like chasing a ghost in a hall of mirrors, but we… we attain that same ideal in the flesh.
So we slay. But what is slaying to someone who doesn’t permit death to end anything? You’d have called us killers, but what we’re actually doing is a kind of transgression. We’re erasing barriers and blurring all borders. The only real death we deal is to those who would stand in the way of our progress.
It all sounds quite arcane, but it’s plain and simple. Unknown to most, there is a species—and we are definitely a species—of creatures that are both dead and alive, human and monster, seeker and sought. We are that species: Revenants. We reject definitions of age, gender, culture, even life, death and “undeath.” We are the soul given reign over the world. Our way is unity and wisdom and one day we will lead all the world into a future no others can imagine. And all this we do without the sterility of false resurrection or the straitjacket of medieval dogma. Every wise and wakeful spirit can be an equal part of our design, and we can continue our design with or without anyone else.
The how of such continuation is simple. Our creators imbued us with the power to create. This is not true of others who are called “undead.” All a Vampire may do is take a pawn from the other side of the board and turn it into one of their pawns. Human to Vampire, that’s it, that’s all. All a ghost may do is welcome those who have left the world. Even the vaunted Lords of the Ukku Pachu can only initiate the living into their society of undeath.
But we, alone, can spawn our own kind without resort to any truly living thing. Revenants are fertile amongst ourselves—creating unlife by mating is hard and uncertain, but it is a reality. Males may mate with females and together we spawn what we call lemures, our undead offspring.
That “dhampir” business? Mostly mythical. It’s really just a human imbued with a dose of the same curse that generates Vampires, but without dying first. The curse works differently than it would in a Vampire, of course. How do they make that happen, the cursing of a living body with Vampiric darkness? You’d have to ask a Vampire. The rumor is the curse could be transmitted all sorts of ways. Vampires are ridiculously oversexed in any case, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was an STD. Anyway, back to our real topic of discussion…
An undead infant does not grow into a child in the way a mortal baby would. The process of growth and development is complex and challenging; infusions of special formulae, transplanted flesh and bone, and many other things are required to take a child into adulthood among our kind. But there have now been a few waves of Revenant births—and more of us are born every time.
When the time is right, and there are enough of us, the world may change.
Whether we are constructs or the New Generations being born in hidden places, we are better than human. We aren’t bound by nationality, generation, sexuality, history or language—every option is on the table for us, even species, even the type of matter that we’re housed in. Think what sort of culture would grow from such incredibly fertile soil! After nearly two centuries, we Revenants are merely children looking at the possibilities ahead of us. The only thing we are certain about is that we cannot let the rest of the world limit our choices.
In time, as I say, we will arrive at a consensus of what we plan for our immortal, boundless selves, and for the world around us. Some of us have melded with the thoughts and feelings of humans long dead, animals, plants, birds, fish, fungi, all manner of things. When we convene to talk among ourselves, we can link our brains with silky tethers of nerve tissue and do more than talk. We can know. And there is so much to know and to consider!
We are not universal donors of any part of ourselves, but we are universal recipients. You could theoretically graft anything into us and we could assimilate it, just like the monsters on that sci fi television program your dad used to watch. Slice off a surgeon’s right hand and put it on my wrist and I will not only have a nice new hand, but potentially the ability to safely remove your gall bladder. If you cut off a Vampire’s head and sew it on my shoulder, I now have a Vampire stuck as my personal information conduit and occasional user of whatever magical woo he has to exert. The theory does break down with some of our fellow “supernatural factions,” though. Not much you can do for a Revenant with ghost ectoplasm, for example. And Shapeshifters? No, they’re far too strange and “alien” to ever join our bodies.
Our assimilation could go very far. I have heard of a secret society in Vienna that has learned to transfer portions of the mind (or “soul,” if you prefer) to themselves. We can change our personalities and memories. We do not need to settle for what life gives us. We have the only real freedom there is.
Naturally, we enthusiastically support every kind of robotics and prosthetics, but we’re hardly limited to the obviously useful components. When I say we can add just about anything to ourselves, I’m being fairly literal. I’ve met Revenants that scavenged lawnmower motors into themselves or sewed four-slice bread toasters into their chests just for laughs. One side effect of our nature is a close working relationship with electricity; we can power machines on our own if we decide we must.
How much could we add? There is The Mass, of course. I’m not sure where They reside right now—could be right here in San Cipriano, nowadays—but They are the single biggest Revenant of us all. How big is big? We’d have to check the calendar, because there’s a little bit more of The Mass every day. So many living and undead things, dissected and fused into a single shape that’s bigger and stronger and smarter than you’d ever think could happen. Consider Them an experiment: Just how much Revenant can you build? You’ll never know unless you try. So They’re trying.
I mean, even the Titan created over in France years ago was only a giant formed of a few dozen bodies. The Mass is… well, They’re quite a crowd.
Subtraction and division are also possible. Is there a Revenant anywhere that hasn’t gotten bored and disassembled themselves and then let their parts rove around? We all have fun with that. The uni-bodied are mystified about how a severed leg or arm can do anything, since it can’t see or hear or think. Probably a bad time to tell them that they were wrong about the entire mind/body division of labor they based all their beliefs on, so let it be a mystery while they stare at a headless, limbless torso worming its way toward them…
How did we learn all this? The knowledge has developed over the past 200 years, with practitioners in Switzerland, France, New England and Louisiana making the most significant breakthroughs. We’ve been lucky enough to have a few amazingly brilliant families of researchers work with us, and naturally we’re pleased to have done a little piggybacking off the Necromancers’ data. But you mustn’t think we’re all about Tesla or his successors the way the Necromancers are. We have entirely other traditions of knowledge we call upon; things they’d call “naïve” or “simplistic” because they can’t help over-thinking the obvious.
One thing you can count on with us: We don’t believe in waste. We’re very green and recycling is basically our raison d’etre. Unless a part of us is utterly useless, and that’s fairly rare, we will either keep it or donate it to another of us. In fact, many of us are really the result of one good brain being attached to a lot of gently used parts donated from just about every place. This certainly doesn’t make our opponents very happy, since they are frequently involuntary donors. But it does go a long way toward explaining why so many of us bring bone saws and preservation kits to back alley fights.
Now that I’ve told you all this, you should relax about the whole “brain in a jar” thing. It’s not that bad, especially when you learn how to project your consciousness outside your flesh. Let’s get started on that, and then you can help me pick out the segments for you new body. You want to stay the gender you were before we recruited you? Not a problem. You can always change anything you want later.
Revenants are the very antithesis of what humans call “chaos.” They bring together disparate components in a symphony of lifelike supernatural behavior. They are no less created than a human or any other being, but they always have a whiff of the cemetery or the laboratory about them. If everything has the potential for its opposite within itself, as the Adepts argue, then Revenants are the inverse of death, inertia and chaos—they want more life, and they want to plan and build.
Revenants are creatures of extremes. Most are quite physically powerful, but a few are feeble and nearly inert—nothing in between. Most are also smart, adaptable thinkers with enormous practical cunning, while some are mindless brutes—again, the division is all-encompassing.
They are capable of any emotion a living human might have, but they are always aware of the nature and source of their feelings, and never lose sight of their practical effects. If a Revenant falls in love and their loved one dies permanently, they may go berserk or pine for years, but they will never really be out of control. There will always be a cool, detached part of their personality hovering in their mind, quietly analyzing their own behavior and actions.
They consume as many forms of energy as their physical and spiritual nature permits. Unlike a Vampire, which craves blood, the Revenant could potentially plug themselves into a wall socket or drain someone of their passionate love or eat human flesh or any other way of fueling the immortal engine of Revenant existence. They are dynamos with minds and hearts and they “play hard and work hard.” Even their rest is total and overwhelming: They never slumber when they can simply be “dead.”
Revenants will readily enter into alliances with almost any other faction, but such alliances are always a matter of utility. These creatures are deeply pragmatic. You might work alongside them for decades or centuries before discovering that no matter how much they may like you, they still have to destroy you to fulfill their own goals. It’s nothing personal. They might even regret it.
They’re really everywhere, aren’t they? They are indisputably the McMonster of the Century, and you can hardly walk down the street without seeing one wink at you and show off their fangs and fancy clothing. It’s very easy to “impersonate” one (by attaching aspects of them to yourself) if you feel like it, but you barely need to: They don’t ask very many questions if you’re pale and ingest blood. (Some of us do that, too, just a little differently. Hypodermics and transfusions are more hygienic and pleasant than biting and sucking.) There are all sorts of Vampires, and some are good to be around while others are awful. You’ll have to decide about them for yourself on a case-by-case basis.
They’re actually very nice people in a lot of ways. Combining the aspects of a living human with a Vampire human is a really cool baby step toward our way of thinking and being. They could do better, of course, but it proves their minds are open about how things work. Also, they’re really good tissue and energy donors for us.
These are good people staying up past their bedtime. We can help them return to the world of matter and energy if they’re willing to work with us. A few already have. We’re never going to be the enemies of the ghostly legions that still tread the unseen paths.
To begin with, they’re an insult to every decent practitioner of syncretic modern mystery religions. To continue, they’re ghoulish scumbags who deliberately play on everyone’s prejudices and phobias in an effort to literally make us all worse people so they can rule the world. To conclude, they’re a lot of fun to torture and kill.
No, no, no, no. Nothing but trouble here. It doesn’t matter what they’re summoning, we just have to throw them through their little dimensional portals to their drooling “masters” so they can enjoy themselves together.
DADDY! But seriously, a lot of what we are comes from ideas generated by this bunch of sexist, aging, perverted, demented, necrophiliac degenerates. So it’s a sort of love-hate relationship. That said, we tend to wake up on their operating tables and automatically start dismembering and killing them, so it’s probably a bit more hate than love.
It has been argued that the earliest Revenants were Slayers resurrected from the dead by Necromancers, but you might as well argue that your next breath was only extracted from the outgassings of fresh clover and a little touch of poet-speech. We come “from all over.” Slayers find us appalling and frightening, so we defend ourselves. That’s really all there is to that.
The Lunar Covenant
Their motto seems to be “just kill it” if they can’t find a use for something. That’s admirably pragmatic, and since we really don’t need them hijacking our reproductive systems for their (insert eyeroll here) “reincarnation cycle,” we generally apply it to them if our paths cross. Their Myrmidons are a little more sensible than the Covenant itself, though, and the random Werewolf marauder can sometimes be a good ally for a little while.
Moony, swoony woo peddlers. They can’t ask directions to the bus stop without either blathering about the moon and tides and the balance of the universe or going into a tirade about their INCREDIBLE MAGICKAL POWER AND HOW THEY WILL SORCER YOU INTO OBLIVION. If you can find a use for them aside from spare parts, please tell the rest of us.
They can’t be assimilated. They have some strange, obscure death-ritual among themselves that is really all that interests them. You can ally yourself with them or oppose them, but the bottom line is that if you’re not part of their insane and deadly game by choice, they’ll try to add you to it as a pawn. Avoid them if you possibly can.
The Djinn and the Messengers
God isn’t dead, because he’s entirely fictional, but you’ll never convince these violent, obsessive, biased and altogether unreasonable creatures of that. The only thing worse than getting caught in the middle of their endless and pointless war would be to try and learn what they’re fighting about. “Death by ideological speech-making” is a very real thing.
The Lords of the Ukhu Pachu
Surprisingly reasonable once you get past their love of pageantry and self-importance. They have a deeply ingrained love of physical and mental modification and a refreshing sense of pragmatism, which makes them a pleasure to deal with at times. There are actually a few remnants left of a parallel society in the ancient Near East, but those cloth-wrapped warrior-scholars have always been more interested in our way of doing things than the somewhat ossified Princes of the Deep Darkness. Nevertheless, we Revenants have yet to meet a mummified lich or a walker from the bogs or glaciers that we didn’t feel a friendly kinship toward.
The Time Engineers and the Benevolent Society
Of all the other “supernatural factions,” only one is our truly implacable foe: The Time Engineers and their detestable allies in The Benevolent Society. The Benevolent Society are old-fashioned nightmare spirits with no real idea what the world has become since they first appeared in old bogeyman stories. The Time Engineers are much worse. We suspect they want to shape the world’s future as much as we do, or more. There isn’t room for their slick, corporate-looking techno-future alongside our more organic, DIY, deterministic plans for the Earth. We can’t even make use of their freakishly advanced tech… it dissolves into smoke when they die, just as they vanish like a fever dream.
The Dream Masters
Furtive, frightening visions from outside of sanity. They’re even worse than the Time Engineers, if you can believe it. They aren’t going to wait for any future; they want a new world now, and they don’t need to be Cultists to attain it.