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by Josh Temple

Disclaimers at the end.

Foreword: A slight warning. It is advisable to read this only after you have read chapter six. Go now and read it. A big part of the early chapters was to find out just what the Company was and this would ruin it. This text is simply to put the Company in context.


Interlude One: A Brief History of the Company


It began in a small logging town in Shepard's Creek, New Hampshire. The local sawmills and most of the timberlands were owned by the Willard family. In 1840, the wife of the head of the Willard family, Susan Willard, bore a son, Johan.

It became apparent that young Johan was unwilling to takeover his father's company. With some reluctance, Stanley allowed his eldest son to attend university in Boston. It was there that he studied physics and mechanics, and it was there in 1861 that he enlisted in the Union Army.

Because of his education, Johan was sent to the artillery corps to calculate range books for cannons and mortars. There were collections of tables that allowed artillery-men to figure out the angle of elevation and powder charge needed to lob a shell of a specific weight a specific distance. Although once the books were completed, Johan's unit was moved closer to the front as to inspect cannons for damage and wear, and repair their carriages, wheels, and firing mechanisms if damaged. If the barrel itself got damaged they would simply send it to be melted down into a new one.

It was May of 1865, the war had been won. Johan and his unit had returned to Boston. At the time, a flu was sweeping through the city. Johan managed to catch a rather bad case of it.

Bedridden with the illness at a friend's house, Johan managed to read an article about a perplexing disappearance in the woods of New Hampshire. A team of loggers returning to Shepard's Creek found a deserted village. Local police have no idea what happened to the two-hundred-plus residents. They found no bodies, and only small amounts of blood and other stranger fluids of unknown, yet organic, descent. The police also found a large number of bullet holes and strange notes scrawled in journals and on walls.

As Johan recovered from his illness, he did nothing other than study the investigation. Using his status as the only Willard not missing, he had daily correspondence with the constable in charge and a local doctor that had been called up for when — if — the townsfolk were found.

Eventually, the story died down and was forgotten by the newspapers. By that time, Johan had recovered and was exploring his hometown with the help of friends from his time in the army and at university.

As the sole heir to Willard Timber, Johan was more than able to fund his investigation. Heeding the advice of the locals, they only went into the town during the daylight and always in groups of no less than six people, all heavily armed. The search that these soldiers and scientists conducted was the most thorough and in-depth forensic study to date. Their notes, photographs, and samples are still kept in the Company archives.

Eventually, they found a trail leading from the town to a series of caverns. There, Johan and the others found the bones of over a dozen people. As they conducted the examination of the cave, they found a series of tunnels leading further down beneath the earth. Night began to approach, so the team left and went back to their base camp.

It had become obvious that something had eaten the residents of Shepard's Creek. During their investigation, Johan and his associates had interviewed locals as to what had happened. There were also the strange bloods and fluids that had been left in the town, still being analyzed in the laboratory, not to mention the scrawled note referring to "a skittering, membranous, furred lobster" and "a mass of hissing lumpy oil". They knew that they were facing some sort of hideous beast or beasts.

The next day, Johan decided to arm his men with grenades, revolvers and several Sharps Rifles, to explore the cave tunnels. All the men going into the tunnels had been soldiers, seeing the indescribable horrors of the War Between the States. Johan had also brought a cartload of nitroglycerin and black powder and left some at the mouth of the cavern. He would have used dynamite, but that would not be invented for another year. The rest was brought with the exploration team. He had told the men he had left up top to blow up the cave if anything… unusual tried to escape.

Their torches lead them deeper into the cavern until they found a… nest, for lack of a better word. It was a large circular chamber that looked to be filled with a brackish sludge. The surface was doted with dozens of large white ovals. Johan remarked later that the pods resembled giant five foot strands of rice and seemed strangely animate as they floated.

It is not clear as to what happened next, but it is known that Johan and his men saw something emerge from within its vile concavity. Later on, no one could give a clear recollection as to what had risen out of that pool of muck and ooze, except for a vague anthropoid-like shape, and more importantly, a sense of wrongness; that this was a thing-that-should-not-be.

Two of Johan’s men opened fire. The fifty-two-caliber bullets from their rifles tore through the creature’s thick head carapace, which issued a thick ichor eerily similar to the substance that the monster had wallowed in.

The men fled from the monstrosity, waiting only long enough to drop their black powder charges and ignite their fuses. Two of Johan's team fell, their screams slowly degenerating into gurgles and crunches. As they ran out of the cave, Johan had his topside men trigger the charges.

The rocky knob that served as the entrance to the cave collapsed in on itself in a shattering implosion that formed an oblong cavity. Johan and his friends had their weapons at the ready waiting for the thing to emerge. The strange ichor did ooze up into the cavity, which was then doused in a mixture of oil and gunpowder and set ablaze.

It was looking into this smoldering pit, hearing the alien screeches of the dying thing, that Johan and his friends made an oath. Never Again. They did not know the extent of what they faced. They did not understand exactly what they were up against. But they knew they had to fight.

In their research on the Shepard's Creek massacre, they had found stories of other missing towns, whole convoys vanishing, piles of mysterious bones, and other such silent horrors. It was more than could have been explained by Indian attack, battle, or people simply getting lost. There was a distinct force that was preying on humanity, and these soldiers and scientists had stumbled onto it.

For two weeks, they continued the examination of the area. After that, they returned to Boston and continued their research. Friends wrote to friends and quiet inquiries were made. Arms, tools, and scientific instruments were slowly purchased as Johan's organization grew and took shape.

Then in 1870, five years after the expedition to Shepard's Creek, the Willard Investigative Company opened its doors. Like the Pinkerton Detective Agency, WIC — or the Company, as it is still called today — consisted of teams of private investigators hired out to businesses, municipalities, or citizens.

Unlike the twenty-year-old Pinkerton investigators, the Company specialized in missing persons cases, specifically those of unusual circumstance or number. The Company also prided itself on having the latest in technology to assist its investigations. They were among the first to use electric lights, audio recorders, radios, and motion cameras, not to mention the advances in armaments over the years.

One would like to hope that the Company held up its oath, that the intrepid teams of scientist-warriors met their foes and dispatched them while saving innocent lives. The truth is that all too often, brave teams of men willing to give their lives for this cause… did. In the archives, there are scores of failed missions. Ones where every single man sent out was killed.

When asked of the risks his men took, Johan, by now in his fifties, said that every creature that mutilated, raped, or killed humans, that was destroyed made the nation that much safer, that every cult of degenerates that worshiped these twisted beings that was broken up and dispatched, and that every piece of information gathered, made up for every death, widow, and orphan created when men did not return.

Throughout the first forty years of its existence, the Company was purely a reactive force. It would only come to a town after people started to go missing or when the unspeakably mutilated bodies began to show up. Only after people started to die would the Company come to town in one of its train-mounted mobile headquarters and laboratories.

Towards the middle of the second decade of the twentieth century, Company leadership decided to take a more informative role in their job. It was felt that the truth would be too destructive. There was a belief that the public would become irrevocably paranoid at the knowledge of what lurks in the shadows. There was also the opinion that if humanity were to openly hunt its opposition, the horrors would respond in kind.

Yet they still wanted to inform the public, to warn those that would listen about what could happen, to distribute the warning signs of a dangerous situation, and to tell others what they could do in the event of finding such a situation.

The Company found a promising writer, a young man familiar with the fledgling horror genre. An author with the ability to descriptively and rationally describe horrific monstrosities.

The thirty-six-year-old Rhode Islander was intrigued by the trio of detectives that had entered his house, the eldest flipping through admirably complete collections of The Scientific Gazette and The Rhode Island Journal of Astronomy. Both hectographed journals had been produced in his childhood and had been only released to his friends. The detective also had copies of manuscripts, only one of which had been published; the rest of them had been sent to the writer's friends in correspondence.

His indignation at having his privacy violated was tempered by his curiosity. Who were these men, and why did they seem so impressed and professional with his stories, especially The Alchemist, The Mystery of the Graveyard, and The Beast in the Cave? Reaching into his briefcase, the senior detective pulled out what looked to be several bound journals and handed them to the young New Englander. The writer took them and started to read. When he finished, he looked up at the grim faces of the three detectives and uttered six words: "I think I can help you."

It is of interest to note that in 1917, H.P. Lovecraft changed not only the frequency of his writing, but the style as well. What had been fragmentary collections of paragraph-sized chapters like The Mysterious Ship or The Mystery of the Graveyard, or equally short collections of thick paragraphs as in The Little Glass Bottle or The Secret Cave, suddenly changed.

Some who study Lovecraft's works would account this to his developing skills in his craft, such his increasing potency in his use of a personal log style of writing. He managed to convey horror not by simply stating the supernatural, but by having rational, learned people confront things from beyond the normal scope of man.

Critical to this was a sense of reality, an impression that these impossible events and creatures were actually happening. It would seem that Lovecraft excelled at the suspension of disbelief, a quality all the more necessary given his unusual subject matter.

There are some who have suspicions as to the sources of his material. There are those who will say that while there never was a Red Hook in New York City, there was an eerily similar cult in South Boston.

There is also the matter of Innsmouth, Massachusetts. Lovecraft writes of a "strange and secret" government investigation of the town in the winter of 1927-1928. While it is true that there never was a federal intervention of that nature in the town's history, and equally true that said winter was quite uneventful, the spring of 1914 was another matter entirely.

Municipal records account for a series of surprisingly large fees paid out to an undisclosed investigative company. Local papers of the time also record of strangely disfigured bodies washing onto shore and being caught in fishermen's nets, not to mention strange explosions emanating to the north of the town.

It is also true that many of the dread tomes he wrote of were purely fiction, books such as The Eltdown Shards, The Necronomicon, and The Pnakotic Manuscripts. However several of the tomes he wrote about can actually be found in certain universities and museums such as De Vermis Mysteriis by Ludvig Prinn, Nameless Cults by Friedrich von Junzt, and Kryptographik by Johan Ludwig Kluber.

Those of a rational bent will look at these and several other cases and simply point to coincidence and dedicated research on Lovecraft's part. However, there are others who believe that Lovecraft's own interest and research in these events are not enough to account for the depth of his knowledge. These people enjoy pointing to arcane references made in Lovecraft's notes consisting of lists of three digit numbers, some of which consisted of five blocks.

Of the meeting that took place in the spring of 1926, there is no mention, although the exact contents of that meeting could explain much. According to Company records, the young author needed little encouragement. He seemed delighted with this new source of information, and used it to its fullest. The security procedures were not a problem either. Many of the event reports Lovecraft read were too dry or fragmentary to make entertaining short stories. A good part of them were too gruesome even for Weird Tales, his preferred publication. But the accounts did make an excellent point to start from.

He seemed to think it a great jest to exchange elements of his "mythos" with those of other authors. It was quite easy make a reference to a character or item that another writer had mentioned before, and another connection was made, interlinking a great body of work. Lovecraft entertained, asking what assistance his contemporaries received in their writing, but always abstained, fearful of what the quiet, grim Company men would do if he violated their agreement.

When Lovecraft passed on in 1937, no attempt was made by the Company to replace him with another author. Lovecraft's creations still enjoyed their popularly, and often obscurity. In the years following the author's death, the Company instead relied on rumors and reports that they themselves leaked as a form of specially tailored misinformation.

For the first seventy years of its existence, the Company had roughly the same methodology. Its investigators continued to use the latest in technology and weaponry. The Thompson submachinegun and the Mills bomb, invented in 1915. That was the first safe (for the person throwing it) handgrenade, and proved to be exceedingly useful.

More importantly, however, developments in electrical machines, optics, photography, and biology allowed for the first comprehensive cataloging system of various enemy forces — the precursor of the current Pattern Identification System. This version required over six hundred pounds of equipment and a team of four technicians, and had only a sixty percent accuracy.

The Company investigators in their charcoal suits resembled federal agents more than anything else. Being mistaken for the G-men was something Company investigators were always willing to use to their advantage.

Then the Second World War began to heat up. In its official capacity, the Company had little involvement in the Great War, some years previous. Some investigators were sent to France on the rumors of Pattern Z's being loose in the trenches. The rumors of the Huns using undead warriors were just that.

The Nazis were another matter. Hitler's interest in the occult was matter of public record. He sent troops on missions to the Holy Land looking for the Chalice of Christ, the Lance of Longinus, and pieces of the True Cross. He also invested time researching German mysticism to lend credence to his eugenics, and Aryan supremacy. For a time he employed astrologers to prophesize the strength and victories of his Thousand Year Reich, until he had them all killed for practicing the newly illegal, subversive, and Zionist trade of astrology.

What was not known, what had been kept secret for over sixty years — more closely than the German Nuclear Program and how near they were to having the Bomb — more than Japan's Unit 731, a biological warfare research facility in occupied Manchuria that killed nearly a quarter of a million Chinese….

If the war had been prolonged a little bit longer, Germany could have had nuclear-tipped V2's, and the U-boats to launch them, Japan could have used its submersible mini-carriers to launch biological attacks on the cities of the American west coast.

Having Allied cities infected, irradiated, and vaporized was not the highest of risks. More importantly were certain treaties being signed by the Axis powers. Top spies in Germany had brought back information of certain alliances being made, rumors of pacts between the Nazis and… other powers.

The War Department knew of one organization with the experience to help them deal with this threat. The Company signed a contract with the United States military to provide "consulting on matters pertaining to specific enemy activities, to be defined as necessary, for the duration of the war".

The Company trained investigative teams. It was here that the Company changed from styling itself as a private investigative company to a paramilitary organization. They had contact with the British Special Air Service, the American Ranger battalions, the Office of Strategic Services, and other such organizations.

The war progressed and Allied Command deployed the Company-trained Army Special Investigative units with greater frequency, until the fall of 1943, when "activities of note" among the Germans decreased to nearly nothing. This is not to say the ASI units were idle.

As territory was liberated, the scale of Nazi atrocities became all to clear. The deathcamps were opened, the laboratories were shown, the endless piles of cataloged body parts were recorded, but not everything was shown to the public. One such discovery, that to this day remains hidden in an Army archive, is a cache of film canisters hidden in a root cellar found near the German-Austrian border. They contain several hundred hours of footage of Nazi super-soldier experiments. It was their plan to create a hybrid species using transfusions and transplants.

The success of these experiments was well known to the ASI troopers; most had either fought or been called upon to catalog and dissect German soldiers of "unusual tenacity and constitution".

As the war closed, the ASI units got the attention of their allies in Soviet Russia. Stalin had formed the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) in 1936. It was based on an older organization, the OGPU. The NKVD were the secret police. They answered only to Stalin himself, and had no obligation to obey any standing civil laws. This was the tool Stalin used for his purges of political opponents, mass arrests, and the elimination or exile of undesirables.

The USSR was, and Russia still is, an immensely large country. It is mostly wilderness and there are vast tracts of land to the east that are still unexplored. It is a place where obscene numbers of people disappear frequently, and bodies are found with less frequency. Upon learning of fascist relation with certain entities, Stalin, in his classic paranoia, feared the subversion of such entities in his country.

A special department of the NKVD was created one to "combat those that seek to undermine the state and destroy the people, regardless of their form and origin". They were not created to hide themselves from the public or control information. The Soviet government had enough of that. This department was made to maintain the secret from other government agencies and to form one cohesive force specially trained to deal with the threat. They would identify and eliminate any suspicion activity, and eliminate anybody at risk of contamination. It was at their orders that farms were set on fire, towns shelled by artillery, and whole swaths of land reduced to a moonscape. When the NKVD was succeeded by the Committee for State Security (KGB) in 1946, this department made a smooth transition and had a permanent place among the "Sword and Shield of the Party".

The war was over, but the enemy that the Company fought was still there. The military reduced its size, discharged men, and dismantled much of its armor, ships, and planes. Most former ASI soldiers were approached by Company recruiters. They were offered a job where they could apply the skills they had learned. A very sizable fraction accepted. Coupled with the generous fees they had collected during the war and the military surplus that allowed them to supply and equip these new personnel, the Company dramatically increased its power and influence, tripling the number of personnel and doubling the number of bases.

Renaming itself "Willard International Consulting", the Company became one of countless American firms that worked in the occupied countries, helping with the reconstruction. It was then that the Company moved its headquarters from western Massachusetts to what would later become the first Operations Center in the outskirts of Topeka, Kansas.

The Company also changed its overt method of operation. Ostensibly an international consulting firm, WIC called itself a government-funded think-tank and defense contractor. It was a fitting cover. What better way to explain the special relationship the Company had with the US military than to be working for them?

To the general public, WIC was just another Northrop, Boeing, Harris, or Lockheed-Martin. They were just one that specialized in integrating systems for military use. It was WIC that developed the earliest methods for helicopter strategy and how to combine their abilities with existing military hardware.

As a military contractor, it was expected for the Company to have a working relationship with not only the military, but also with certain intelligence agencies. The secrecy their organization and employees operated under was also expected.

This is not to say that the secret of the Company was never leaked. That would be impossible, given the size and age of the organization. Ever since the latter quarter of the nineteenth century, roughly every decade or so some enterprising reporter broke the story of the Company.

The newsman would tell a riveting story of mysterious agents that worked in for an agency that had no governmental oversight. He would always mention the focused, almost robotic agents this organization had, who, depending on the time period, wore grey suits, black dusters and fedoras, green mottled fatigues, black-on-black suits, business casual wear, or black-and-gray counter-terrorism ninja suits.

The reason none of these stories became earth-shattering was how they could never bridge the gap between being obscure and boring and outlandish and simply unbelievable. The reporter either had a story on a military contractor that was conducting operations with the military in a vaguely illegal way, or a secretive paramilitary organization that had spent many, many years fighting eldritch horrors.

The most credible story breaking the Company's true purpose sourced a full hour of video footage that was shot on October 12th of 1973. This tape contained footage of Company agents eliminating a group of Pattern L's. Unfortunately for the news team that had made the tape, they had questionable credibility going into this, and the media elites doubted the tape's authenticity.

People in journalism have a sense that they understand how the world really works, and when something shows up that challenges their views, they deny its existence or try to discredit the source. This is not just restricted to the paranormal.

Several networks did play the tape. It made for good copy. It had plenty of action and blood, and since it was not "real", there was less concern about its highly graphic nature. Instead of concentrating on what was on the tape, the media tried to find out what film studio was responsible for making this "action sequence". The networks eventually concluded that it was a publicity stunt pulled by a new special effects company that was trying to sell its name.

It did not matter that this answer made little sense. The name of the special effects company was never mentioned, no company was mentioned, the uniforms of the soldiers bore no logos… and no one took credit for the footage on the tape.

It was still an answer, one that the media thought was simple and easy enough for their viewers to grasp. Copies of this tape are still in circulation. In the end, the media's complacency, bias, and a refusal to acknowledge the existence of certain creatures was what protected the Company.

This is not to say that a sufficiently public event would not break the secret. If a large attack conducted by clearly inhuman entities were to be captured by a news team and broadcast live, the secret would be out. It might just be the secret of paranormal invaders fighting against humanity. That Willard International Consulting was one of the leading organizations that combated these things might not break out. An enterprising reporter could correlate the locations that WIC was active in with areas where paramilitary forces had fought such monsters.

In the event of public knowledge of Pattern Registering Entities and the various human cults that supported them, the Company would be more concerned with the opposition's reaction than their own cover. With their secrecy gone, certain opposition elements might decide to declare an open war on humanity.

A sudden and worldwide surge in nonhuman activity is one of several scenarios that the Company has developed contingency plans for. This was one of the main reasons that WIC had cultivated a close relationship with not just the United States military, but other organizations as well.

Much like its training of Army Special Investigative teams during the Second World War, the Company is currently involved in providing information, training, and weapons designs to conventional military forces.

One of the most critical devices the Company sells and licenses out are their pattern scanners. These devices are the culmination of decades and decades of data taken on thousands of missions.

Their most popular model is the Nordstar series personal mount that is under five pounds and has a headset-mounted viewing picture. The Company also has their Ostar series of vehicle- and base-mount long-range scanners. This technology is only sold to the governments and organizations that the Company has had a long standing and friendly relationship with. However if the need arose, such devices could easily be mass-produced.

Recently, the Company has given a small number of their interdimensional jammers to an Air Force working group. The threat posed to an extremely mobile enemy was described in a RAND Corporation, WIC, and NORAD study entitled: Reactions and Countermeasures to Multiple-Point Invasion of Unusual Means and Penetration. For brevity this study was referred to as "Rack Pump".

Like many papers of its kind, such as those detailing the appropriate US response after a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union, it was mostly speculation and some educated guesses. Naturally, WIC provided the hard evidence and potential technology for the report, the NORAD team observed the problem from a Command and Control Perspective, and the RAND team developed a way to implement the planned system.

Behind the jargon, Rack Pump was simply the US response to a coordinated attack perpetrated by an enemy with access to teleportation, or some other ability which allowed them to bypass conventional defenses.

Currently, the Company maintains its stance war against various enemies of humanity. Among the private organizations and government agencies that share the same field as Willard International Consulting, there is a sense of urgency. Sightings of and crimes committed by Pattern Registering Entities was on the rise, and membership in cults that assist them has also increased.

Theories as to what this means are diverse, and often conflicting. The general consensus is that the opposition has gotten sick of being hunted and executed by mere humans and that they are planning a massive counterattack. Whatever it is, the Company is the organization best equipped to handle it.

Preparations are underway. This includes the construction of a new facility in the Toronto metropolitan area, attempts to expand alliances, and increasing the number of archaeological digs conducted on early-human and pre-human civilizations. Willard International Consulting will go to any length to ensure that humanity is not destroyed.

 


Disclaimer: Willard International Consulting is my own creation. However within its history, methodology, and culture are nods to several other sources. Of historical note are a few novels written by Dean Koontz (think of what happened in Shepard's Creek), the creative works and life of H.P. Lovecraft, and a few books by Steven King.

Inspiration for the Company itself comes from numerous places: Tom Clancy's "Rainbow" organization, NERV, MIB, the Hellsing Institute, the Centre, The Shop from Firestarter, and Stargate Command.

Prereaders for this were Wray, Joe Fenton, and Jakub.

Chapter 7
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