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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Special christmas treat that no one wants

53

So anyway, where was I? Ah yes, the Blue Cherry bar, an establishment that exists beyond the fringes of reality, and where all the drinks are blue (but not, as far as I can tell, made from cherries. Go figure).

We have two individuals, Miss Molly Nemoy and the good Professor Roerich. They were talking of Atibon, which I was not pleased about, to say the least. Roerich needs to learn some decorum.

The rain poured, and the streets were mere streaks of light and speed. Under the glow of neon, Molly shook her head and sighed.

“I have no idea what that means. Who is Atibon?”

Roerich looked doubtful for a moment. The door opened behind them, and a hooded figure entered the bar and sat down at an empty table. Roerich flicked a glance towards this new arrival, and then cleared his throat. He smiled a big fake smile, and leant his head towards Molly with his eyes set firmly on the seated figure.

“Time is short,” he whispered, his face contorting with panic. “You cannot stay here much longer.”

Molly started to laugh, but stopped when she saw the genuine fear in his eyes. “I don’t understand…”

“That’s okay, you don’t have to. Remember, you are the third of three-“

“Oh, not you as well!”

Another worried glance. “Something’s going to happen. A war, or…I don’t know. But only you can stop it. The fate of reality depends upon it.”

The room began to fade, and the Professor’s image became transparent like a ghost or a hologram.

“What?? How can I stop a war??”

The world was turning black. The lingering memory of Johan Roerich, now an almost invisible spectre, whispered, “You must find Albert Louverture before the Day of the Dead. You must get to Circe’s island…”

“What? How am I supposed to do that?”

“By airship…”

And he was gone. Molly blinked, and was back in her room, in front of her glowing computer screen. She reached out and experimentally touched the desk, finding it to be as solid and real as ever. The screen was a lifeless blue. Molly stared at it for a few seconds, before getting up and walking to the kitchen. She opened a cupboard, and took out a packet of pills. She popped one into her mouth, and sighed.

“I should really start taking these more regularly now that I've got a war to stop.”

---​

Morning came, as rosy and cheerful as ever. Molly had not slept. Her eyes were sore, and her mind was addled. The light streamed into the room, and the moon was gone, and the sun tempered by the moderating hand of dawn. Molly's eyes started to itch. She rubbed them hard, and they became even more sore.

Without thinking anything in particular, she went to the computer and, still not thinking anything clearly, entered "Marissa Yaroslavich" into the search, and clicked the first link that came up, that of the Archaeology department at the University of Port-au-Prince. A picture appeared of a group of people, in the middle of which was a woman with a face that Molly recognised all to well; that of business tycoon and new Prime Minister of Haiti, Selena Eryx, only...not. After taking a deep gulp, Molly muttered under her breath,

"Oh."
 

Enewald

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Remember the pills, remember the pills.
Always remember the pills.
 

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In response to the 'Christmas treat that no one wants', here's the response that no-one cares for. :p

Three months have come and gone since the last update, so pardon me for a rusty memory... Isn't Selena inhabiting the body of the poor woman-transformed-into-a-bird-and-back-again (can't remember her name right now - was it the aforementioned Marissa?) who was trapped by Circe? Does Molly know her?

Merry Christmas, by the way, and thanks for your continued commitment to this tale. :)
 

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Remember the pills, remember the pills.
Always remember the pills.

It's generally best not to forget.

In response to the 'Christmas treat that no one wants', here's the response that no-one cares for. :p

Three months have come and gone since the last update, so pardon me for a rusty memory... Isn't Selena inhabiting the body of the poor woman-transformed-into-a-bird-and-back-again (can't remember her name right now - was it the aforementioned Marissa?) who was trapped by Circe? Does Molly know her?

Merry Christmas, by the way, and thanks for your continued commitment to this tale. :)

Selena (who is now apparently Prime Minister!) is indeed occupying Marissa's body. Molly knows of her name through Stephan (and more recently Roerich) mentioning her. Anney, on the other hand, thinks that Marissa is still a parrot being held captive on Circe's island, so is at some point in for a nasty surprise...
 

Fiftypence

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Thus concludes the second of three

54

Anney knelt, her eyes fixed upon the key with the ouroboros that she gripped tightly in her hand. The air was warm, and the cemetery was empty. Before her stood a simple tombstone, it’s epitaph so worn and faded so as to be unreadable, the name of the man who lay there lost to the ages, forgotten and gone.

“I remember,” Anney said quietly. “I’ve said it a million times before, but I am sorry Joseph.” She looked from side to side, feeling somewhat foolish and self-conscious, but she had no need to. No one came here anymore. She laughed softly. “What could I have done? Live and stay young and watch as you and the children grew old and-“

She stopped and gulped, and took a deep breath. She pushed the key into one of her numerous pockets, and stood. She had only left New Orleans yesterday, but it felt like such a long time. Coming back to South Carolina always did that. Normally the days passed like a blur, but suddenly time slowed down and distorted the closer Anney came, like the warping effect of a black hole. She had driven to the harbour, and was somewhat unsurprised to see the Impossible waiting for her. No ship could make that kind of speed, especially with no wind and no crew, but then, it wasn’t called the Impossible for nothing.

“I shoulda listened to you, Joseph. I admit, I was wrong. But still, it coulda been worse, at least I didn’t end up like Jack…”

---​

Circe gazed into her mirror. She smiled, and said, “My sister is coming. I can feel it. It’s been such a long time.” She put down the mirror and picked up her dagger, and stroked the blade with the tip of her index finger. “Such a long, long time.”

---
By airship…

Ding dong!

Molly woke with a start. She rubbed her eyes, and gazed at the ceiling. She wasn’t entirely sure, but she felt quite sure that the doorbell had just rung. If she hadn’t been sure before, another Ding Dong! confirmed her suspicions.

Groggily she answered the door. She half-smiled at the sight of the visitor, and said, “Oh, it’s you. Long time no see.”

Anney grinned. “How’s it going, Molly?”

---​

Ship, ship, is it a ship I don’t know. Water, need water. Oh god, I’m hallucinating, it’s a mirage, a cruel trick of the sea. Ghost ship! Ghost ship! It’s a wreck, I’m going to die on this island. My name is Pierre Legrand, and I’m going to die…

A shadow looms, and water touches parched lips.

“Hey, whatcha doin’ on this island??”

Pierre’s eyes opened slightly, and saw a pirate looking down at him with a mixture of concern and intrigue. He blinked, and laughed.

“Oh god, I’m gone, I’m gone, so far awaaaaay…”

Anney knelt, and wiped his brow. “Oh wow, you are burning up! The heat musta made him seriously loopy…come on fella, I’ll take ya back to civilisation if you like.”

There was no response, so Anney assumed he had simply passed out. She dragged him to the ship, and left him in one of the cabins, beside the treasure chest.

---​

“So, Pierre is alive?”

Anney nodded. “He was in a bad way, but in time recovered and became intelligible. He told me to come and tell you that he was okay. I did kinda hint that I had other plans, but he insisted that it was important and I figured I had enough time to make the diversion, so here I am!”

Molly nodded, somewhat stunned at this sudden news. “But where is Pierre? Why didn’t he come and see me in person?”

Anney shrugged. “He said he had important business. I dunno, I personally think there was something missing before he got delirious, if you know what I mean. There’s something dang odd about that man, like he’s in a world of his own.”

“Oh. Right.” Molly scratched her head, and stared at Anney. “So let me get this straight. You got knocked out, and woke up in the house of some old man…”

“Pebble.”

“Pebble, right. Then you’re on some island, and this strange angel gives you a ship and then you dress as a pirate and sail the seven seas and find Pierre on some random island.”

Anney cleared her throat. “Uh yeah, that’s right.” Mostly, Anney thought, with a pang of guilt. A few details missing here and there never hurt anyone, right?

Molly shook her head. “Sorry, it all just seems a bit unlikely…” She stopped, and realised what she was saying. She then proceeded to burst into a fit of laughter. “You really couldn’t make this stuff up. So, quite an adventure you’ve had….” Molly grinned. “Still, nothing compared to mine.”

---​

The Impossible swayed gently as it traversed calm seas.

"You're Pierre Legrand??!"

Pierre nodded in bemusement. "Uh, yeah. Why d'you say it like that?"

Anney shrugged as nonchalantly as she could manage. "No reason. Ya name just seems familiar is all."

Much too familiar, Anney thought. Shit.

---​

Pierre gazed around his apartment. It felt strange, being home. He was greeted by his cat Eco with a hiss, as if to say, “You abandoned me, you’re in a lot of trouble, mister.” All was forgiven in an instant, as Eco tucked into a big bowl of food. Pierre smiled, and looked out of the window. The Hall of Records looked back, and Pierre knew something was wrong.

“A hundred years,” he said. “A hundred years.” Some new aspect of his being had been revealed to himself on that island, an aspect that allowed a glimpse beyond what most people could see. The reflective, interconnected nature of reality had become obvious, and he finally saw what had been there all along. He went to his computer, with the intention of catching up on his e-mails and the hope that there might be some word from Marissa, but stopped dead when he saw a scrap of paper, resting on the keyboard. It read,

It is called

"The Great Mystery of Haitian History - An inquiry into the missing century by Albert Louverture, historian, scientist and ‘pataphysician."

Look in Row 27, The Secret Vault. Be careful! x​

---

“…so then this Professor told me that I had to get to this Circe’s island by airship! I’m now completely stuck, and have completely no idea what I’m meant to do.”

Anney nodded, feeling a heaviness in the pit of her stomach. “You wanna go to Circe’s island?”

“Well yeah, that’s what I just said.” Molly narrowed her eyes. “Why, what do you know about it?”

“I know that it’s a fool’s errand!”

“What, how?”

“Because!” Anney sighed in exasperation. “It just is. Trust me on this, Molly, you do not want to go near that crazy bitch and her bizarro island!”

“You didn’t mention anything about Circe before,” Molly said quietly. “Why not?”

“I dunno, I…just didn’t, all right. Anyway, I’m tellin’ you now, so quit it.”

“I don’t have a choice, Anney. I have to go. Just answer me honestly, have you been to Circe’s island?”

Anney frowned a deep frown. “Yes.”

Molly nodded. “Great. Then you should have no problems finding it again.”

“Oh no, no way. I ain’t goin’ anywhere near that place again! Anyway, I’ve got business of my own to attend to, I’ve wasted enough time already…”

“Well then,” Molly said calmly, “I’ll just have to go by myself. I just need to get myself some directions and one of those personal airships, and I’ll be all set.”

Anney shook her head. “No, you…you can’t just approach it in any old airship. I was told there’s some kinda magic barrier or somethin’, so you need a form of magical transport.”

“Ah. Well, looks like you don’t have a choice, Anney. You say you've got a magic ship, so you’re coming with me whether you like it or not.”

Anney thought back to her time on Circe’s island, and suddenly remembered something rather important. A smile came to her lips. “That might not be necessary. I think I know a way you can get to Circe’s island by airship after all…”

End of Section 2/3​
 

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Argh! All this hopping to and fro in time is hurting my brains!

That said, it feels like strands are starting to come together. Which is nice. Possibly, in some far-off future, everything will make sense to me. :p

Anney sure is hiding a lot and/or carrying a lot of baggage with her, non?
 

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Just another doppelganger

55​

The assembled crowd mingled, partaking in glasses of wine and feasting on nibbles. The National Opera House of Port-au-Prince was the venue, a large open space with a high mahogany-panelled ceiling and fantastically gilded cherubs lining the neo-classical columns, overlooked by a chandelier so splendid and sparkling, of the most exquisite craftsmanship.

There was an air of expectancy in the room, for the gathered were waiting for a speech by none of than the Prime Minister of Haiti herself, Selena Eryx. Mostly composed of representatives from foreign companies and governments, the dignitaries were not provided with seating (all of which had been specifically removed from the auditorium for the occasion) but instead were made to stand. They didn’t mind, though. None of them minded, for she was going to speak. The stage, for now, remained empty.

Selena snuck a glance at the waiting crowd through the thick, crimson curtain, and smiled. You’re going to have to wait just a little longer, my dears, she thought. Or rather, her sister Circe thought, for she was remotely controlling the body of Selena for the time being from her island of Aiaia. She scanned the faces and settled on one in particular that seemed somehow familiar, but before she had a chance to think she was interrupted by a tap on the shoulder.

“Ah, it’s only you, Anton.”

Anton nodded pensively. “Yes, Mistress. Sorry if I startled you. It’s just there’s been another incident…”

Selena’s smile disappeared, and she crossed her arms. “Can’t that wait? I can’t be doing with any distractions at the moment.”

I know, but….it concerns the Cloudbuster. There’s been another attempt to hack into our systems. We only managed to prevent losing complete control of the Cloudbuster through blind luck.”

Selena took a breath. “Parasol…?”

Anton nodded. “We think so. Their attacks are becoming more sophisticated by the day. If we don’t do something soon, then who knows what will happen?”

Selena patted him on the head, and shrugged. “Don’t worry. Fet Gede approaches.” She laughed in a way that intoxicated Anton, and with all trace of gloom or despondency gone, she said, “It’s time to sell some sunshine!”

Over the loudspeaker came the announcement, in a deep, thickly accented voice, “Presenting, the CEO of Eryx Industries and Prime Minister of Haiti, Miss Selena Eryx!”

Selena leapt on to the stage to polite applause, and stared at the crowd for just a moment, but that familiar face had gone. Silly imagination, I’m the only one allowed to play tricks around here.

Then, as was planned, the assembled fell under a spell and into a dream.

***​

Anton watched as the crowd dispersed, a job well done by Selena/Circe. The speech itself had not, objectively, been particularly impressive; after all, remotely controlling a zombie servant was not easy at the best of times. Luckily, there was magic in the air, and they all bought into it. Eryx Industries now had dozens of contracts for Cloudbusters, to be shipped out all over the world over the coming months. ‘The threat of Global Cooling has to be addressed,’ Selena had said, ‘or else our environment faces catastrophe. Haitian scientists have been pioneering in this field, and the Cloudbuster is our contribution to humanity. Not only has it saved thousands of lives and billions of gourdes by eliminating hurricanes and tropical storms, it may just be helping to save the planet.’

All rubbish of course; Global Cooling theory was a pure fabrication, but that didn’t matter. As Anton smirked, and mused over the ease of which those minds had been manipulated, he failed to notice a young lady approaching him until she was right beside him.

“Wasn’t the speech amazing?” she said, oblivious to the fact she had startled Anton and made him jump. “I think whoever wrote it must have been a genius!”

Anton turned and had a proper look at the lady. She had skin the colour of dark coffee and black, frizzy hair, with features of both black Haitian and white European that was so common in 21st century Haiti.

“Well, as it happens I wrote the speech,” he said, with just a hint of smugness. That wasn’t strictly true, but Anton never refused an opportunity to impress a young lady. “Some of my finest work, if I may say so myself. Who were you here with?”

The lady’s eyes widened slightly. “What?”

“I mean, what company do you represent?”

Oh, er, the…Jamaican…Energy Corporation. Yep, JEC. We’re a subsidiary of Cuban Gas.”

Anton frowned. “I can’t say I’ve ever heard of it.”

“Oh, that’ll be because we’re new.”

Anton raised an eyebrow. “I see.” The auditorium was now empty apart from the cleaners who hurried about picking up the discarded glasses and dropped food. He shrugged. “Well, I don’t really follow Jamaican affairs. What’s your name, by the way?”

“My name? It’s…” Don’t say Molly, don’t say Molly, don’t say “Molly.” Shit.

“Molly? Nice name. I’m Anton.”

“Thanks. So, as I was saying, it really was a great speech. Top class, up there with the likes of Hitler. But I was slightly disappointed with one thing though, which I was hoping she would talk about but she didn’t when she should have done, something I wanted her to discuss because I find it really interesting and…oh God, I’m rambling horribly, aren’t I?”

Anton laughed. “Yes, yes you are.”

Molly fanned herself with her hand, and said, “Oh dear, silly me. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the thing. I know that Eryx Industries has developed a prototype of a vacuum airship…”

She let the words hang in the air, watching Anton’s face closely. For a moment she thought he wouldn’t bite, but eventually he said, with a conspiratorial wink,

“Actually, there are already a few vacuum airships in existence. I happen to know this because…” he glanced around furtively, “I own one.”

“Ooh, can I see?”

“Well...okay.”

And thus, Molly learnt that men do silly things when flattered by a lady, even if it’s one a lady like Molly.

Across the street opposite the Opera House sat Anney, wearing a pair of shades and an oversized hat, reading a newspaper and sipping a coffee. She was obviously someone in disguise, but it was difficult to tell who, so in that respect the disguise worked perfectly. As Molly and Anton exited the building, Molly gave a subtle gesture with her hand, the secret signal. Phase 1, success.
 

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Well, Anton never was one of the sharpest tools in the shed, so it's not that surprising that Molly's wiles are working. Or are they...? Anton has surprised before.

I will admit to some rustiness, but the names slotted in place and most of the post made sense to me (which is above par for me anyhow). Good to see this continued, a mere eight months after the last update. :p
 

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Well, Anton never was one of the sharpest tools in the shed, so it's not that surprising that Molly's wiles are working. Or are they...? Anton has surprised before.

I will admit to some rustiness, but the names slotted in place and most of the post made sense to me (which is above par for me anyhow). Good to see this continued, a mere eight months after the last update. :p

This AAR operates to it's own unique update schedule. ;)

Everything is based on deception. Always.

So it would seem...
 

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continues directly from update #2

56

“If only I could speak with the dead…” Pierre said idly, taking a sip of coffee. The dead, if they still existed, might have some idea what happened in those lost hundred years. Unless they had all been erased as well…

Pierre flipped through Albert Louverture’s bizarre and incomplete manuscript, in a futile attempt to discover the content of those lost pages. The annotations in the margins were mostly nonsensical and in some cases incredibly crass, and entirely unhelpful.

There were three sudden, sharp knocks on the door. Pierre froze for a moment, before creeping to the door and opening it just a fraction, only to find no one there. He went into the hallway, but there was no one to be seen. He nearly didn’t notice the strange, runic symbols that had been crudely written in red paint, on his door.


Untitled-1-1.png

Pierre stared at it in horrified fascination, feeling understandably unnerved by the whole thing. He then noticed, tucked in his letterbox, was some sort of notebook. He picked it up and shut the door, and opened the notebook on the first page. In scrawled handwriting were the words;

“Property of Albert Louverture, never too old to be immature”.

Feeling a strange sensation inside him, somewhere between excited and queasy, he flipped through the book. Most of it appeared to be gibberish, but on the very last page there was the solution to the strange symbols that had been daubed on his door, a one to one correspondence between them and numbers and letters of the alphabet. Above it was written, ‘Weishaupt Cipher,’ which was a subject that Pierre really didn’t want to explore any further. Pierre opened his door, and began to work out what the symbols meant. What they revealed said,

“27 Rue de Molay come alone.”

An address! A trap, or…what, Pierre thought. He went to his computer and typed the address into Yahoo. As it turned out, the road was several blocks away, in the direction of the city centre and the Hall of Records. Pierre leant back in his chair, and a memory came to him. When he had taken that trip to Havana with Molly, she had mentioned the name Louverture….only once, if he recalled correctly, but it set him thinking. Something about the Black Stones, what was it again? The memories were all faded and blurry, and he could barely bring to mind anything about the trip. Indeed, a lot of his memories were gone. He could not even remember what Marissa’s face looked like.

He decided, after some thought, that he might as well check out the address. Before he did so he checked his e-mails again, one of which was an amusing flash animation mocking some stupid people who had posted silly, poorly spelt stuff on some Grid site or other. There was nothing of any importance, so he left his apartment. When he glanced back at his front door the red painted message was gone, but Pierre felt no surprise. He wondered if it had ever been there at all.
 

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Update read? Check. Update 2 reread to refresh the memory? Check. Comprehension of most recent update? Erm... Let's just say I'm back to par on things. :p

Looking forward to Pierre's (and my own) enlightenment. :)
 

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Yahoo?
Wouldn't google be better?

I know it's hard to remember sometimes, but this is an alternate history. We've got cloudbusters, Voodoo possessions, magical airships etc., so given this universe's backstory, it is possible to imagine a Yahoo search being better than a Google one. It is really stretching things, but hey, that's Fiftypence's prerogative. :p
 

Enewald

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I know it's hard to remember sometimes, but this is an alternate history. We've got cloudbusters, Voodoo possessions, magical airships etc., so given this universe's backstory, it is possible to imagine a Yahoo search being better than a Google one. It is really stretching things, but hey, that's Fiftypence's prerogative. :p

I cannot imagine the world without google.
'google' is even a verb in Finnish, 'googlata', that means searching something from the internet, mainly using google for that. :p
 

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Update read? Check. Update 2 reread to refresh the memory? Check. Comprehension of most recent update? Erm... Let's just say I'm back to par on things. :p

Looking forward to Pierre's (and my own) enlightenment. :)

Next update should clear up a few things (and no doubt create new questions.)

Yahoo?
Wouldn't google be better?
In this universe, only n00bs use google. :p
 

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they don't always have to be evil

57

It was only a short walk, and Pierre found the address with relative ease. Rue de Molay was a quiet backstreet, dimly lit by old fashioned streetlamps surrounded by tall whitewashed buildings, and the windows of number 27 were dark.

He pressed the buzzer for number 27 anyway, and after a moment’s pause a gravelly voice over the intercom intoned,

“How is babby formed?”

Pierre took a step back in bemusement. “What?”

“How is babby formed? How girl get pragnent?”

It took a few seconds for Pierre to understand. Of course, the flash animation! He replied, in a similarly deep voice, “They need to do way instain mother>”

The door clicked open. Pierre pushed it gently, and it swung open to reveal only darkness.

“Hello?” Pierre said, stepping forward into a hallway with a staircase running up one side. In the tiny slivers of light he could make out the door number of the ground floor apartment was 28, so it was upstairs he headed. As he did, he began thinking that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.

When he reached the top of the stairs, he could make out a shape in the darkness. There was a grunt, and forward padded an enormous wolf with grey shaggy fur. Pierre was surprised he felt no fear, presented with this great beast, but he didn’t. Ahead was an open door. The wolf trotted through the door and vanished into the void. Pierre shrugged, and followed the wolf.

Pierre stumbled through the blackness for what seemed like hours…indeed, it almost seemed as if contained in this first floor apartment was an entire labyrinth; either that, or Pierre had been going round in circles like some sort of idiot. He would occasionally catch glimpses of the wolf, which upon seeing him would stop for a moment before bounding off into the unknown.

Eventually, amid all the endless dark corridors and flights of stairs that seemed to defy possibility, he came to what seemed like a bigger room. It was dark, but not completely, and in the shadows Pierre thought he could make out some seated figures.

“Who are you? What’s going on?” he said, more optimistically than anything. Then, suddenly, the lights came on, and Pierre was blinded by the flash. After several moments, he winced as he opened his eyes slightly, struggling to see anything through his useless, unadjusted eyes.

“The Saints of Infinity bid you welcome,” said a voice. “Er, sorry if that sounded pompous, but we did agree on the name and we do indeed bid you welcome, so if, er, that seemed a bit pompous, then you’ll just have to live with it.”

Pierre’s vision returned, and he looked into his own eyes. Pierre gaped and took a step back, and his double laughed nervously and said,

“Oh, yeah, I should have warned you about the whole doppelganger thing. My bad, but…listen, put all thoughts out of your mind, because you need to make sure they don’t get blown like the rest of it.”

Pierre looked around the room, first at his identical reflection and then at the other people. There were six of them in total, two women, three men and the wolf. One of the men was an old guy in a straw hat, asleep on his chair, while the rest were sitting around in silence shifting on their seats, not sure exactly what they should be doing. Pierre’s doppelganger smiled, and said,

“Let me introduce you to the gang. I’m Eleazar, or Lazarus as I was known in a past life. Also meet Lois Mimsy, Leon Bandersnatch, Mademoiselle Charlotte and our lupine friend Maurice Molyneux. He’s not always a wolf, in case you were wondering. Sometimes he transforms into a human.”

Pierre blinked. “You mean he’s a werew-“

“Shape-shifter,” Eleazar said hurriedly. Maurice let out a low growl of warning. “We don’t use the W word, Maurice finds it repugnant.”

“Ah, right.” He glanced at the wolf and nodded apologetically. The wolf seemed to accept the apology. “You didn’t introduce everyone though,” Pierre said, nodding towards the old man in the straw hat.

“I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to do that. Our leader is more than capable of introducing himself to you. Aren’t you?” The old man carried on sleeping, letting out a little whistle on his breath. “Aren’t you?” Eleazar repeated, giving him a slight nudge of the elbow. The old man woke up with a snort and start.

“What? Gedoff me you little…oh, right sorry. Did I doze off again? Ah, Pierre, it’s good to see you again.”

Pierre frowned. “Again? Oh, wait a minute, I recognise you! You’re the old guy from the café under the Hall of Records, right?”

“Correct. Ever the observant one, aren’t you? Indeed, that’s why we brought you here—well, we we’re hoping you would find us by yourself, but some meddlesome higher beings rather put a spanner in the works by dumping you on that desert island. We lost several valuable months because of that cock-up. They were obviously paying too much attention to Molly Nemoy and her delusions about poor Eleazar, her ‘midnight man’ being a villain because he took from her Albert Louverture’s notebook. And I see it was Anney who rescued you…ha! It’s a funny old world, ain’t it? Well now, here you are in the den of the Saints of Infinity, and I’m guessing you’re wondering who we are and why we’ve summoned you here?”

Pierre nodded. Glancing round the room, the others had slipped away unnoticed, leaving just Pierre and the old man alone apart from Maurice the wolfman, who stood ever vigilant by the door.

“Good, of course. We are a secret society dedicated to making people notice things. At least, that’s what we started out as. People used to notice plenty of stuff, but then Wilhelm Reich came to Haiti with his madcap ideas, which wouldn’t have been a problem if the bastard wasn’t completely right about everything, which, alas, he was. The Cloudbuster project started out as the brainchild of utopian idealists, but was quickly perverted and taken over by those who wished to use it to establish control. Things then rather got out hand-Circe escaped from the void, and was able to strike a deal with Baron Criminal to give her form and power in this world. The blame for this lies entirely with me. It was my fault, I accept full responsibility. The Criminal was my ward, it was my duty to keep him securely locked away, and I let him escape. I left open the doorway. I hold my hands up. Guilty as charged.

“And so, I had to take a lead in trying to prevent the destruction of infinity, and to do this I formed this secret society, the Saints of Infinity. The Cloudbuster takes orgone, and a lack of orgone makes people passive and inert, turns them into mindless zombies. Well, I know a thing or two about zombies, so I knew I had to do something to wake people from their stupor, to make them take notice.”

Pierre said, “What did you do?”

“Ah, well. You know those hundred years of Haitian history that vanished from the record? That was my doing. The Lost Century was a project orchestrated by the Saints of Infinity. A grand, glorious scheme to take away a hundred years. Surely people will notice if an entire century is missing! Well, guess what?”

“What?”

“They didn’t. Not really. It didn’t work. It took much prodding and haranguing from us to get you to notice it, so it was completely lost on the population of Haiti at large. I underestimated just who, and what we’re dealing with. Not just mind control; that’s nowhere near ambitious enough. What we’re dealing with is the destruction of every reality other than this and the total mental enslavement of this one, the complete annihilation of a near infinity of people. So, we had to hatch a new plan, and so I made an effort to try and find those few who had noticed the missing century, and as it turned out there was only one person who really noticed. The potential events of the future have a ripple effect on the past, and as we approach judgement day, reality becomes thinner and strained, and almost seems to be falling apart. Anyone who noticed such a thing, who truly noticed the cracks in the thin walls of reality, would appear outwardly to be completely insane. It would ensnare all who came into intimate contact with her, and shatter them into tiny little pieces. She was just a girl at the time, but I knew straight away. Can you guess who I’m talking about?”

Pierre nodded slightly. “I think I have an inkling.”

“Yes, it’s Molly Nemoy. Parasol did a good job with her, as she’s now plotting to find Circe’s island. She doesn’t even know why she’s really doing it, but I wouldn’t expect her to. She thinks she has a stop a war, which I guess is true in a sense, but the nuclear war over Guinea is just a distraction. Not many people realise just how changing the future can change the past. Anyway, I’m sure you’ve heard all about Parasol from your friend Stephan Neumarche?”

“Yeah,” Pierre said. “I always thought he was speaking gibberish.”

“In a sense he was. Parasol is, of course, just a front organisation for the Saints, but we don’t tell them that. It’s very easy to miss a real secret society that’s right in front of your eyes if you spend all your time searching for an imaginary one. Even Parasol doesn’t know it isn’t real. Crazy world, huh?”

Pierre said, “I see. But there’s one thing you still haven’t told me. Just who are you exactly? What is your name?”

“Ah, the burning question! As cliched as it sounds, I have many names, one of them being Atibon and another being Pebble. Some call me St. Peter or St. Anthony or St. Lazarus, in a cute attempt by the Catholics to syncretise me. But my true name,” I said, taking off my straw hat and grinning a big grin, “is Papa Legba.”
 

Enewald

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So the entire world forgot an Haitian century?
no records anywhere?
 

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Papa Legba, intermediary between humans and the spirit world (hurray for Wikipedia).

The update certainly explains a lot (so Molly is not really nuts, it's just the entire world around her?), but how (or why) did Pebble let the Criminal out?