“One of the more fascinating urban rumours that has been spreading across the globe is that of a secret society known as the Radical Friends. This started as a tale passed around by world of mouth in the witching communities of the United Kingdom Eventually, as many of these legends do, it moved online and started to take flight around the world. The prototypical form of this tale asserts that there is a secret group, calling themselves the Radical Friends, infiltrating society the world over with small groups linked together in Radical Friendship with ties between each cell.
“The initiation rituals for this society supposedly create bonds between their members such that they have a preternatural knowledge and understanding of the others. This shared purpose and linked understanding is then to be spread around the world in order to… do what? At this point each telling diverges; one may say that they are trying to forge a new world of equality and understanding, one may say that they are trying to create a tyrannical overclass, and yet another claims that they are forming a human telescope network to search for alien brainwaves from distant galaxies.”
— an excerpt from Modern Myths by Vanessa Cyrene, 2029.
The below comment is also part of the final publication but is an addition to the original manuscript, written in red ink.
“While there are still a number of people who claim to know a member of the Radical Friends, there is as of yet no consistent evidence of any widespread infiltration of a society of this sort, or similar.”
Next to this is a further, scrawled comment:
“Not technically true, but we can't let them know we know. Not yet. — Ed”
Or rather, Friend. That's what you're all calling yourselves, isn't it? It's been some time since we last spoke, but I've been keeping an eye on things. Call it spying if you want, I'm just looking out for someone who's helped me more than I deserve.
I have come to warn you one last time: Turn back. I helped you achieve this because you helped me when you didn't have to, and now I'm attempting to stop you for the very same reason. You can feel it, can't you? What this is doing to you? You've seen where this road ends, what's going to happen at the end. This doesn't end well for anyone involved.
The last time such a creature existed, it nearly wiped out what was left of my people, only to be killed by one of your own. I assume the irony is not lost on you.
But you clearly didn't listen last time we spoke, and since then I've watched as you've become less and less yourself over the years. If there is anything left of the good man who helped me in a time of need, anything at all, then please, stop this. At this point, you're probably the only one who can.
And if there is nothing left of you…
I'll make sure to warn humanity of what's to come. For all you speak of so-called friendship, let's see what you make of the best humankind has to offer, and true unity in the face of impossible odds.
Good luck, old friend. You're going to need it.
— Recovered from the office of Artemis Smith, dated approx. 2031
“BREAKING NEWS: Unuathorised gathering at Montmatre, New Paris – purpose unknown.”
— BBC World News, August 18th 2032
“There's got to be hundreds of them. We don't know what's going on. Is it a protest?”
“They're doing something. Looks like magic – there's a light.”
“Oh fuck, oh fuck, they're coming.”
“Don't look back ju”
“Join us, friends”
— Tweets from @jesuisallandre, translated from French, August 18th 2032, 7.02pm
“I can't believe it – we've been preparing for this moment for two years and now I can't find him?! I went to his office and there's just a card sitting on the desk. Do you know what it said?
“A badger did it.
“No time to worry about Axel now, we need to get Filings out there.”
— Intercepted communication from Felix Charmed, from the Filings Headquarters in New Paris, August 18th 2032, 7.15pm
The video shows the crowd grow into a riot, grow into a swarm, grow into a flood that pushes outwards and seems to threaten to engulf New Paris. The six hundred or so who were there when this all kicks off quickly draw in those around them and through this they continue to grow and spread. Before long it's not really a set of individuals: it more seems to be a single organism acting through hundreds, and soon thousands, of constituent parts. Those who attempt to halt the spread – mostly brave individuals and municipal police at first – convulse almost immediately. It seems that all hope is lost when an army appears, folding out of houses, street corners, and any other space where they can hide.
The footage from here on in is mixed and confused, showing a pitched battle over much of the centre of New Paris but details are hard to extract just due to the sheer volume of information contained. There are a few brief flashes of Nicholas Queensbury dashing through the chaos dropping a literal paper trail that explodes a few seconds later, dividing the horde in two. Axel Jones, Felix Charmed, and Nate Quail lead divisions of witches and allies fighting desperately to contain the outbreak and disappear into the writhing masses of bodies on each side. Fighting. Destruction. Chaos.
Those video clips with sound, mostly those from phones on the ground, are suddenly filled with a roaring noise as an unmarked van careens through the Neoparisian streets. It drives towards the mass of Radical Friends, with no sign of stopping. At the last moment two men in shapeless clothes bundle out of the van which then does its best impression of a bowling ball. The men are engulfed in fire and bodies a few moments later. Intercut with this is a shaken and bloodied Jim Crichton. He fumbles his hands towards his face and is replaced by a humanoid figure of titanic proportions; the film is too shaky and unclear to see exactly what happens.
Over the course of a few hours the fight swells outwards into the centre of New Paris, bringing death and destruction to all, before being pushed back by the combined forces arrayed against the monstrosity. By midnight, New Paris is quiet.
“Looking through the wreckage of New Paris, it seems clear that the rampant extension and infiltration of the so-called Radical Friends had left any potential defence weakened and betrayed. The death count will likely never be resolved definitively - on either side - and we lost many of our greatest defenders: James Crichton, Nathan Quail, and Tennin Marcarth, among others. It is my humble opinion that we must that not allow a similar incident to happen again, and that strong global cooperation against such hive minds is absolutely necessary.”
— Excerpt from a report from the Chief Investigator into the incident of New Paris, 2032.