Monday, August 31, 2015

Bureau Files: Rules of the Reaper

Among mortals and immortals alike, nothing commands more respect and fear than Death. Most see death as an absolute, immutable law of the universe, beyond the reach of even the Gods. We at The Bureau of Death know that this is not the case, and The Rules of the Reaper ensure that we are the only who know this.  The Reaper is not an individual, but part of the greater whole that is Death, and it is by following these rules that The Reaper acts in the way that Death is expected to act. The Rules are listed in descending order of priority. That is, a Reaper is to break a rule if, and only if, the following of that rule would break a rule of a lower number.
  1. A Reaper must obey any order from Atropos.
  2. A Reaper must obey any order from Clotho.
  3. A Reaper must obey any order from Lachesis. (There is a mistake in the order of these rules –Sis)
  4. A Reaper must do everything in their power to ensure that no being possesses information related to The Bureau that is forbidden to them. The term “being” here includes, but is not limited to, mortals, deities (of The Pantheon or otherwise), Higher Ranking officials of The Bureau of Death, other reapers, and yourself. (And Sis –Chloe) See Bureau Files: Clearances of Classified Information and Personnel Files: Lethe for further details.
  5. A Reaper must do everything in their power to prevent harm from coming to The Fates*, other Higher Ranking Officials of The Bureau of Death, deities of The Pantheon, themselves, or other Reapers, in descending order of priority. (exemplī grātiā If a Reaper must decide between protecting The Fates, and protecting another Reaper, they are to prioritize protecting The Fates)
  6. A Reaper must do everything in their power to kill a mortal whom they know to be Due, in the present or near future, or otherwise see to it that the mortal is killed.
  7. A Reaper must not kill a mortal who is not Due.
  8. A Reaper must do everything in their power to ensure that harvested souls are delivered to Charon with minimal spirit decay.
  9. A Reaper must obey any order from a higher ranking official of the Bureau of Death (See Appendix for more details on what constitutes a “higher ranking official”)
  10. A Reaper must never let any memories of their mortal life influence any decision they make related to the business of The Bureau of Death.

*Reapers are not, under any circumstances, to perform any action which may, intentionally or unintentionally, harm The Moirai, even if ordered to do so by one of The Moirai. This can be thought of as a “Rule Zero” that supersedes even the first rule. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Reaping Files: Special Tasks (ST)

OK, so, basically, “Special Tasks” is just an umbrella category for all the stuff that doesn’t fit into the other two categories. (Assigned Reaping and Patrol Reaping) I guess if we’re running with Chloe’s whole “the world is a stage” thing, Special Tasks would be… the boss battles? No, plays don’t have those. Probably the special effects. Like, the big pyrotechnic displays or cool laser lights. While AR and PR are both just as important as each other, ST is totally more important than both of them. Like [Atropos] said earlier, the Special Task Force is the best of the best, because special tasks are the kinds of things that we can’t trust to just anyone.

Like what, you may ask? Well, like I said, a Special Task can really be anything that a Reaper is assigned to do that isn’t AR or PR. So, like, if Hades asked a Reaper to go fetch him a glass of pomegranate juice, I’m pretty sure that would count as a Special Task. But that’s not what it usually means. I guess one common example of a Special Task would be Mass Death Events. (I’m not sure if that’s actually the official term or not) A Mass Death Event is when a very large number of mortals die in a short amount of time, like The Hiroshima Incident of 1945, or The Great Antimatter Catastrophe of (Double-check the date on this one –Chloe). Stuff like that is usually handled by ST, using specialized weaponry called Heavy Ordinance. (I’m pretty sure we don’t use the acronym for that one.)

The killing of anything expected to have the ability to fight back is also considered a Special Task. These can be mortals who are unusually attuned to the spheres of the divine, or demigods, born of a union between a mortal and a God (Zeus. Let’s be honest with ourselves and admit that it’s probably Zeus.) They usually don’t put up much of a fight, but Death doesn’t take chances. There are all sorts of other things that are occasionally assigned as special tasks, but you don’t really need to worry about all that right now. Special Tasks are advanced-level reaping, and this Handbook is really meant more as an introduction. More information about Special tasks will be revealed to you in time, if you prove yourself worthy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Reaping Files: Patrolling Reapers (PR)

However, not all mortals have a prophesized moment of death. There is only so much thread available to Lachesis, and even one of The Fates can have trouble keeping up with the sudden explosion in mortal population. (Could you make it sound a bit less like I don’t know how to do my own job? –Sis) In the analogy that was so colorfully introduced in the previous section, these mortals would be the chorus: shuffling on and off of the stage freely, drawing little attention to themselves. Though they are important, their importance exists only in relation to the main characters. Their deaths have little bearing on the so-called “script” of Fate, and so, their times of death are not prophesized. Such deaths are handled by the PR. At all hours, a network of PR is deployed around the mortal world such that every mortal is within range of at least one (1) PR. Naturally, this network is designed so that areas with high mortality rates, such as hospitals and areas of ongoing conflict, have a high PR density. PR must use specialized equipment, (to be described in greater detail later in this handbook) as well as their own judgement, to determine when a mortal is Unexpectedly Due (UD).

Though the mortals subject to PR are, in a sense, less important than those subject to AR, this statement should NOT be misconstrued to mean that PR work is, in any way, shape, or form, less important than AR work. Given the unpredictable nature of PR work, it is far more reliant on the faculties of the Reaper than AR work, which requires nothing more than following the orders of Fate. Thus, it is more prone to errors. As it was so elegantly put in the previous section, Death is unerring. There would be dire consequences if mortals, or even the Gods of Olympus, were to suspect otherwise. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that PR be efficient and flawless. Actions which constitute errors include, but are not limited to: killing a mortal who is not Due, failing to kill a mortal who is Due, being spotted by a mortal, or failing to obey an order from a Higher Ranking Official in the Bureau of Death. A more exhaustive list of punishable infractions can be found in the section Bureau Files: Rules of the Reaper.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Reaping Files: Assigned Reapers (AR)

Death is unerring. It is the inescapable hand of Providence which escorts actors from the stage of life at the precise moment their role is fulfilled. The stagehands who coordinate these timely exits are the Assigned Reapers, or AR. Though AR have the least trying job of the Reapers, their role is arguably of the greatest importance. For it is they who see to it that the mortal world is in accordance with the script penned by we, The Moirai. For The Fates, who weave, measure, and cut the very thread of life, the moment at which a mortal is meant to die is as apparent as the Sun in the sky. The deaths of the future are known to us as clearly as the births of the past; we need only measure the length of the thread. One can imagine the thread as a curtain, which is drawn over the stage when the actor’s scene is finished. Or perhaps the life threads of all mortals, past, present, and future, are woven into a single curtain, which obfuscates the stage in preparation for the real show. Though, if the mortal world is not the main production, then what could possibly lurk backstage? But you needn’t concern yourself with these matters. All you need understand is that, when one’s thread of life runs short, an Assigned Reaper is dispatched, with scythe in hand, and winged sandals on foot.  They patiently loom in the shadow of their prey, striking only at the appointed time: not a moment too soon, and not a moment too late. Unfortunately, the custom of placing coins under the eyelids of the recently deceased has fallen out of fashion, yet old Charon remains as miserly as ever. Thus, it is often up to the Reaper to scrounge up the fare to ensure the departed’s passage across Styx. Once the soul is in the ferryman’s care, the Reaper’s job is complete. Yet Death is rarely afforded the rest that it offers to mortals. It will not be long before the AR [sic] is given another task, and the cycle begins anew.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Reaping Files: Categories of Reapers

Death is the one thing that unites mortals, and it is the one thing that distinguishes them. It is a journey with countless paths, but only one destination. Every man dies differently, but the Underworld that awaits them all is unchanging. And just as Death varies, so too do the Reapers who carry it out. A Reaper is much like a cloud; though each one is unique, with its own set of skills and experiences, it is not impossible to compare them, as all may be described as belonging to one of three distinct classifications.

All working Reapers fall under one (1) of three (3) broad categories: Assigned Reapers (AR), Patrolling Reapers, (PR), and Special Task (ST) Reapers. New Reapers are typically employed as AR, while the more experienced typically serve as PR, with ST typically reserved for only the most distinguished Reapers. Unfortunately, this terminology has become a loathsome mire of ambiguity. The abbreviations AR, PR, and ST were originally intended to refer to Reapers themselves. However, they may also refer to the type of work carried out by such a Reaper (to be described in further detail in the upcoming paragraphs). Furthermore, note that the categorization of a Reaper is defined solely by their current work, exemplī grātiā, A Reaper is considered an AR if, and only if, they are currently assigned to kill a particular mortal, id est, they are performing the duty of an AR. Even if they tend to be given such assignments, a Reaper is NOT an AR if they are not currently carrying out such assignments. It is not uncommon for a Reaper who is usually given AR work to be erroneously categorized as an AR, even when they are between jobs. A Reaper who is between jobs does not fall under any of the three (3) categories, as they are, by definition, reserved for working Reapers. One might maintain that there could be a 4th category for Off Duty Reapers, but this is not the official stance of the Bureau of Death.

This section would be incomplete if it did not mention the Special Task Force, (STF) a group closely related to, yet distinct from, the ST category. STF membership is conferred upon Reapers deemed capable of taking on Special Tasks. In all but the most dire of emergencies, Special Tasks will be assigned only to members of the STF. STF membership is different from the ST categorization in that it persists, even when the reaper is not currently assigned a Special Task.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Personnel Files: The Moirai

  The Moirai, AKA The Fates, are three (3) sisters who govern Destiny by spinning, measuring, and cutting the threads of life. In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that they are also the authors of this very Handbook. As the very personification of Providence, it is reasonable to suppose that they are the most powerful beings in the universe, with King Zeus himself as the only possible counterexample. 

Atropos (no known aliases) is the eldest of the sisters, she who brings death by cutting the thread of life. She has ultimate authority over not only who dies, but when, where, and how they die. As such, she is the Highest Ranking Official of The Bureau of Death. She represents the certainty of Fate. She knows Fate to be a thing of unyielding perfection, demanding that all things be exactly where they must be, across all of space and time.  All objects, actions, people, ideas, and even Gods have an exact place in Fate. She cannot stand others who fall short of this perfection, even if they are her own kin. However, that is not to say that she hates her sisters. Even though it is improper form, I will speak in 1st person, just this once, to go on record saying that I do love you, my dearest sisters, Lachesis and Clotho.

Clotho (known by those close to her as Chloe) is only young in comparison to her two sisters. 
She spins the very thread of life; every man, woman, and child on Earth is placed there by her nimble hands. At least, such was the way of ancient times. These days, she oversees The Bureau of Life, that which exists opposite to The Bureau of Death, which completes the task in her stead. Yet Death and Life are but two ends of the same thread. Accordingly, she is also a significant figure in The Bureau of Death. She sees fate as a chaotic sea of all that is and all that might be, sailed by the lonely ship of reality. The rudders may nudge the ship this way or that way, but the ship is ultimately at the mercy of the unpredictable currents and eddies of Fate, beyond the control of any mortal or God. Will they steer the ship to safe harbor, or a maelstrom of ruination? Perhaps this is the secret of the Moirai.

Lachesis (I call myself Sis but I’m not sure if anyone else actually does) is the middle sister. I measure the thread of life, which determines how long people live. So I guess that, in a way, I kind of determine when people die, but I guess Atropos’ shears have the final say. I’m the second highest ranking official in The Bureau of Death, and the Bureau of Life, as well as the highest ranking official (and only member) of the Lachesis fan club. Go me. I believe that Fate is what is going to happen because it was willed to happen. People, Gods, and even animals have desires for the future. They act so that these desires might become reality. The future is decided by those with the desire and power to shape it, whether it be the power of few, or the power of many. That is Fate. (I think.)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Equipment Files: The Reaper's Handbook, Part 3

As a Reaper, much is expected of you, but honestly, we don’t actually expect you to have all the information in this book memorized all the time. I mean, let’s be real. You’d have to be the God of memorizing a bunch of stuff (We probably have one of those) to keep it all straight. This is another reason to keep your handbook with you wherever you go: it serves as a handy reference, just in case you forget anything. The PWM (Pretty Weird Magic) can make it a bit difficult to find stuff, so we included a neat trick to get around that! It’s basically a search function that allows you to quickly find information related to a certain topic. Here’s what you do: Hold the book, closed, between your palms, with the spine facing up. Then extend your arms so that they’re parallel to the ground. Then, think about the topic you're searching for. Once you have a clear image of what you’re looking for in your mind’s eye, drop the book. (The book is water-resistant, not water-proof, so be careful around water! Or… whatever it is that flows through The River Styx, for that matter.) If the ritual succeeds, the book will land, face down, opened to the page you’re looking for. If it doesn’t work, it will bounce to the side. Pay attention to which cover is facing up! If the front cover is facing up, then your mental image was registered, but nothing related to it was found in the book. If this happens, your best bet is probably to ask a higher-up about it. But watch out! Death may be patient, but some of the people who make it happen aren’t. They’ll get mad if you waste their time. If the back cover is facing up, then your mental image wasn’t registered. When this happens, all you can do is keep trying ‘til you get it right!  Also, while the book has a lot of cool features, it isn’t indestructible, so repeatedly doing this can lead to wear and tear. For this reason, I recommend using bookmarks to keep track of sections you often visit. Just don’t think about the PWM too hard, and they should work.

Hey, this paragraph is kind of a secret, even from my sisters, so I ORDER you not to tell anyone about it, even them. (An order from Lachesis can only be overturned by one from Atropos. See section: “Bureau Files: Rules of the Reaper” for more details) I managed to hide a fun Easter egg in the book. Try the search ritual while imagining your own face from when you were a mortal. I don’t want to spoil what happens, but you’ll love it. But, for real, DON’T try this until after you’ve made it to The Underworld. If you try it before, you might corrupt the data and, I dunno, break the universe or something.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Equipment Files: The Reaper's Handbook, Part 2

The purpose of this Handbook is to provide new Reapers with all information necessary for successfully carrying out the killing of mortals. This ensures that The Fates needn’t take the time to personally explain everything to each new Reaper. This information includes, but is not limited to, the procedures of killing, equipment (including this very Handbook) and its purposes, and descriptions of notable personnel within The Bureau of Death. This is a great deal of information, far more than can conventionally fit in a book of this size. For this reason, unconventional methods are employed. Though the Handbook only appears to have fifty (50) pages at any given moment, its paper shifts with each turn of the page, warping ink to reveal the next section of the handbook. This feature of the book is known as the Page Warping Mechanism (PWM). It is important that the Handbook be small, as Reapers are expected to carry it with them at all times. The Handbook serves as identification, allowing anyone to distinguish a Reaper from a common shade with a sharpened curve of metal. It also identifies you on an individual level; Each Handbook is unique, stamped with an imprint of the memories of your mortal life. By the time you are reading this, it is likely that this process has already begun. Do NOT attempt to recall memories of your mortal life, as doing so may inhibit this process.

Do not be alarmed if this is your second time seeing this page during your initial read-through of The Handbook. This is not a malfunction of the PWM. This section initially appears towards the beginning of The Handbook, just after the introduction, so that new Reapers understand the purpose of what they are reading. Once it has been read and understood, the PWM shifts it to its proper place among the Equipment Files. If the first section you see in the Equipment Files chapter see is “The Grim Scythe”, then it is reasonable to be alarmed. This indicates that your understanding of the material within The Handbook has been found lacking. If you find yourself in this situation, the recommended course of action is to start from the beginning and read each page again. Repeat as necessary. All chapters of The Handbook begin with a Checkpoint Section like this, which first appears shortly after the introduction. It then relocates to the beginning of its appropriate chapter if, and only if, the reader has read and understood all prior pages.  Please keep this in mind, and keep an eye out for familiar sections at the start of each chapter.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Equipment Files: The Reaper's Handbook, Part 1

As of this moment, the only thing separating you from an eternity of claiming the souls of the damned is the information in this very book, penned by none other than The Moirai, The Three Fates who govern Destiny. Within its pages, you’ll find the secrets of life’s beginnings and ends, the mechanisms that keep the great clock of the world ticking, and wisdom coveted by even the Gods themselves. When your knowledge is such that you yourself have become Death, open this book to its ultimate chapter, and perform the ritual detailed therein. Upon its completion, you will find yourself at the gaping maw of Hades*. Confidently stride through the queue of the deceased, heedless of the slavering Cerberus, and present this handbook to Charon. Begrudge though he may, he will ask for no coin as he charters you a course over the River Styx, across the River Acheron, towards your new home. But be warned, former mortal. Your career as a Reaper can only be born when your mind is pregnant with the seed of knowledge in these covers. Any attempts to reach The Underworld without having read every last page of this book will bear no fruit. For as you read this book, it too, is reading you. Your knowledge and ignorance are laid bare before it. If you are found wanting, you may just find yourself in a part of The Underworld that you do not wish to visit.

*In this context, Hades refers to The Underworld itself, rather than the King who rather unfortunately bears its name. In an effort to minimize this lamentable ambiguity, this Handbook will use “Hades” only when referring to the deity. The realm over which he rules will simply be referred to as “The Underworld”. Regrettably, this naming convention is all too common among the divine, who arrogantly posit that the petty ego boost of naming their domain after themselves is worth sullying the elegance of Fate’s decrees. In general, names that can refer to a being or location will refer to the former, unless otherwise specified, exemplī grātiā “The River Styx”.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Reaper's Handbook

Congratulations, recently departed soul! The Fates have deemed you worthy of being a Reaper. If you believe this judgement to be in error, place one (1) coin under each of your eyelids, and speak aloud the words “Memento Mori” three (3) times. You will be escorted to Styx and proceed to the afterlife with no memory of having read these words. If, instead, you wish to become a Reaper, you need only read on. By continuing to read after this sentence, you hereby consent to serve as a Reaper for any interval of time demanded by The Fates, finite or otherwise, during which you will obey all rules and regulations implied by service as a Reaper, under penalty of ironic torment.

Excellent! We are sure you have many questions, and The Reaper’s Handbook was written for the very purpose of answering them. Invariably, the first question asked by new Reapers is the most obvious one: “Just what is a Reaper?” An entire handbook could be devoted to the nuance and subtleties of this question alone; there are as many answers to this question as there are entities who understand it. That is, admittedly, not a terribly large amount in the grand scheme of things, but for the purposes of this introduction, one simple answer will suffice. And the simple answer is that Reapers are those who kill mortals. The mortals think death is something that they have control over, with their knives, and their poisons, and their guns, and their bombs, but they are wrong. These things only determine when the mortal is Due. Death, the actual separation of the immortal spirit from the mortal flesh, can only be carried out by a Reaper*. By a being like yourself.

*Though the term “Reaper” is commonly used only to describe those employed specifically to kill mortals, there is some debate over whether the term also includes any with the power to do so, Including, but not limited to, The Fates, some higher ranking Bureau officials, and the so-called “Rogue Reapers”. Throughout this handbook, the word “Reaper” is assumed to mean an employee of The Bureau of Death whose primary job is to directly facilitate the death of mortals, unless otherwise specified.