Today we have an optional buy to offer you that many have been asking for ever since the first pieces of The Others artwork started leaking online a year ago. With so much amazing art by so many great artists, how could we NOT do an art book?!
The optional buy book The Art of The Others: 7 Sins will contain all the artwork created for the game, including several pieces that haven't yet been revealed! This hardcover book will feature the amazing and creepy art created by Adrian Smith, Karl Kopinski, Stefan Kopinski, Paolo Parente, Miguel Coimbra, Jacopo Camagni, Richard Wright, and Georges Clarenko.
We estimate the book will be around 80 pages long. Besides all the full-color artwork, it will also feature several short stories further delving into the world of The Others: 7 Sins!
If you're interested in purchasing this optional buys, please just click the "Manage Your Pledge" button on the The Others: 7 Sins Kickstarter page and in the pledge manager add the amount of the items you'd like to get. We'll sort out what your extra money is going towards after the campaign has closed and we've sent out our Pledge Manager.
Here's the first short story so you can have a taste. It details an important meeting and the inception of the FAITH organization!
Lack of FAITH
By Eric F. Kelley
Leah Solomon did her best to keep from glaring, but the tightness around her good eye told her she wasn’t succeeding. She didn’t like the mayor of Haven at all.
“I’m afraid this isn’t evidence of anything,” he was saying. He sat forward in his creaking chair, fingers interlaced, as though he was some kind of thinker. When really he looked like cheesy British villain out of a Dickens novel.
She tried being reasonable. “I recognize this is difficult to accept—“
He interrupted with a gesture. “Impossible, more like! You want me to believe in monsters.”
She hated being interrupted. “I showed you the footage—“
“Bah! I’ve seen better images of the American ‘Bigfoot’.”
“And the testimonials—“
“Indigents. Homeless. Rabble! Probably drunk.”
She would not grind her teeth. “Including more than one police officer—“
He gestured, palm out. “Enough. I agreed to this meeting only out of respect for your former colleague’s memory, Miss Solomon—“
He grinned beneath his pencil-thin mustache. “Well, actually, I’m afraid the university has revoked your title.”
She was surprised, but didn’t show it. “Which university?”
“All of them. The decisions were handed down yesterday.” He slid the image from his screen to her holo-bracer. They’d replaced tablet computers just last year. “It’s this… crusade of yours. If you had something concrete, perhaps someone would have listened by now. Instead, you’ve been turned away in both government and academic spheres time and again. And little wonder! You want us to believe in the Loch Ness Monster.”
She glanced at the notice of revocation hovering in the air. Another irritation. Another roadblock. Another bit of evidence that hidden hands were moving against her. She brushed it aside. “Irrelevant.”
His eyebrows shot up. “I don’t think it’s so irrelevant. Nor is it irrelevant that the beginning of your decline coincided with the accident some years ago.” He leaned forward, looking like a squatting toad. “Or was your ascension due primarily to Doctor Gan’s good graces? Alas, his coattails did not survive the accident, nor his death.”
She stood. “We’re done.”
“I should say we are. And, Miss Solomon, for your own sake, I’d suggest dropping these… wild claims.”
Now she glared. He tried to hold the gaze, but couldn’t.
“When they come for you, remember that we had this conversation.”
He blanched, and she left.
Outside she muttered as she stalked towards the elevator. “Same story. Again. And to think I actually put on makeup for this.”
The elevator tone sounded like a cathedral bell. The door opened on a trim young woman in sharp business attire. Very blond and British. “Oh! Doctor Solomon?”
“In theory. What tipped you off?”
“Your eyepatch. It’s very distinctive.”
Leah had no time for her. “Yes. Excuse me, I’m in a rush.”
“I’ll join you, if I might.” The elevator doors closed, and the young woman handed her a document, actual paper. “Official notice of suit. You’re being taken to court.”
That sinking feeling hit. It had become so familiar. She hardened herself against it and got cross. “What now?”
“Raven Corporation, its subsidiaries, and shareholders object to use of its properties, materiel, and personnel in your ongoing campaign of slander against said corporation.”
Ridiculous! Raven was the largest of the international news networks. What did it want with her? “I’ve said nothing against Raven specifically! I found an infestation beneath one of their properties. It’s a fact!”
“Then you should have no trouble proving that in court. Do you have representation I should be speaking with?”
“No. And there’s no money to be won anyway, so I’m not sure what Raven expects. Who’s bringing the suit? The individual who thought I’d be a good target, I mean.”
She shrugged. “I believe it came down from Mrs. Lafeyette herself.”
Stunned. The head of a media empire had taken notice of her and her work? And had taken objection? “What the f—?”
“I believe your many requests for assistance and funds in this—well, outlandish pursuit of ‘monsters’ has caught her attention.”
“And who exactly are you?”
The elevator chimed open. She stuck out her hand. “Melanie Raye, with an ‘e’. Paralegal, Raven Corp legal division, Haven.”
Leah looked at the hand and left the elevator. “I don’t shake hands with people who are suing me on groundless accusations.”
Melanie followed. “That would imply that if they had grounds for suit, you would shake hands.”
“I have no time for jokes, and find them offensive in this situation. We’re done here.” She hadn’t broken stride.
“Wait! Please. Just a moment. I really want to believe you.”
Leah stopped and turned. “Why?”
“I… had a brother.” She looked away. “A patrolman. He vanished, and his partner is in a coma. He looked like he was attacked by… an animal. Large. It happened on Raven Corp property when they went to check on a break-in.” She looked up. Her British reserve was faltering. “I want to know what happened.”
Leah punched up an address on her holobracer and held it up in front of Melanie. “Was it here?”
Melanie looked at it on the screen before her. “Yes. Our regional HQ.”
She closed it down. “Your brother is dead. If he’s lucky.”
“You don’t know that!”
“I do. But, you can go on holding out hope instead of facing it. It’s all anyone does. Climate change, the global recession, the fusion hoaxes… all of it. Everyone hopes it’ll all get better instead of facing reality and fixing it. It is amusing that you, an employee of Raven, is looking for truth. Your network is one of the biggest perpetrators of this pie-in-the-sky attitude. For the last thirty years you’ve pushed your agenda on morons who let their hopes get in the way of evidence. So, this shouldn’t be a stretch for you. Tell yourself your brother is alive. Happy. And just went to get doughnuts. I’m sure he’ll be back any day now.”
Melanie’s eyes were big. Her lip started to quiver.
Leah rolled her eye. “Oh, please.” She started walking again.
“Then show me!”
Leah stopped and sighed. “What?”
“Show me your evidence. All of it.”
Leah looked back. “To what end? I need people in authority to take this seriously. And a paralegal can hardly call in the troops.”
“No, but at least I might get this suit to go away. If my brother really is dead or…” she gulped, “or worse, as you say, then you’ll have another voice on your side.”
Leah thought a long moment. Ridiculous. This little girl could do nothing to help. Nor could her brother, if he was even alive. Hell, she’d interviewed two officers driven half insane by what they’d seen. But, she had to admit, it would feel good to get this suit dismissed. Especially after so many failures. Fix just one thing, then move on to the next problem. “Fine. You have an office?”
“At our regional HQ.”
Ironic. “Of course. I’ll meet you there.”
“Tonight. After ten. I’ll have the guards let you in.”
“Fine.” Leah left.
At 10PM sharp, the armed guard showed Leah into Melanie’s office. Stacks and stacks of books and files turned the small room positively claustrophobic. “Doctor Solomon, thank you for coming!” she said. She indicated a seat across the desk that looked specially cleared for Leah.
Leah sat. “I thought most firms were finally paperless.”
“Mrs. Lafayette prefers records that can’t be hacked or erased. So, I’ve practically learned calligraphy.”
“You have a tablet at least?”
Melanie held hers up, sleek and shiny, but not a wearable. Practically an antique.
Leah slid a video to her. “This is the best I’ve been able to capture.” It was a grainy image, like seen through a bad satellite feed. Darkness, and a fleeting movement amongst pipes in an old-fashioned steam tunnel. The camera tracked in on something running like a dog. It leaped towards the camera. Fangs. Then static.
Melanie played it again, her mouth quirked. “It’s not much.”
“I had to throw the camera and shoot the thing.”
“Then you’ve got a corpse, right? Mayzo!”
Leah hated slang, but she ignored it. She kept her tone moderated. “It merely ran the thing off. I heard more ahead, so I left.”
“Of course. Blood, stool, some skin. Destroyed at the lab ‘by accident’, and before analysis even began. There’s other footage, but that was truly the best I’ve got. They’re cautious and camera-shy. I believe they’re intelligent. Or at least an intelligence is working with them. Dead-drop cameras go missing. Microphones record only animal scuttling and grunts, and also go missing.”
“It really is thin, isn’t it?” Melanie’s skepticism was hardly new to Leah.
“For physical evidence, yes. But it’s something to go on, and I haven’t convinced anyone to even go look. On the rare occasions I’ve succeeded, the plans get cancelled. Or the funding yanked. Or someone disappears.”
Leah slid across more files. “Four colleagues. Two grad students. More than one police officer, which baffles me as to why there hasn’t been more of a reaction to that, but I bet you’ve run into the same reluctance in searching for your brother.”
Melanie’s eyes hardened. “They keep saying my brother will turn up. And they’re ‘looking’. But they’re not doing much.” She held her breath a moment, then blurted. “I think they’re scared!”
“They’re right to be. I’ve pinpointed what I believe are seven nests beneath the city. Far down deep in the catacombs. Past the subways and the old subways and the old sewers. But the one beneath this building is closest.”
Melanie was tapping her teeth. They were brilliant white. “Show me.”
Leah laughed. “I’m not taking a civilian into that kind of danger.”
“I can handle myself!”
Leah wanted to slap the little girl. “Can you handle a gun? Can you move quietly? Can you keep your head in the dark?” Leah shook her head. “Your weapons are regulations, books, and pencil skirts. That won’t do you much good when a monster’s on your heels.”
“Well, what would I need then? I really want to see these things for myself. Or at least some evidence with my own eyes. You’ve been down there and survived. I can do it too.”
Again, Leah groaned inwardly, and wrestled with it for a moment. “No. I’ve had military training, and I’ve done fieldwork around dangerous predators more than once. What have you done?”
“I can handle a gun. My brother was a bobby, don’t forget. If it’s a matter of keeping quiet and staying behind you, I can do that too. If we find anything significant, I’ll get the suit dismissed. Or at least bury it.”
Leah felt a headache coming on. “Won’t that anger your boss?”
Melanie smiled tightly. “The trouble with all that paperwork is it takes years to move. Paralegals have their ways, believe me.”
Well. Leah was the expert on these monsters. She’d gotten out of more than one scrape. She was a crack-shot despite the lost eye. And, again, it would be good to have someone, anyone, believe. “Fine. Do you own any weapons?”
“Just a tazer.”
“Then I’ll loan you one of mine. Tomorrow night, we’ll go hunting.”
“What should I wear?”
“Nothing bulky. Nothing encumbering. Shoes with good treads meant for running.”
Through the next day, Leah had plenty of time to regret her decision. Taking this… little girl into such a situation was ridiculous. But what else could she do? Her back was against the wall, and she hated the desperation it created. If only just one of those two cops had kept their mind together…. But they hadn’t. They’d been hunted. Harried. Stalked. Leah really hoped Melanie was made of sterner stuff.
That night, approaching midnight, Leah met Melanie at the Raven Corp headquarters. Leah instantly regretted her decision.
Melanie wore skin-tight spandex and a halter that looked more at place in a fashion magazine than a gym. Leah compared it with her own no-nonsense jeans, t-shirt, and heavy jacket. She groaned again. “I guess I did say nothing bulky.”
Melanie asked, “Do I get an assault rifle too?”
Leah shook her head. “This one’s mine. Here. A .45. Are you sure—“
Melanie checked the safety, ejected the magazine, cleared the chamber, and reloaded in three seconds.
Leah snorted. “Well. At least that’s something.” She handed over a flashlight headband and noticed the tazer on Melanie’s hip. “That should be a last resort. I don’t know enough about their physiology to know if it’ll work.”
Melanie turned on the light. “So. Where are we going?”
“Steam tunnels beneath this building. We’ll use the same way as before. We go in through the sewer outside, then down into the old city’s corridors. There’s an entrance down there.”
“We can use the basement, if you want. My badge will get us through.”
Leah considered. Would probably save time and reek a little less. “Fine.” As they headed down, down, and down, Leah put on her own light and explained the rules. “I lead. Keep your light on. They tend to avoid it.”
“If we want to find one, shouldn’t they stay off?”
Leah sighed. “Can you see in the dark?”
Again, Leah had that foreboding sense. Her headache had never really gone away. This was a bad idea. She continued, “When we see something, you stay behind me. I’ll do the shooting. Cover your ears, and watch our back. And also remember to look up from time to time. Some of them can scuttle along the ceiling.”
Melanie’s eyes were a bit big, but she nodded.
Like all truly ancient cities, Haven was built in layers. The new upon the old upon the ancient. The area was geologically stable, so it was conjectured that ancient streets and tunnels dated back as far as two-thousand years or more. Fortunately they needn’t go nearly that deep.
Down into the subbasement, past the immense coolers, and into the twilight they went. Leah had a vague notion of descending to the underworld, not for the first time. A large fire door marked ‘emergency exit’ got them into the tunnels.
Pipes and concrete. Darkness and shadow. Kilometer after kilometer of it. Her holobracer led the way. Twice Leah stopped at echoes ahead. Melanie’s breathing was quick behind her. They pressed on.
No lights now. Only what they’d brought with them. “We’re near where I saw them before,” Leah whispered. Everything was either pitch-black or starkly revealed in their harsh LED lights. Something large moved up ahead and around a corner. At the same moment, something scurried in the dark behind them, claws on hard stone.
Melanie whirled and gasped. Leah turned, saw nothing, and turned back to see a creature lunge. She had no clear view, just an impression of fangs, saliva, and a lurid tongue. She kicked off a three-round burst, and the sound roared in her ears. The thing missed her by centimeters. Blood flew. It screeched, sounding almost human, and scurried away into a much larger room maybe three meters further down.
Leah kicked off several more shots, certainly hit with some, but it didn’t stop. It vanished.
Melanie’s eyes were like saucers. “Did you see that?”
Leah’s adrenaline was going, but her voice was steady. “Couldn’t have shot it otherwise. You’ve seen one. We’re leaving.”
“No! We should look for my brother.”
“He’s dead. We’re done here. Before more come back.”
“I thought you wanted proof. Hard evidence to bring back!”
Leah shook her head. “The mission was to show you one. Again, we’re done.”
“I’ll go on by myself.”
Leah sighed heavily. She yanked the tazer from Melanie’s hip and stunned her. “I said, we’re done.”
She slung the rifle across her back, Melanie over one shoulder, and carried the .45 in her free hand. The girl was all of fifty kilos. Easy for a woman of Leah’s strength, once she was situated.
The skittering began again. She kept the light moving from back to front and back again. She caught sight of movement, but never enough for a shot. Corners were the worst, but several years of monocular vision had taught her how to deal with blind sides.
Just when she started breathing a little easier, they made their move.
One lingered a bit too long in the light up ahead. She brought the gun up and fired a single shot. Blood splattered, and it squealed and fled. But she hadn’t heard the one behind. She whirled in time to get knocked down. Melanie was dropped in a pile. The gun got knocked from Leah’s hand and went off again. She grappled with a slavering horror that was nearly all mouth. She barely kept it away from her face. It stank of fear.
Melanie sprang to her feet, and slammed her fist into its head. Bone crunched and blood flowed. Leah threw it off, and Melanie stepped over her, crouched in a fighting stance. “Get the gun!”
A thousand questions, but no time. Leah scrambled backward as the thing charged. Melanie met the charge with a whirling kick beyond human ability that sent it staggering. Leah brought her rifle up, fired two bursts, and the thing’s head burst open. It dropped, leaking greasy, bloody ichor.
But Leah didn’t lower the weapon. She kept it trained on Melanie.
Gone was the young blond girl. Melanie seemed taller, self-assured, and much, much more mature. She looked at her gore-covered hand. “I bloody well knew it.” Her accent had been British before, but now had a distinctly aristocratic cadence.
“What are you?” Leah demanded.
“Oh, Doctor, please. There’s no need for theatrical displays, though you Americans do love them so.”
Leah aimed. “One last time. What are you?”
Melanie smiled wide. She had fangs. “A vampire. The last, in fact. If you’ll lower the weapon, I’ll even introduce myself. Assuming, of course, you can accept a vampire’s existence, even as we stand over a freshly killed Other. I assure you, Doctor, we really do need each other.”
Leah thought for just a moment, then lowered the weapon.
Melanie advanced, bloody hand out as if at court. “Morgana Lafayette. Ah, but I have forgotten. You do not shake hands with someone engaged in litigation with you. Rest assured, the suit was merely a ruse.”
Leah still didn’t shake hands. “A ruse? And… you’re Lafayette?”
“Mogul, eccentric multi-billionaire, and head of Raven Corporation, Broadcasting, and all subsidiaries. Most think of me as a feeble old woman. It’s a necessary disguise, especially when dealing with my board.” Her laugh was at home with the dark. “To think, I’m older than all of them combined.”
“What kind of game is this?”
She looked at the dead creature. “The worst. They’re back.”
Leah sighed. She shouldered her rifle and fired in half a second. Morgana whirled as another dead creature collapsed from the ceiling.
“Told you to look up now and then,” Leah said.
Morgana smiled. “So you did. Shall we retire upstairs? There is much to discuss.”
“Help me drag one of these away. We need the proof.”
“My dear Doctor, we need nothing of the kind. I believe you. I have seen this before. We will not win this with evidence, because there are very organized forces moving against you. Now. Let us away before they smell their dead and come to feast.”
They rode the elevator to the penthouse in silence. Raven’s building was one of the highest in Haven, higher even than the cloud layer tonight. The light pollution below filtered up, making it seem as if they sat in a room buoyed by deep red clouds.
Morgana was the perfect hostess. “Can I get you anything? A drink to calm your nerves, perhaps?”
“My nerves are fine. I suppose I can accept that vampires exist, considering what I’ve just seen. The evidence is there. Now, why the nonsense?”
Morgana worked at washing her bloodied hands in a silver basin. “With the lawsuit? As I say, I wanted your attention in a way that avoided formal contact. The fake brother was to see if you’re at all sentimental. And, I must say, you dealt with young Melanie’s hysterics quite brilliantly. Well done indeed.”
“And you risked yourself for all this?”
She shrugged, still washing. “I wanted to see the proof for myself. I could hire an army, of course, but it was really you I wanted to measure. You were not found wanting.” She was drying her hands. “As I say, they have returned.”
“You said it was an ‘Other?’”
“Yes, that’s what we called them back then. Alii, actually. But, of course, you speak Latin.”
Leah did. “And this has happened before.”
She sat across from Leah behind a massive obsidian desk and steepeld her fingers. “Yes. Sorcerers were meddling with things they should have left alone. These things invaded from… well, wherever they come from. There were wars. Secret wars. And, some not so secret. We beat them, though at great, great costs.” She looked almost sad for a moment. “They corrupt what they touch. Make it like them. They consume… everything in their path. They are drawn to power. Political, military, social, and so on. They are intelligent, after a fashion.”
“That would explain these other possible nests I’ve found.”
Morgana was surprised. “You’ve found other locations?”
Leah pulled up the map and expanded it in the air before her. The city was laid out in grids. “It took a while, but the right methodology seems to work. Unexplained disappearances are the first key. They take people and animals, I assume for physical nourishment.”
Morgana inclined her head.
Leah continued. “After that, look for incidents. An outbreak of irrational behavior, or a spike in assaults. The police blotter is helpful. Then scout the area. Look for physical signs. Markings. Droppings. Alien scents. I’ll never forget the first time I smelled them. They’re… wrong. Like a charred marshmallow made of flesh. Which sounds—“
“Ridiculous, unless you’ve been there. I know.”
Leah took in a breath. “I do hate being interrupted.”
“Apologies. It is not my habit. Your research in such a short time is astounding. It took us half a century to discover what you found on your own.”
“You said you beat them. How?”
She chuckled. “You find their brains. They corrupt people to bring more of their kind to our world. But there are a few at the top. Either the first one’s corrupted or stronger ones that have risen. We called them Archons. They’re the minds behind it all. Utterly irredeemable.”
Leah’s mouth went dry. “I may know at least one.”
“Doctor Gan. Yes. I looked into your background, and the experiment that has so marred your record. What were you really trying to do?”
Leah shut down the map. She felt old. “A study in extra dimensions. We were trying to open a… crack, is the best term. Instead we got a gateway. And those... Others poured in. I thought everyone else was dead.”
“It would seem some have survived. It is they that are the true enemy. Not their children in the sewers. Though I’m puzzled as to why they simply didn’t have you killed. It seems they want to punish you.”
Leah hardened her heart. “Well, they picked the wrong fight. Are you saying that you’ll help?”
“I shall. I am quite impressed by your initiative and your ability to operate within limited means. Fortunately, this time they’re not so limited.”
“So you’ll lead an initiative against them?”
Morgana chuckled. “This is your hunt. You shall lead. Your military background shows you’re no stranger to command and its burdens.”
“So, I’d be working for you?”
“No, not at all. Even my mighty empire is vulnerable to attack. If they know Raven’s involved, they’ll step up their campaign, and we want them to remain slow, and cautious. I’ll be the money. You shall command.”
Leah’s warning bells went off. “Yet the money is often the power in private enterprises.”
“Would you like a billion? Maybe two? Do you take a check?”
Leah blinked. She wasn’t often surprised. “You’re serious.”
“Deadly.” And she looked it.
Leah was satisfied. “Fine. We’ll need a staging area. Laboratory. Equipment. Military munitions.”
“Jurisdiction, if possible. We don’t need the police or any ministry officials getting in the way.”
She shrugged. “Again, easy.”
“And a team.”
Morgana grinned. “Less easy. But give me your criteria. I’ll see what I can find. Oh, and we’ll need a name for our endeavor. A clever acronym. Branding, if you will. A symbol.”
Leah couldn’t care less about it. “Why? Are you going to film it and put it on your network?”
“Symbols are very important. Believe me, I know a thing or two about icons. How about: FAITH?”
Leah shook her head. “I’m a woman of science.”
“Ah, but ‘faith’ is belief without proof.”
“Science is rooted in proof.”
“But it starts with an idea. A hypothesis that you believe true, before the evidence is gathered. Whether it’s in a deity or science or a woman alone on her crusade, we all have faith in something. I think it’s appropriate.”
Leah’s headache eased for the first time in years. She even twitched a faint smile. “Well, that’s not half bad. FAITH it is.”