AUDIO RECORDED: 10/03/2021

Analyst ████████
Site-231 Intelligence Division

MTF Operative Apprentice STOOD
Team Leader, Hoplite 1-1


INTERVIEWER: For the record, I am Analyst ████████, and I am here to debrief OA Stood on the events of the 7th of March, 2021. Could you state your name for the record?
STOOD: MTF Operator Apprentice Stood, Team Leader, Hoplite 1-1.
INTERVIEWER: And in what capacity did you serve on the night of the event?
STOOD: I was tasked with leading Bravo team. We were to cross the river, utilise the hills to provide fire support for Alpha. Our overall tasking was to investigate the town of-
INTERVIEWER: In your report, you state that you encountered the entity?
STOOD: I'm... not sure. It's hard to... remember. It feels like - like fog.
INTERVIEWER: Operator, answer the question. Did you, or did you not encounter an entity?
STOOD: Uhh, no - we just moved to the hill. Then we had to fall back. There was an APC stationed at the-
INTERVIEWER: That doesn't match other reports from the event. Witnesses described an 'erratic outburst' from you during the pre-mission briefing. They described your replies to questioning as 'dazed, and cryptic'.
STOOD: Well, hang on, that's-
INTERVIEWER: They also reported disembodied voices. Out in the field, described as...
(Shuffling papers can be heard.)
INTERVIEWER: And I quote, 'a demonic voice claiming to be Lucifer'. These are alarming claims, Operator - why don't they match your report? What aren't you telling me?
STOOD: Wait, hold on, can - can we back up a bit? I-
INTERVIEWER: Operator, did you or did you not observe a burning man in the boat house?
STOOD: Burning man? I - I don't know, I don't remember a...
INTERVIEWER: Think harder. Your team reported it was pitch black. Night vision was in use. Contact was reported in the boat house. You ordered your marksman to eliminate a water-borne threat. What happened next?
STOOD: The contact in the boat house. He... He burst in to flames. Then... Disappeared.
(Several seconds of silence.)
STOOD: I'm not sure. I just remember a headache kicking in. And feeling like... No matter what we did, it was futile. Despair.
STOOD: Nothing. We returned to Alpha, and-
INTERVIEWER: (Sighing) That's enough.
(More shuffling of papers, and the sound of another file being opened.)
INTERVIEWER: So, you got to the first investigation site and found the previous team's SUV. What happened then?
STOOD: We got there, I remembered that the car was familiar.
STOOD: Familiar. Like... I'd been there before. Like it was parked exactly where we left it, angled to the tree. Like I'd left those spare mags in the back. Like we'd done it all before.
INTERVIEWER: Hmm. And what happened after that?
STOOD: Nothing? Like I wrote in the report. Command radioed in to recall us. We didn't even enter the town.
(The sounds of several files in succession being dropped onto the table.)
INTERVIEWER: Quartermaster's report... Medical checkups... Forensic analysis... Corrupted camera footage... Even an activity tracking watch from one of your teammates says something happened. I have all this circumstantial evidence telling me a different story - just who do you expect me to believe, Operator?
STOOD: Look, I don't know what the fuck you want me to say. We found the SUV, and then we were ordered to withdraw! Fuck's sake, you have our helmet cams. See for yourself.
INTERVIEWER: Yes. We have your helmet cams, and the recording from the thermal camera. The commanding officer reported that during the debrief, you claimed to have images on your SD card that you hadn't taken.
STOOD: They could have been pictures from the last op. Maybe somebody forgot to wipe it.
INTERVIEWER: You should know that's not possible, Operator. Those cards are wiped when the tech team ingests the footage. Your credibility is already in question, and lying about this doesn't do you any favours.
(Paper shuffling, followed by cards being moved across the table surface.)
INTERVIEWER: Look at these photos, Operator. Tell me exactly what happened after you left the SUV.
(Several seconds pass in silence.)
STOOD: We - we... rallied to the road. Bravo left, Alpha right. Actual had us moving off north - then we got to the second investigation site, and we - we -
(Several more seconds of silence.)
INTERVIEWER: Now's not the time to drop the ball, Operator.
STOOD: Jesus, don't you have anything better to do than harangue me? Fuck, give me a sec. We... Approached the site and observed a visible anomaly. A fucking - a shimmer, I don't know. It was right in the middle of the checkpoint. Not long after that Alpha received contact.
INTERVIEWER: Contact from what? Who?
STOOD: From us. Not us, but... us. They-
INTERVIEWER: What do you mean, "us but not us"?
STOOD: I dunno, they had our fucking gear on.
INTERVIEWER: What gear? Describe it specifically.
STOOD: Vests, nods, 5.56 platforms. Except, they were different beneath the gear. They had skin like crude oil. Deep black, with a sheen to it.
INTERVIEWER: Did they ever try to communicate?
STOOD: No, they just opened fire.
INTERVIEWER: Alright. What happened when you reached the town?
STOOD: We were engaged by further contacts. I - I dunno, I... observed some phantom entities, sitting in upside-down couches.
INTERVIEWER: That's when the first pictures on the thermal optic were taken - these ones here?
STOOD: Yeah, I think?
STOOD: For fuck's sake, are you guys trained to interrogate by pissing people off? I'm fuckin' trying, here.
INTERVIEWER: (Raising his voice) Try. Harder. Was this the location of the first picture?!
INTERVIEWER: The feeling of familiarity you described with the SUV. Did you get the same feeling from the town?
STOOD: Yes. Like it wasn't the first time I'd been there.
INTERVIEWER: And what happened in the final house?
STOOD: We cleared it. Thermal camera showed phantoms everywhere. Rounds had zero effect on the targets, but they showed no hostile intent. They were familiar, too. Like I could've easily swapped places with one of them. Like they'd already done the exact same thing we were doing now.
INTERVIEWER: Other reports mentioned a book on the second floor. What can you tell me about that?
STOOD: It was just sitting there, open on the table. Before I could get organised, Hoplite Actual touched the book and then he was gone.
INTERVIEWER: Gone? How? Did he evaporate? Get sucked through a worm hole? What?
STOOD: I... Look, I don't know how to explain it. He just vanished.
INTERVIEWER: And then what happened?
STOOD: Actual tried to make radio contact. From there... I don't remember. We were back at the SUV getting the call from Command. Like we'd just snapped out of some kind of deep daze-
INTERVIEWER: That's not enough, Operator. We need to know - what did Whitestrake say after he touched the book?
STOOD: I don't. Fucking. Re - mem - berrr.
INTERVIEWER: Operator, do I need to remind you what's at stake if you can't answer these questions?
STOOD: Fuck off, go ask him yourself. I'm not going to sit here getting treated like an asshole. I'm done.
INTERVIEWER: We're not done until I say we're done, Operator.
(Several seconds of silence.)
INTERCOM: That's enough for today. Pack it up, Analyst. We'll see if the Operator Apprentice feels more talkative tomorrow.