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Does anyone remember a TV channel called ‘Beneath the Static’? (Part 6)

1 | 2| 3 |4 | 5 | 7 | 8 (FINAL) |
Let me begin by following up on the aftermath of The Day Of Separation.
Everything happened extremely quickly; my Mom went out in a frenzy to search for Tristan, she didn’t even try to register what we said beyond “he’d been taken” and spared no time or expense in getting the wheels moving. The sheriff’s department, our county SAR and a public appeal on state-wide television all yielded absolutely nothing. But you knew that, as did we. If anything, it made it all the harder for us to sit by the sidelines and watch my Mom, who had already lost the only man she loved at a young age, now struggle to deal with the reality of losing her only son. She took sabbaticals from work, spent most of her time researching, calling anyone, putting grounded ideas on a drawing board until the grounded gave way to the fanciful, things beyond what actually happened. She steadily lost her grip with reality until the 3rd anniversary of his disappearance when she passed from a heart attack, Doctors called it broken heart syndrome. I think looking back, she found it too tough to deal with not seeing her boy reach his 21st, even if she had me.
During those years, I tried everything to help her and push the search forward, only ever speaking of what happened in muted tones and furtive conversations late at night with far too much wine in either of our systems. Mom never said she believed me, but she didn’t discount the ideas either. Instead, she sat there every time, wide eyed and patient, slurring her words of revenge on whoever stole her boy away from her. “If I ever catch the person or persons who took Tristan away from me… from us… I will make sure they never rest a day in their lives again. My sweet boy deserved better…” She’d slosh the wine across our couch as she wept, I’d put her to bed and cry myself to sleep, before pushing all the emotions down and returning to the role of the responsible Muldoon.
In the weeks and months after he first “went missing”, the gang went through changes of their own. Preston, perhaps feeling an obligation to stay and help because of his own brother, stayed close by for the first year and made sure we always had something to eat in the highly likely event we were too exhausted to cook. His boyfriend Zachary would always be on hand to help too, full of zest and the kind of dry wit you can’t teach a person. I adored the both of them. Eventually, Zachary got a job offer he couldn’t turn down across the country and asked Preston to join him, which he did. I tearfully watched them go at the airport the following fall and we promised to stay in touch, we didn’t.
Warren went on something of a rampage to begin with, picking fights with anyone and everyone over the smallest issues. He escalated to sticking his nose into disputes that didn’t need him, trying to get any reason for someone to hit him first so he could go to town on them. He said all he saw was Mathias’ and JJ’s faces when he swung, that it didn’t matter how many times he struck them, the rage didn’t go away. This would one day lead to a grievous bodily harm charge in the UK when he got involved in a dispute between a man and his girlfriend. The man slapped his partner so hard it drew blood, Warren clocked him with a clean left and another, then another and so on until the guy was barely moving on the floor, his girlfriend screaming to stop. He was sentenced to 4 and a half years, but was released after 2. When we talked, he seemed oddly at peace, though I wouldn’t truly see the change until he came over.
Millie was the outlier, I know very little about what she got up to. 6 weeks after the day of separation and a few frayed phone-calls, she turned 18 and said she was going to New York to get her bachelor’s degree, to continue her goal and become a mortician. She’d already had her acceptance letter, but was hoping to see how the summer with Tristan went and give a long distance relationship a shot, though she openly admitted they barely got beyond discussing feelings. She came over the day of her move, car packed up with all her things and asked to go into Tristan’s room one last time. Naturally, I obliged and let her in, his room preserved the exact same way we left it; video games stacked on his desk with a laptop perched on a small mini unit, a slew of sticky notes for advice on how to make the blog better and market it efficiently. He truly believed we would be famous one day. Millie sat on the edge of his bed, a sweater of his draped over the gaming chair that she picked up and held in her hands. Even though Tristan was my twin, I knew she was hurting in a way I could never understand. She wept into it, the familiar smell ripping open the wound and letting all the pain out. I told her to keep the sweater and to call once in a while. She promised to call every year on our birthday, but her waving from her Sedan was the last I’d ever see of her.
Not long after the first entry went up, I received an email from Mathias that sent shivers down my spine, especially as I thought I was the only one who’d stayed in the town;
To: Lying bitch
From: Your one and only.
Subject: I guess it’s almost time
I had hoped you’d resurface one day. Folks around town said they’ve not seen you in years! I always kept my distance, mind you. But I knew you were getting on okay and that I’d eventually get my chance to swoop in and comfort you. Only… that never happened. You refused all visitors, drank yourself into oblivion and sold your “tortured art” to make ends meet. You took what could’ve been a beautiful life between us and you wasted it. We’re nearly 30 now, Fay. Nobody is going to want a washed up spinster who can’t even have kids. They say your eggs are largely gone by this point… doesn’t that bother you? Doesn’t it concern you that the ONLY man you’ve ever pined for in your life is your DEAD BROTHER? Women are meant to be more than this… I at least learned that much from Callista.
I get that you’ve never much cared for physical interaction, but I think I could change your mind if you’d just look past my indiscretions and let me in. Besides, that was what was promised to me all those years ago and I fully intend to collect what I’m owed one way or another.
Maybe it doesn’t matter if you don’t oblige, maybe it’ll never happen in your lifetime. But some things transcend the world we live in and maybe this is just one of those times, Fay.
The sages are coming to visit, the moment the borders are open again I KNOW they will. That’s fine, I welcome it. WE welcome it. The job was never done. You didn’t tell JJ or Ernesto what happened at Mantis Reach and I sure as hell wasn’t about to, not without the whole “gang” there to admit their guilt. Luckily, I know you well enough. All of you will want to end this and I couldn’t agree more. So, here’s the footage, do your review and when it’s over… come find me.
You know where we’ll be.
I love you. You make my skin bubble and feel hot to the touch in a world where everything is pins and needles.
I don’t need to tell you why it makes me more uncomfortable than anything else in so many years. But the timing could not be ignored. Attached was a .mov file I had never thought would still be intact, but with Mathias being the technical expert he is, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. I saved the email and began making contact with the group. First with Preston, then Warren and finally Millie, resolving we’d meet back here where it all began when the time was right.
They flew in on Friday and the first thing we did when we got to the basement was play the file Mathias sent;
“The Fall Of Mantis Reach.Mov”
The first thing that struck me about the group as we traversed back to my home was that age-old adage; The more things change, the more they stay the same.
I don’t know if the alcohol-filled nights and lack of change in my routine had not aged me much, but save for a few inches in height growth and a pixie haircut to my still-dyed red hair, I hadn’t changed all that much. Sure, I had a few more stylistic changes to my wardrobe and a scaffold piercing, but that was about it. “You literally look like you’ve had a minor wardrobe change, and that’s it. How the hell is that possible after 10 years?!” Preston exclaimed with tears in his eyes. He was taller, slightly leaner and with a bit more muscle to his frame, but happily still a larger man. He wore custom sweaters he’d print under his own clothing line “P & Z Streetwear”. This one was a demonic Gengar devouring Ash Ketchum, mini Haunters ladened across the sleeves.
“I guess I just got lucky. Meanwhile, you look fresh to death!” I replied, beaming at him as he chuckled and combed his afro.
“Well, I still think I’m pretty sensitive, but Zachary definitely imbued me with confidence! He sends his apologies, he couldn’t be with us, he wanted to come but… Sages only, right?” He gave a weak grin and patted me on the shoulder before heading downstairs, laughing as I repeated my brother’s cheesy line; “mmm… you may pass!”
Warren, to his credit, didn’t look as old as I’d imagined he’d be post-prison. His mohawk now a slicked back undercut and a thick black beard, sporting a business casual attire and a black metal band tee underneath that he flashed us with a quick grin.
“Didn’t want you thinking I’d gone all corporate.” He smiled, pulling me in for a one-armed hug, his more defined frame shocking me at first as he whispered, “I’m sorry it’s been so long, Fay. We’ll figure this out, no matter what. I fuckin’ promise you.” Before stroking my hair for a moment and heading downstairs.
Lastly, there was Millie. Even more beautiful than I remembered, she sported an all black attire and was clad in a Neo-goth outfit from the multi-clasped platform boots up to her choker that ended in the same lucky cat’s paw. Her face filled with piercings from the septum to her stretched ears, which prompted me to tap my own as she flashed a small smile. Before we even said anything, she hugged me tight, an unexpected bit of affection from someone we’d always known to be incredibly distant.
“I wish I’d been in touch. But the longer it went and the closer I got to that day, I just… I…” her voice breaking, the shame bubbling over. I soothed her and pulled away, smiling.
“What matters is you’re here now and come rain or shine, we’re gonna finish this, right?” I beamed at her and she nodded affirmatively, clutching at her choker.
“10 years is long enough, let’s do this.”
The basement was much like Tristan’s room; frozen in time. We’d decided early on to not change anything, in case we ever elected to go back and finish things. Though, I imagine most of us were too broken and terrified to ever do so back then. The same amount of chairs positioned themselves across the room and we could see small bloodstains where Mathias had once sat, crumbs in Prestons area and a distinct groove from how Warren fidgeted in his. Without saying anything, we moved our seats around and left Tristans directly in the middle where it belonged, turning Mathias’ to face the wall. It may sound silly, but it was symbolic. He was gone to us.
As we set up the Apple TV to cast the file to, we began catching up on what we’d lost.
Fay: So, what’s the biggest changes for you guys? I mean, a decade is a hell of a long time… though the last few months definitely felt like a lifetime in of itself.
Preston: I hear ya. We were lucky to operate our business from home, but not everyone was so fortunate. I guess the biggest thing for me is Zack & I’s wedding, we’re aiming for 2021 and of course we’d like you all there.
Fay: That’s… that’s wonderful! Of course we will be, I bet you’ve got a hell of a caterer, right?
Warren: Well, mine’ll kinda shock you guys… but I have a little boy.
He was right; it did. Warren had never shown much interest in anyone and didn’t seem the type to let anyone close, but the way he smiled and the love in his eyes in that moment suggested otherwise.
Millie: No shit… how old? What’s his name? Is he anywhere near as loud as you?
Warren laughed, heartily in fact. The insecurity he had as a teenager clearly long gone. He pulled out his phone and showed us a smiling boy, gap toothed and holding up a drawing of his family, including Warren and his partner.
Warren: He’s 3 and his name… is Frankie. After my little brother. Damn talkative and I gotta watch what I say around him now, or Zara will have my head. But, I love him, love my family. They saved me.
He looks so fulfilled, I couldn’t help but feel overjoyed.
Millie: Well, in my case, I became the mortician I’d always said I’d be. Got *really* good at it, in fact. I teach other students while I foster animals in my spare time. I know, I know. Lucky cat’s paw and dead things are still fun, but there’s something… wonderful about helping them find love again, y’know? It’s… part of why I wanted to come back here. To put this to rest, both what happened and who we were back then.
There was a murmuring of agreement before the video flashed up and a preview of the file greeted us. It was a shot of the whole group standing in front of a large wooded building, me and Tristan pulling the fusion dance from DragonBall Z, Warren fake punching Preston as he holds up his hands, Millie smiling while looking over at Tristan and Mathias staring at the kid near the centre of the photo, squatting down with his hands clasped, wiry brown hair protruding from beneath a red trucker hat;
Dallas “Livewire” Mendoza.
This was the night it happened.
00:01 - The camera turns on as the group is seen hiking up the trail and joking to themselves. The camera zooms in and out dramatically on Warren as he makes huge strides up the trail as a younger me laughs from behind the camera.
“Ohh look at our Super Saiyan as he leads the way to our glorious hideout!” I declared, putting on my most announcer-like voice. Warren grinned and pulled Preston in for a headlock, who immediately tapped as Millie laughed.
“You guys are such dorks, what are we discussing in the hideout today?” Millie called out as the camera pans over to her, brushing her hair out of her face. Livewire could be seen at the top of the hill, fumbling with the keys to get in the main door.
“Matters of the utmost importance, my good lady.” Livewire replied in his most regal voice, much to our delight. The brass key turned in the lock with a deft clunk and the steel door creaked open as our younger selves sauntered inside, giddy that we’d reached a place where we could be ourselves.
Preston: Man, it’s kinda crazy to think that this was 15 years ago, and it still looks fresh even now. Technology is insane. Warren: You’re telling me, was I always that fuckin’ small?Millie & Fay: Always. Fay: And loud, don’t forget loud.
Warren: Alright, alright. You got me there, but man… doesn’t the old place give you the willies?Preston: No… but seeing LiveWire does.
00:05 - We watched as the camera followed the group inside. The structure was imposing, warped and downright bizarre. Situated over three floors, the building had been left to the annuls of time after Mantis Reach was declared an unsafe commodity by the local councils back in the mid-80s. Restoration and housing was a big part of the governmental promise and I suppose they felt the need to foreclose any unsightliness or ugliness that the town perceived to have. So, much like lancing a boil, Mantis Reach was cut off from the world and hidden away so the tourists didn’t see it.
Now, one of the last derelict buildings stood there, a monolithic skeleton of mortar, cast iron and steel. The inside re-arranged and suited to our comfort, but still very much a reminder of the age old rule the town had; if it’s unsightly, store it away. We felt a kinship with the place and when the world turned its back on us; we sank away into the guts of this beast.
There was a cut on the feed and it skipped ahead some time later when we were all sat around what we called “The Green Room”, several old velvet couches and some make-up tables lined the dusty room, the wood-rotted floorboards threatening to give way at any moment. Mathias sat in an old wicker chair, rocking back and forth, pretending he was a prospector and fake-spitting at the end of every sentence, the group delighting in the spectacle.
“Y’know, I heard a legend about this place…” Livewire spoke up, sat across both armrests of an oxblood recliner. “Supposedly, this was all shut down due to an issue with the manager. Dude went crazy and broke protocol, shot his entire staff before turning the gun on himself. They said the building was totally unusable after that, that it was straight up haunted.” He snorted, back flipping off the chair and calling out in his most melodic voice “bullshit”.
“I mean, there’s one way we could find out. None of us have ever stayed the night here.” Mathias remarked, rocking back gently and waxing poetically. "Legend has it that if a soul spends a hallowed eve here, they'll never be the same. But you..." He points a shaky finger at Livewire for dramatic effect. "You have that live spark that could manage it!"
The group chuckles as Livewire scratches the back of his head, uncertain.
"I dunno guys, I get distracted easily and this place isn't exactly "safe" y'know? How do we know it'll be okay?"
We chanted his name, clapping and stomping as he began nodding and moving to the beat, psyching himself up.
"C'mon Dallas, you're the fearless one! You can do ANYTHING!" Preston said, genuine admiration in his voice.
"Hell yeah, I bet you could climb the ladder at the top of the building and hang your shoes over the powerlines!" Warren cried, pumping his fist in the air. "THAT'S top tier shit right there.
Younger me turned to Tristan as they're discussing the feat, a tinge of nervousness in my voice.
"Do you think that's safe? I mean, obviously it's NOT, but you know what I mean."
"Dude, the power to this building has been dead for a long time, that's why we have that big ass generator Mathias got us. The power lines definitely don't run anymore. You can do it man!"
The camera cuts to Millie, leaning against the wall and shaking her head, she looks uncomfortable but doesn't protest.
"Hm... Well, fuck it! Been a while since we did anything crazy and maybe this'd get me worked up to stay the night!" he rolled forward and jumped up, hair flopping as we clapped. "Call it marking my territory!"
Millie: I hated everything about this, still do.
Preston: Why didn't you say anything at the time? We'd have listened.
Millie: C'mon, group mentality combined with his infectious personality and daredevil mentality? I'd have just been bringing everyone down.
Warren: I get that, you didn't feel comfortable. But it sounds like you thought you didn't fit in with us.
Millie: Because at that point, I didn't. A misfit amongst the misfits. A fuckup beyond fuckups. It's not like I was proud of it, but...
Fay: I get it, you didn't wanna make waves or let your guard down too much, even at this point. I'm sorry.
She shrugged and didn't take her eyes off the screen.
Millie: Yeah, me too. Believe me.
00:30 - The camera is panned upwards towards the second floor, a makeshift bedroom we'd used for naps that housed little more than a faded mattress and a mirrored closet we kept snacks in. By the upper landing, there was a small metallic ladder leading some 15ft up onto the roof where the power-lines hung overhead. The rest of the group stood outside as Fay got an establishing shot before hurriedly running outside to join them.
The sky was clear, but the air was thick and the summer heat was bearing down on us. Some clouds lurking in the distance, far away from the cliff and bearing no real threat. At the time, the worst we thought may happen is sheer heat exhaustion.
But as Livewire climbed up and hooked his leg underneath one of the last steps as a safety measure while he threw his shoes over the line, the following moments would betray that.
We knew Livewire was easily swayed by others and that his daredevil attitude came as a habit of wanting to impress even when he didn't need to, we'd done it many times before without major incident. But he often took things too far of his own accord, emboldened by the excitement and cheers.
In this case, when he successfully got his shoes over the power-lines and we erupted with cheers, he decided to go a step further.
He pulled on the wires to prove they weren't active.
There was a spark, his body tensed up and smoke erupted from his body and for whatever reason, maybe even shock, I kept my camera unflinchingly on him as he sizzled and gurgled while our younger selves screamed.
After a few seconds, his body fell limp and we watched in horror as the once steadfast leg locked into the bar slipped out and he plummeted to the floor below, the sickening thud sending shockwaves through us and making us rush to him as the camera blurs and cuts out.
Millie: Even now, that's horrifying to look back on, the sound of his shock and even the smell of his body...
Warren: Makes me wanna dry heave, but not as much as what we did after seeing him like that.
Preston: Yeah, I'm not sure I wanna see it again.
Fay: I know, but we're going to.
Millie: We need to.
Preston: Yeah, we have to...
00:45 - The camera cuts to feet dashing through the trail as frantic voices call out to one another. Thunder and lightning can be heard rolling in as they get further and further away.
“Fuck… FUCK! WHY DID WE LEAVE HIM?!” Warren was bent over, dry heaving and punching his head.
“Because he was fucking DEAD, Warren. We’ve got to focus on what we do now. How we cover this up.” Mathias looked back at the house and Fay zoomed in on him through shaky hands. He looked resolved, distant.
“Cov- Cover it up? We have to fucking TELL someone!” Millie was shaking, pulling at the ends of her sleeves nervously, looking around at the group as they looked away, shamefully. “… Right?”
There was a pause, Warren speaking first.
“I already fucked up once, it cost me everything. I can’t fuck up again, guys. I can't do that to my mom... I'm all she has.” He clenched his fists and looked down, rain falling and causing his mohawk to flatten. “Do whatever you have to, I’m out.”
He walked off, Preston a few feet behind him, tears in his eyes and shaking his head.“I know we did wrong, but I have a good future… I can’t let this get in the way. If he's gone, he's gone.” He sighed. “I hate myself for saying that, but what else can we do?”
Millie stood there, indignant. “Tell the truth. We can tell the fucking truth!”
“That would cause more harm than good, Millie. We’d ALL go down for it and I don’t think any of us can handle that.” Fay called from behind the camera, fear breaking her voice as she spoke. “We were never meant to be here, what happened to him was our fault. If we tell someone, it could so easily come back on us. None of us were supposed to be out, we knew he had a propensity to go too far and we pushed him… fuck…” Tristan pinched the bridge of his nose and breathed heavily, Fay putting out a hand to comfort him, but Millie getting there first and hugging him tight, whispering something to him. She lingered for a moment on the shot of the two of them before putting the camera down to her feet as they walked away, cutting to black.
Millie: All that anger didn’t do much in the end, did it? Mathias was right, we were cowards and we deserve some kind of justice.
Warren: Maybe, but we were just kids. What were we supposed to do? The guy was dead.
Fay: No, he wasn’t.
I took a deep breath and tried to put my mind in a safer place, remembering better times, fun birthdays and meaningful songs.
I was about to see him again.
01:55 - The camera switches on, it’s the dead of night and Tristan trudges up the hill, panting and seemingly anxious. The moon hangs high overhead, a singular luminous eye following his trajectory and I swear I can see ripples around it, as if something is stirring in the infinite void, black clouds could be seen in the distance. Like it knows why he’s come back.
He stops short of going through the large steel door, letting the camera linger while catching his breath.
“I know this is stupid, I know everything about what I’m going to do is stupid. Breaking in, filming… what happens next, but…”
He turns the camera towards his face, a far more youthful Tristan staring back as my stomach contacts and I feel a sharp pang rip through my heart.
My baby brother.
“I can’t do this. I need to know if… if he’s… and if he is, I need to do the right thing. Then, I’ll take the tape to the Sheriffs county, or leak it online or… or… I don’t know, I just need to make sure that if someone has to pay for this… it’s me.” He pauses again, eyes welling up with tears before he tries to crack a smile. “Who knows? Maybe ol’ Livewire is pulling a prank, and he’s totally fine, ready to punk me. Maybe it’s not so bad and we can laugh this off when he’s better!” This last pause has his lips trembling, breathing heavily and holding back sobs as he swallows. “But if he’s as bad as I think he is, if it’s beyond help… I’ll make sure the right thing is done. For him. For us.”
He wipes his eyes and sniffs deep, shaking his head slightly before nodding and turning the camera back to the door, the key clunking in the old lock before giving way as he gingerly opens it, careful not to make too much noise.
The camera points down, but we know where he’s going, what he’s seeing.
A charred spot from so many days prior, the entire building shrouded in darkness. What was once our safe haven now just an imposing structure with lingering death. Dried blood caking the rotted wood and fell through the cracks to the floor below. The floor lined with scratches in the floorboards where someone had dug their nails in, dragging themselves desperately to safety, food or maybe even help. He followed it to the adjacent room, and the camera shook for a moment, lingering on the imposing frame leading to where Livewire lay.
The camera panned up, and we saw the charred, still living remains of Dallas “Livewire” Mendoza. His flesh charred in places and his body frail, malnourished and sickly. If he noticed Tristan coming in, he didn’t show it. Breathing softly, the exhalation like that of rusty bellows, Tristan put the camera on the floor beside him as he knelt at Livewire’s side, sobbing.
Millie: So he wasn’t lying… Oh, Tristan… Why?
Warren: He felt the same thing we all did, that immense guilt that we did something wrong. Amplified by the idea that maybe he was okay, just needed some extra help, but…
Preston: But he didn’t account on how bad it was. Fuck, why did he do this on his own?
Fay: Because he wanted to protect us all, he felt it was his words that sealed Livewires fate and so it was his responsibility to go back. I had tears in my eyes as we watched the footage, my twin and better half a broken boy trying to do what was right. This dismal room letting in no light, a small makeshift bed of discarded clothes and magazines we’d read on kinder days now propping up only part of Livewire’s body, a disused wardrobe with a filthy mirror covered in large smudges laying in the corner. This was where Livewire had spent the last few days of his life, and the crippling loneliness of that moment crushed me entirely.
Warren: Well, we know what happens next. Should I turn it off? He got up to reach for the remote and pause, but I put a gentle hand on his, shaking my head.
Fay: We watch it in full, we owe it to Tristan…and to Dallas.The group nodded solemnly and we continued watching, all of us sat forward with our hands ringing together.
There was only one thing left.
02:00 - After some time, Tristan slung the backpack he’d been carrying off of his back and pulled out a couple of items; a prized copy of smash bros. melee that he & Livewire had spent countless hours beating each other senseless on, a pair of coins, a photo we’d taken of the group some weeks prior…
And a pillow.
Placing all the items by his side, tears still running down his face, Tristan grabbed the pillow and looked into Livewires face one last time. The shallow, pained breathing unchanged.
“I’m so, so sorry, Dallas.” He whispered, before pushing the pillow onto his face.
There are few things we have witnessed in this world that match the sheer horror of watching a friend, a loved one, a sibling commit murder, even if it’s a mercy killing. Tristan never stopped weeping, he didn’t lose focus or become violent, but he held his grip tight as the already weak struggles from Dallas grew weaker as the seconds dragged into minutes.
But it was what we saw in the mirror that cemented our fear, steeled our resolve, and brought our anger to fresh heights.
That huge, unsightly smudge in the mirror was not a smudge.
It was a person, holding themselves up in the door frame behind Tristan and gleefully swinging like a child at the park.
It was Mathias. A deranged, younger, joyful Mathias stood over one of his best friends and, like the most depraved peeping tom, leered at the sight of the murder. His hair normally pinned back in a neat bun, now wild and greasy, covering his face and painting a far less composed individual. He simply swung in place as Tristan held the pillow down long after Dallas stopped moving before leaning over his friend and sobbing harder, apologising profusely. After a few moments, he placed the coins on his eyes, put the pendant over his neck and laid the game on his chest.
He was giving him a proper burial.
Millie: How in the fuck did Mathias know all this and NEVER say anything? Didn’t he say he felt guilty before?
Fay: Yeah, his desire to put this all into motion was because he felt we deserved to be punished for what happened to livewi- to Dallas, that our lies had consumed us and what we did warranted justice.
Warren: How that creepy fuck got away with it is beyond me though, wouldn’t Tristan have noticed him there?
Preston shook in his seat and when we turned to him, we saw that same fear he’d shown during his own show “Name That Anomaly”.
Preston: It’s just like last time, this isn’t real.
His hands shook, and he pointed before adding;
02:05 - Once Tristan had finished, the form of Mathias silently let his body drop to the floor before standing up and tiptoeing across the room and towards Tristan. His hands raised and fingers gnarled into claws, he looked ready to pull at any appendage Tristan had within his reach. But, just as he reached out, Tristan moved and picked up the camera to leave.
When he turned it back towards the doorway, there was nothing there.
I couldn’t tell you if Tristan had sensed something or if it was just timing, but he sighed for a moment before putting his backpack on and preparing to leave the building. As he did, the sounds of thunder and lightning could be heard overhead. He muttered a curse before the thunder clap scared him enough to drop the camera. We get a shot of him stumbling back and staring up at something as the lightning strikes and the whole building is illuminated.
On every wall, every piece of furniture and every previously unseen speck of wood was writing. Red writing.
“YOUR TURN.” lined the walls over and over.
A spark had been set and the red glow of the fire rose up in front of Tristan and across the stairs rapidly, the rotting wood providing excellent kindling for the hungry blaze to consume.
Dumbstruck, Tristan reached for the camera before seeing the blaze rip through the foundations and running for the door, most likely cutting his losses that the footage would be gone.
This was the night our hideout burned down and many of us, though terrified and still guilt-ridden, breathed a sigh of relief.
The shot lingered on the door as he ran out; the image flickering as the flames drew closer before the camera was raised from the floor and picked up, zooming in on Tristan as he ran away.
“Run away from your guilt, wallow in your shame, our time will come, they’ll know our name.” The voice cooed.
The camera switched to the scorched face of JJ as his flesh melted, the beams dropping from the ceiling and crashing into the wood, the red signs declaring “YOUR TURN” beginning to glow, almost throbbing in the light.
“Here’s the beginning, now we have the end. Mantis Reach. Tonight.”
His smile grew as teeth blackened, fell out and black blood flowed down his face, filling his mouth as images of the older footage inter spliced rapidly, the fires consuming his face as images of all of us laughing together played.
A young Millie showing off her lucky cat’s paw, brand new and accompanying a box of dead animals she was studying, much to the group’s disgust.
His smile stayed wide, the lips peeling.
Preston bringing foods he’d baked with his mom, Tristan nudging Fay and whispering something before the both of them warmly smiled and nodded.
His eyes sank into their sockets, the white flesh bubbling and melting, running down his face.
Warren, head banging to a record and flailing like a madman as we clapped, laughed and eventually joined in.
His hair singed, falling out in clumps as the scalp reddened and split. Something behind him stirs in the smoke.
Tristan and Fay imitating the fusion dance and operating as a multi-limbed being, speaking in unison and heartily laughing.
The figure behind him moves closer, awkwardly dragging its limbs in and out of focus.
Mathias hooking up a projector so the gang could play Mario Kart together, the whole group thanking him and patting his back. He looked genuinely overwhelmed.
The corpse of Dallas moved into view and stood beside JJ as the two continued to melt.
The final image being that of Dallas and Mathias standing shoulder to shoulder in the archived footage alongside Dallas & JJ’s fetid corpses, a pair of raspy voices echoing as the camera footage grew twisted and corrupted before shutting off.
“Upon Mantis Reach, you will look Beneath The Static. One last time.”
We sat in silence for a long time, no dramatic vomit, screaming or shouting. Just deafening silence as we processed it in our own way. Maybe we were just desensitised after so long and seeing so much, I don’t know. But the calm was unnerving for us all. We were hoping for some kind of large, Earth shattering revelation.
But instead, we simply had our guilt laid bare as well as confirming what I think we all knew; Tristan took the ultimate sacrifice for us.
Warren: Well, I guess we know what we have to do next, right?
He stood up, stretched and sighed, hunching his shoulders.
Preston: We have to go back. But isn’t the place gone? What else could be there now?
Millie: I think it’s more than that. I think we need to face this head on, whatever it is. We need to come to terms with what happened as well as acknowledging our part in this. I don’t know about you, but I want to sleep well at night all the time, not some of the time.
We nodded, but I felt a sickness I hadn’t felt since that day.
Preston: What if we don’t make it out? What if whatever is there takes us all one by one?
Fay: Well, then we’ll die knowing we did the right thing. Even if it’s over a decade too late.
We hugged for what felt like an eternity, the bonds between us all still strong and I swear I could feel someone’s hands on my shoulders, those of the people we left behind.
Setting off later that night, we arrived at the cordoned off dirt trail leading to Mantis Reach, a slew of messages from “CONDEMNED” to telling us to stay away under penalty of law. We clipped open the gate and trudged up the trail, no laptop to dictate but instead a nifty dictaphone Millie brought with her from work.
Millie: We use it all the time for patient reports, figured it may come in handy.
When we reached the summit and stared at the spot where our hideout had once stood, the gravity and finality of the situation hit us all like a freight train. There was no storm, no heavy rain, no ominous backdrop to greet us.
But there was a building.
It towered into the sky, several floors high. Some with blacked-out windows and other glowing with a faint purple light. A broadcast tower attached to the roof and a neon sign latched to the side of the building as we heard the glass doors beep and slide open for us.
It was a broadcast station and as that name flashed at me; I felt a chill run through my bones.
This was it.
“Beneath The Static.”
submitted by tjaylea to nosleep

A Complete Introductory Guide to Map tactics & Agents in Valorant

A Complete Introductory Guide to Map tactics & Agents in Valorant

A Complete Introductory Guide to Maps & Agents


Hey guys, I'm Twix, and I'm back with another informative post, this time concerning the aspect of Maps & Agents. If you haven't read through any of my posts before ( I wouldn't they're too long ) I am an FPS player which mainly played CS:GO competitively, with around 7k hours and multiple level 10 faceit accounts and LAN wins in the past 5 years, who transitioned towards the end of my CS:GO days into being an FPS coach, I mainly worked with people trying to gain a competitive edge in CS, but later moved to coaching Apex players, and following the closed beta release of Valorant, I have been coaching Valorant players for the past few months, with unanimously positive feedback. In relation to other qualifications / achievements, I have hit top 30 as hitscan DPS in Overwatch, maintained top 500 ranking in Apex ( PC ) for a couple of seasons, and hold numerous 1% rankings on various Kovaak's FPS Aim Trainer maps. My main goal in creating these posts is to contribute to the Valorant community by sharing my knowledge gained over 10k collective hours of FPS experience ( mainly Tactical fps ) and hopefully help the people reading my posts improve and gain that competitive edge they need to progress into their desired ranking. For those of you interested in learning more about my coaching service, or looking for a community of Valorant players looking to improve, I will link my Discord server at the end of this post.
If you want access to my complete "Intro to Aim training & Valorant" guide, it is now available on google docs, here : Intro to Aim Training & Valorant Mechanics
I am making a seperate post to address optimal map tactics and agent information, as my complete guide (which includes both + so much more) might be too lengthy / wordy for a lot of people, honestly, it ended up looking more like a book than a guide, which is why I included it in a seperate document.

What is included in this guide?

This guide is meant to help you all comprehend the core mechanics in Valorant better. I will try my best to elaborate upon the game’s fundamentals and most important aspects. This section will go over: Agents & Abilities, Maps & Tactics, The importance of crosshair placement, Sensitivity, and finally the correct structure for aim training routines related to Valorant. Enjoy!

Agents & Abilities

There are currently 11 agents available to the player in Valorant, all with a different set of abilities and a different individual role within a team composition, this aspect of Valorant is what makes it stand out when compared to other tactical shooters such as counterstrike. In order for a team to be effective in their role as an attacker or defender, they must play off of each other's agent abilities in order to efficiently push into or defend a bomb site. In the pages below you will find a list of all the agents currently in the game.

Purchasable: Snake Bite and Poison Cloud – Snake Bite fires a projectile that creates a damaging pool of acid, while Poison Cloud fires a projectile that creates a toxic cloud of gas. You can pick up the projectile from Poison Cloud and use it again after a cooldown, as long as you have sufficient fuel.
Signature: Toxic Screen – Launches a line of gas emitters that you can trigger to create a wall of gas. You can reuse this ability as long as you have sufficient fuel.
Ultimate: Viper’s Pit – Use a chemical sprayer to fire a chemical cloud surrounding Viper. Players inside the cloud will take damage and suffer reduced vision.
In-game Role: Viper is a Controller, while playing her your focus should be based on setting up your defenses/traps in a way that makes it difficult for the opposing team to push into site, or defend a site. Your abilities don’t deal a lot of damage, so they’re best used as “space makers” allowing you to cut line of sight for crucial defender or attacker angles, or setting up your toxins to block a path. Unlike the other agents, Viper has a unique mechanic which you’ll have to keep an eye on, her fuel level. Toxic Screen and Poison Cloud require fuel, so if you use these abilities too early, you’ll quickly drain your supply. In most cases, Viper’s abilities are best used defensively, particularly when setting up for a post-plant defense.
Tips: Viper doesn’t take damage from her abilities other than snake bite e.g. You can play inside your “Poison Cloud” if you want to use it slightly more aggressively. Although most of Viper’s abilities are best in a defensive context, her ability to deny line of sight can be used aggressively as long as you take the time to learn a couple important line-ups for each map.


Purchasable: Updraft and Cloudburst – Updraft spawns a gust of air like Tailwind, though it propels you upward, allowing you to reach otherwise unreachable places. Cloudburst fires a projectile that expands into a cloud, blocking the vision of anyone caught on the wrong side. You can also curve Cloudburst by holding down the ability key.
Signature: Tailwind – Use a strong gust of air to dash in the direction you’re moving.
Ultimate: Blade Storm – Spawns a range of floating daggers that resupply when you kill an enemy. You can throw the daggers one at a time or unleash all of them in a burst, and they kill instantly on a headshot. (Pretty much only useful during eco rounds)
In-game Role: Jett is one of the most versatile agents in Valorant when it comes down to movement mechanics. In-game, she’s marked as a Duelist (like phoenix, reyna, raze), and while she certainly does do well in aggressive situations, she’s best played as a secondary fragger rather than an entry. Her abilities “Cloudburst” and “Updraft” are great repositioning tools that can be used either defensively or aggressively, and allow you to position yourself in an area that’s unexpected to the opponent. Your “Updraft” ability makes a pretty loud sound that the enemies can hear if they’re within footstep range, so make sure that you use it before the round begins if you want a positional advantage. The new and improved “Cloudburst” smokes allow you to cut off line of sight for 7 seconds and are great for aggressively denying the enemy team angles while attacking, paired with her “Tailwind” dash, you can deny trades quite easily with Jett.
Tips: If you’re an operator player, definitely pick up Jett. Her “Tailwind” dash ability allows you to rapidly reposition behind cover after an OP shot, eliminating the risk of you being killed while chambering another round into the operator.


Purchasable: Trapwire and Cyber Cage – Trapwire, as the name implies, allows you to shoot a tripwire that will reveal and daze any enemies who walk through it. You can pick up the tripwire if it hasn’t been destroyed and redeploy it, too. Cyber Cage deploys a cage in front of Cypher that blocks vision. The cage will also make a noise when enemies pass through.
Signature: Spycam – Spycam allows you to fire a camera in the direction that you’re aiming. If you reuse the ability, you can take control of the camera and fire marking darts at your enemies to reveal their location until they manually remove the dart.
Ultimate: Neural Theft – Use intel from a dead enemy to reveal the locations of all living enemies.
In-game Role: Cypher is an agent that shines in his ability to gather information on the enemy team’s positions above all else. Cypher’s strength is undoubtedly his role in defensive situations. When playing Cypher defensively, you should always make sure you have your tripwires and camera set up in a way that makes it as difficult as possible for the enemy to push into the position you’re holding without being revealed. While playing on the attacker’s side, Cypher is best played as a lurker, setting up traps to deny enemy flanks, and trying to figure out optimal paths for his own flank.
Tips: As cypher always make sure you cover as many LOS (line of sight) as you possibly can simultaneously. Set up his tripwires in near proximity to his smokes, this allows you to activate a smoke whenever an enemy walks into your tripwire, giving you the ability to shoot at a slowed target while simultaneously cutting off their LOS on your position.


Purchasable: Stim Beacon and Incendiary – Stim Beacon spawns a field in front of Brimstone that grants RapidFire (increased fire rate) to anyone inside. Incendiary allows you to use a grenade launcher that fires incendiary grenades. These grenades don’t explode on impact. Rather, they burst shortly after coming to a stop, creating a damaging fire zone.
Signature: Sky Smoke – Using a tactical map, Sky Smoke allows you to deploy smoke clouds from the sky. These clouds last for a while, and in the process, obscure enemy lines of fire.
Ultimate: Orbital Strike – Orbital Strike allows you to fire a laser from the sky using a selected location on the map. The laser deals damage over time to anyone caught inside.
In-game Role: Brimstone (like viper) is a controller, yet the role he fills in-game is quite different. As Brimstone, your role is to support your teammates by cutting off enemy LOS either to deny enemy vision while defending, or to cut off threatening positions to make it easier for your team to push into a bombsite. Stim Beacon (post-update) is highly situational but allows you to “buff” your team’s fire-rate which makes it easier to spray through walls or shoot down sage walls faster. Your “Incendiary” or, molly, is great as a long lasting area denial tool. As Brimstone, your goal is to deny the enemy team’s ability to hold threatening angles, allowing your teammates to easily push into a bombsite, or defend one.
Tips: If you want to main brimstone, or at least play him at a high level, take the time to watch a couple of YouTube videos on optimal smoke placements and post-plant molly line-ups, it’s 100% worth it. Your molly lasts approximately 7 seconds, and being able to delay a defuse by 7 seconds from a location where the enemy can’t kill you is huge, paired with your ultimate this allows you to deny a defuse extremely effectively at any rank.


Purchasable: Barrier Orb and Slow Orb – Barrier Orb spawns a solid wall wherever you fire it, while Slow Orb creates a field that slows players and prevents jumping. Note that Slow Orb applies to all players, not just your enemies.
Signature: Healing Orb – Incredibly versatile, Healing Orb allows you to heal yourself or your teammates. A standard shot will administer healing over time to a teammate in your crosshairs, while alternative fire will heal Sage.
Ultimate: Resurrection – Resurrection allows you to revive a dead teammate. The process takes time, however, so make sure to put up a wall or hold your angles when using this ability.
In-game Role: Sage is Valorant’s medic agent, which you can tell in an instant when reading her abilities. She’s an excellent agent to start as if you’re new to Valorant. While playing Sage, your role in-game is to stay alive as long as possible, playing in the back line, as the utility which you provide for your team is extremely impactful to the course of the round. Your slow orb and barrier orb should be used carefully and tactically in order to delay enemy pushes for as long as possible, with your slow orb lasting 7 seconds, and your barrier orb lasting a maximum of 30 seconds (600hp per wall segment), your ability to stall enemies pushing from a certain area while defending a bombsite or post-plant is extremely useful
Tips: As sage make sure to use your heal as often as possible but also not on players with <25 HP missing as the ability has a 45 second cooldown and is extremely useful in topping up the HP of your teammates (doesn’t regen shields). As a defender, make sure to play in positions where you can use your barrier orb to effectively delay an attacker push, e.g. B entrance on Haven.


Purchasable: Aftershock and Flashpoint – Aftershock allows you to shoot a charge through a wall, dealing damage to anyone on the other side of it. Flashpoint is a projectile flash ability that works similarly to Aftershock, blinding any players in it’s line of sight on the other side of the wall.
Signature: Fault Line – Spawns a seismic blast, which causes an earthquake in a straight line that stuns enemies standing in it’s AOE (area of effect) after a short delay. Can be used through walls.
Ultimate: Rolling Thunder – Unleashes a seismic charge in a forward cone in the direction you are facing that stuns opponents hit by it for approximately 7 seconds and launches them into the air. Can also be used through walls.
In-game Role: Breach is an Initiator, he is NOT an entry-fragger. I see a lot of lower rank people play Breach as an entry, popping his flash and pushing with it, but if you think about the range of his flash, and the delays that come with his “Fault Line” and “Aftershock” abilities, it becomes pretty clear that breach is meant to be an initiator. Your role as breach is to set up flashes, stuns, and area denial (using “Aftershock”) to make it easier for the duelists to push into a position. Breach’s ultimate “Rolling Thunder” is a great offensive tool for stunning everyone on bomb-site, resulting in a very easy push. Breach’s ultimate can also be used defensively as area denial while defending a bombsite post-plant, although this usage of his ult is not nearly as effective as it’s offensive counterpart.
Tips: When using your “Fault Line” stun or flashes, make sure to communicate with your teammates to let them know when they should push, also make sure to line your stun ability up in a way where it covers the largest area possible in the direction you’re aiming it at.


Purchasable: Boom Bot and Blast Pack – Boom Bot spawns a robot that explodes when it reaches an enemy. Blast Pack allows you to toss a satchel that sticks to any surface and explodes upon reactivation or after a set amount of time. The satchel deals no damage to you and can be used to propel you in your direction of choice.
Signature: Paint Shells – Toss a cluster grenade that deals damage to anyone nearby. Upon exploding, the grenade creates smaller projectiles, which damage enemies within the AOE.
Ultimate: Showstopper – Grants you a rocket launcher with a single insta-kill AOE projectile for a set amount of time. Shooting the rocket also propels you vertically for a short distance.
In-game Role: One of the current go-to duelists for competitive play, due to her ability to displace and damage enemies with her abilities. Raze is the only agent with 4 damage based abilities. Your role as Raze is to clear angles using your explosives and scout areas with your boombot to get information on the enemies’ whereabouts. Your boombot is very easy to shoot down and makes a loud distinct sound when it locks on to an enemy so it’s better used as a tool to gather info or clear a path you want to push. Your satchels can damage enemies in a small AOE so they can be used to clear corners, but are best used as a powerful repositioning / movement ability. Be careful not to deal damage to your teammates when using your satchels to reposition yourself.
Tips: Try to throw your nades in angles where the enemy isn’t given a lot of time to react to the incoming projectile, throw your nades further forward rather than in a large vertical arc. When using your ult, pair it with your satchels to propel yourself into the LOS you want to peek, don’t simply activate your ult and walk around with your rocket launcher as you can be killed before your rocket has time to reach the enemy you shot it at. Learn satchel hops.


Purchasable: Shrouded Step and Paranoia – Shrouded Step allows you to quickly teleport to a selected location within line of sight (short range), while Paranoia fires a blinding orb that obscures vision and deafens all players in it’s AOE. Paranoia can be used through walls.
Signature: Dark Cover – Select an area of the map to send out a (almost) global range “shadow orb” smoke.
Ultimate: From the Shadows – Teleport to a selected location on the map. During the teleport, Omen will appear as a Shade, which can be destroyed to cancel the teleport.
In-game Role: In game omen is best played as a lurker, but his kit allows him to be very versatile as he has 2 regenerating smokes per round that can be used globally to block LOS similar to how brimstone’s smokes would. Omen’s abilities allow him to reposition freely while lurking into an enemy flank or defending a bombsite. Make sure to use your “shrouded step” ability to teleport away from the location your enemies have last seen you at in order to set up in angles they least expect. Your blind ability applies a “nearsighted” debuff identical to that of Reyna’s “Leer” ability, it can go through walls and has quite wide large AOE. Your TP allows you to flank the enemy or rotate in an instant, something no other agent in the game has access to.
Tips: When playing omen, try to use your abilities in ways that confuse your enemies as much as possible. Think outside of the box, you can use your “Shrouded Step” to pull off tricks such as faking going into the teleporter in bind, or even fake TP so that the enemies hear the sound and assume you repositioned, but stay put in the same location to confuse them. As omen your smokes are hollow, meaning you can play inside them with full vision of anything within the smoke. You don’t need to use your ult to TP, it can be used for info.


Purchasable: Owl Drone and Shock Bolt – Owl Drone allows you to use an aerial drone to scout an area with the ability to tag them with a dart that tracks them and reveals their location for a short duration. Shock Bolt equips your bow with an electrically charged round that detonates upon collision and can be set to bounce up to two times.
Signature: Recon Bolt – Fire a recon bolt that shoots out three pulses that reveal enemy locations within a set range.
Ultimate: Hunter’s Fury – Fire three energy bolts in a straight line leading away from Sova. These blasts travel for a set (almost global) distance, ignoring walls, damaging enemies, and revealing the locations of anyone hit. Sova’s sensitivity is reduced while using the ult, and the location Sova is aiming toward is telegraphed.
In-game Role: Sova is described as an initiator, such as Breach, however the two agents’ roles are vastly different. As Sova your in-game role is similar to Cypher’s, but allows for a more aggressive playstyle. As Sova you want to prioritize gaining information on the enemy players’ positions throughout the round. Your recon bolt can be lined up to land into a bomb-site or other areas from a great distance, allowing you to scout an area without ever needing to expose yourself to the enemies defending it. Your owl drone also allows you to scout areas without exposing your player model, however, the drone makes a very loud sound when deployed, revealing sova’s location, and can only travel a set distance before running out of fuel / battery. Make sure that you’re behind cover or protected by your teammates when you’re in your owl drone.
Tips: There are many creative line-ups for Sova arrows, just like with Brimstone, you’ll benefit from watching a few YouTube videos on the matter.

Purchasable: Blaze and Curveball – Blaze shoots out a flame wall that moves in the direction which it’s fired in (you can curve the wall by holding the activation key while it shoots out and moving your mouse in the direction you want it to curve in), damaging any enemies that pass through it. Curveball tosses an orb of fire that curves around the object you’re standing behind / against and flashes enemies. Holding LMB will curve it to the left, while RMB will curve it to the right.
Signature: Hot Hands – This is basically the Phoenix equivalent of Brimstone’s molly, it can be thrown at less of a max distance however, but it also heals Phoenix if he stands in it. In my experience, you’ll be using this ability to heal more often than you’ll be using it aggressively.
Ultimate: Run It Back – Phoenix turns into a fire engulfed version of himself for a set amount of time, while your ultimate remains active, dying will respawn you back in the location you cast your ultimate in rather than fully killing you. This is basically a second life for Phoenix, your gun will have reloaded when you respawn, however if you got killed during your ult’s duration your armor will be gone.
In-game Role: Phoenix is Valorant’s bread and butter entry fragger, easy to pick up, but hard to master. Phoenix has a very simple well-rounded kit, an ability that blocks line of sight, and ability that can be used either as a heal or as an AOE molly, and a very straightforward flashbang. As phoenix your role in a team comp is to be the entry fragger, you want to be the one initiating pushes, you always want to be the first into a bombsite. If you don’t want to entry frag, don’t play Phoenix.
Tips: Be careful where you initiate your ult, there’s a short animation during your respawn which you can’t move during and makes it very easy for enemies to tap your head.

Passive: Soul Harvest – Enemies drop Soul Orbs when killed, these orbs last three seconds.
Purchasable: Leer and Devour – Leer shoots a destructible eye in the direction Reyna is aiming, applying the nearsightedness debuff (same as Omen’s blind) to anyone who’s looking at the orb’s direction . Devour allows you to consume a Soul Orb to rapidly heal over a set duration. You can heal past 100 with Devour, though any extra health will degrade over time.
Signature: Dismiss – Consume a Soul Orb to become intangible, and if Empress is active, invisible.
Ultimate: Empress – Drastically improve your fire rate, weapon swap speed, and reload speed for a set period of time. Killing an enemy while Empress is active renews the duration. Empress will also automatically cast Devour. Soul orbs won’t be consumed while the “Empress” buff is active.
In-game Role: Reyna is, as described, a feast or famine type agent, what this means is that depending on the player using her, she can either be extremely powerful, or extremely useless in a team comp. Reyna’s role in game is to be a fragger, her abilities allow her to both entry and lurk effectively, how you play her is up to you. Reyna is pretty straightforward in the sense that she has 0 team utility and her kit only benefits you greatly if you can chain kills consistently. Reyna is definitely not recommended to novice players, or players that aren’t confident in their mechanical skill or an aggressive playstyle.
Tips: Use her “Dismiss” ability instantly after getting a kill to deny the enemy team’s ability to trade off of their teammate’s death. Your “Devour” ability gives away your location, so always try to use it behind cover. You can also use “Devour” to bait enemies into peeking.

Agent recommendations for beginners

Best Agent Picks for Beginners
When you first download Valorant, you’ll have access to five agents: Brimstone, Jett, Phoenix, Sage, and Sova. You can unlock all of the remaining six agents either by completing their individual “agent contract” or buying them with in-game currency. By simply playing the game, you gain access to two free agent unlocks of your choice. Although all five of the starting agents are pretty accessible for novice players, there are three agents in specific which are easier to use.
Sova is the perfect starting agent for players coming from CS. With the amount of info to be gained from using his abilities, and the low skill-cap that they require, you don’t need to know too much about map design, e.g. you can get your recon bolt to land in any bomb-site with ease as long as you get used to the charge + arc. Playing as Sova allows you to experiment with different abilities without having to play too aggressively or expose yourself to enemy fire.
Sage is the only agent in Valorant entirely focused on healing and being a “support” character as defined in other games, every team comp needs a sage, and her support abilities aren’t difficult to use. If you have played Overwatch, you understand how crucial healers are to a team’s composition. Playing Sage will allow novice players to help the team through her extremely valuable abilities, without having to play aggressively or perform incredibly in terms of mechanics.
As mentioned earlier in his Agent description, Phoenix is your basic bread and butter entry fragger. Phoenix will appeal greatly to players who want to fill an aggressive role, but also don’t know too much about the maps or tactics. Phoenix allows you to rely on your mechanics and entry frag comfortably without having to rely too much on your team, his flash along with his self-heal and second life ultimate ability make Phoenix a great starting agent for anyone looking to learn how to play duelists.

Maps & Tactics

There are currently 4 maps in Valorant. Each map plays a little bit different in relation to the default defender setups, common attacker tactics, and optimal agent setup. In this section I will attempt to cover these three aspects as thoroughly as I can, without making the structure of information too dense to read with ease. Learning the maps and getting comfortable with the tactics that work best for each is a crucial aspect of getting good at Valorant, even things such as movement & crosshair placement are heavily influenced by the map you’re playing on. Enjoy!
Note: Sage won’t be included in the “crucial agent picks” section for each map, as she is a default pick regardless of the map, and yes, I know, “But TSM played without a Sage in their comp!”. You’re not TSM.


Default defender setup: Bind only has two bombsites, meaning that one of the sites will have an uneven amount of players defending it. In my opinion, it’s optimal to have three players defending A, with the defender holding “A short” able to take the “Teleporter” for a quick rotation into “hookah / b window” if the attackers are spotted pushing into B site. In conclusion, the “Default” setup for this map is 2-3, with 2 players holding bombsite B, and 3 players holding bombsite A, the positioning of these players depends on their agent picks.
Crucial Agent picks
Cypher - Due to the map structure forcing two people to play on B site, putting the defenders at a number disadvantage, Cypher is a great pick which compensates for the lack of a third player on B site with the utility and push delay that his abilities bring to the table. With his abilities fully bought, Cypher can easily control a push from hookah / B window, while his teammate watches B long. Cypher can either position his cam to give his teammate playing B long free info into the LOS, or he can place it high up back-site in order to watch for the hookah / window push.
Omen - Omen’s kit feels like it was made for this map, with the narrow pathways he can completely smoke off, his ability to trick enemies into thinking he entered the teleporter using his “shrouded step” ability, and his ability to reach vertically inaccessible positions with ease to catch his enemies off guard makes him an extremely solid pick for this map. Omen’s ult is also very strong on this map.
Map tips: Make sure you don’t over-rotate on this map, as it is very easy for attackers to abuse the teleporters and very quickly change their route even if they were initially pushing the opposite bombsite, unless you are certain that the enemy team has committed to pushing the site which you aren’t defending, hold your position.


Default defender setup: For “Split” the default defender setup in the current meta is a 2-2-1 format, 2 players playing on A, 2 players defending mid, and 1 player holding B. In the past, prior to the post-launch update to the map’s middle lane, It was viable for a setup where one person played “Vent” which allowed them to cover mid while also easily rotating to A quickly if need be. Currently, since it’s too easy to ability spam “Vent” and the position doesn’t allow for a lot of freedom of movement, It’s better to have 2 people play A ( perhaps 1 site, 1 rafters ) 2 people playing mail, and 1 person holding B from back site. If the B player spots enemies in main, the mail player(s) can easily rotate into B rafters / heaven to defend.
Crucial Agent picks
Cypher - Cypher is a perfect pick for this map, as he can fill the “solo B” defender spot extremely well, using his camera to watch “B main” for info, and setting up his trap wires to stall a potential push even further. Cypher’s camera also makes it easier to clear mid while attacking.
Sova - Split has tons of narrow pathways that lead to more open areas, It’s a very difficult map to push in without info, and due to the map’s design there is a lot of freedom for bouncing Sova arrows into important positions. His ult is also much easier to land on this map.
Map tips: Mid control is everything on Split, always have your sage player playing mid, along with another player. Sage should wall off mid every round to deny attacker pushes. If you lose mid on this map, the attackers will gain easy access to both sites. Usually if the attackers gain access to mid, they’ll push B through Rafters / heaven, as it is easier to do so than to push into A from Ropes.


Default defender setup: For this map, the default strat for defenders is a standard 2-1-2 setup, however, you can mix it up and have cypher solo hold A site if that’s what you feel like doing. Ideally on this map, you’ll have 2 players playing A, 1 player holding B (This should always be your sage as she can wall off the entrance to cut off enemy LOS + Delay a push for a maximum of 30 seconds) 1 player holding “C window / Garage window” and 1 player holding C site.
Crucial Agent picks
Breach - Due to the long LOS that you’re forced to push in order to take engagements on this map, Breach definitely comes in handy quite often as an attacker. Breach can very easily use his flash to set up for a push into “Garage” (marked as C short on the map above) and other such positions like “C cubby”. Breach’s ultimate also comes in handy on this map, mainly on attacker side, but it also works surprisingly well on defender side, if you’re playing “Garage” for example, you can ult towards attacker spawn for an easy ace if you are given info that they’re pushing toward you.
Brimstone - Due to the long LOS on this map, it’s very difficult to push into a site without the utility that Brimstone’s smokes bring to the table, pushing C long is very difficult if an OP player is holding from platform, same is an issue when pushing into A site and a defender is holding angles from “A tower / Window”. There are also tons of easy to learn post-plant molly line-ups for Brimstone on this map, which makes defending from retakes easier.
Map tips: Nothing too in depth here, Haven is the simplest map when it comes to rotations and strats. Make sure you hold positions without peeking too much, enemies can’t rotate from site to site as easily on this map, so they usually won’t split as much as in maps like bind or ironically enough “split”.


Default defender setup: This is Valoran’t newest map, and depending on the elo you’re playing in the setup you’re defending in may vary slightly, but In my opinion and experience, the setup which works best for me is a 2-2-1, with 2 players holding A site, 2 players playing mid, and 1 player playing B site ( this will either be your sage or your cypher ). The map is currently very OP dominated, as it has the largest open area (mid) out of all the maps currently in the game, which is why having 2 people hold mid works very well, besides, if your Sage / Cypher gives you info that enemies are pushing into B, the rotation from bottom mid into market is very quick.
Crucial Agent picks
Jett - Jett is a very clear cut winner as the most powerful duelist pick for this map. Due to her kit, Jett is the best agent to OP with as she can can easily reposition after she hits or even misses an OP shot. Jett’s updraft also allows her to gain advantageous positions while OP’ing (such as the boost from B lobby into A short), and her smokes simultaneously allow her to cut off enemy OP’er lines of sight. Jett thrives on Ascent.
Brimstone - Brimstone is a must have on Ascent, the reason Jett thrives on this open map, is also the reason why it’s almost impossible to hold / push through mid without having the utility which his smokes provide. Allowing the enemy operator players to abuse your team through maintaining mid control is a very easy way to lose a game on Ascent.
Map tips: Similar to Haven, rotating on this map from one site to another takes quite a while, therefore you shouldn’t be worried so much about players splitting between sites or rotating too often, but rather focus on mid control, as you would on Split. Losing mid control on this map almost always results in a lost round, keep in mind that if enemies decide to push through mid they’ll usually attack B site through Market. Always have your Brimstone smoke Top mid and B link at the start of the round to deny premature first bloods.

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