Martin Rank is a veteran journalist who formerly worked for the New York Times and now works on a freelance basis. He has pursued magic over the years, to varying degrees of success.
Martin Rank has long been noted by the Mountaineers for his cynical tendencies. Although Martin is quite blunt, he has consistently lent assistance to many magically adept individuals, such as the '94 Mountaineers. Having been a journalist since the '80s, Martin also has a strong sense of investigative instinct. This was evident, for example, when he decided to wear a wire to The Cagliostro’s final performance.
Martin remembers being inspired to be a journalist as a very small child, after growing up in the turbulent wake of President Kennedy’s assassination and the Watergate scandal. As a high school journalist, he uncovered stories of local corruption, eventually befriending a young reporter for the Times, Howard Doshen, who would go on to be his mentor.
Martin attended NYU and married his wife, Isabella. They had one child together, Sebastian. In 1981, he began working full-time at the Times, pursuing stories about missing children that eventually led him to the Brandon Lachmann case.
After an incident with magic and an Ackerly Green book at the local library made Martin permanently unrecognizable to his son, his marriage fell apart and he became an alcoholic. In 1988, he lost his job at the Times, and began freelancing to support himself while he continued to investigate Ackerly Green, eventually finding the '94 Mountaineers.
Martin was first encountered by recruits in the form of a newspaper clipping, during Fragment Four. After writing a brief article on Brandon Lachmann’s presumed death, he had become the subject of many harassing emails from The Devoted. Variances in his article, as posted by King Rabbit, and a different version of the same article, posted on Susan Lachmann’s website, allowed recruits to solve a puzzle in Fragment Four.
Martin played an important role in Phase Two. He sent an email to the Cagliostro, requesting assistance with a piece on corruption in New York City. Recruits, who had access to Cagliostro’s email account, recognized the name and address as that of the reporter from the Lachmann case.
Recruit Revenir suggested contacting Marty directly and handled the communication, initially pretending to be interested in Brandon Lachmann so as not to arouse suspicion. Martin responded with a dismissive email, stating, “Do you know that cult still has gullible folks emailing me this same thing every year? Let it go. A kid died. End of story. There’s nothing else down there now but grief and misery.” Afraid of losing Martin’s interest, Revenir changed tactics, admitting that recruits were aware he was interested in the Cagliostro and offered information he could use to obtain an interview. Martin was indeed interested, and recruits attempted to leverage the information they had gained from the Caglistro to bargain with him. Unfortunately, recruits were unable to come up with a deal before the events of the January 31st performance.
The Cagliostro initially ordered his assistant, Lauren Ellsworth, to ignore Martin’s queries. However, a week and a half before his final performance, The Cagliostro asked Lauren to invite Martin. Revenir sent Martin an email, letting him know of the invitation and wishing him luck, to which Martin responded that he knew Revenir was from the Mountaineers. Martin admitted that he had worked with the '94 Mountaineers until they “were blown to the six corners twenty years ago.” He offered to look through his files and help the current Mountaineers if he could.
The date of the final performance arrived, and Marty became increasingly nervous. He prepared a wiretap to record the event, hoping to capture some of the magic. After the event, Marty posted his experience on the Basecamp 33 Forum.
Martin broke the silence between phases with his post “The Quiet,” in which he discussed what he had been doing since The Cagliostro’s final performance. He had tracked down The Cagliostro’s apartment, which had been ransacked, with its walls torn open. He had also traveled to Missouri to find Lauren’s parents, learning she had visited them once in February. Additionally, he had looked into Kemetic Solutions, the host of The Cagliostro’s email server, but hit a brick wall. After answering questions the recruits had about his ties to the '94 Mountaineers, he left them to find more information from his contacts and seek answers to the mysteries surrounding The Cagliostro.
Marty’s investigation ultimately culminated in “The Office of Kemetic Solutions,” where Marty revealed that he had finally tracked Kemetic Solutions down through their IRS documentation. He took a trip to their headquarters, which were just outside of Boston, and took pictures of the outside of the building. After being turned away by the office staff, he posted the pictures he had. After posting, he noticed that the photos were glitched, but assumed it was a product of his ancient flip phone.
Marty popped in from time to time during Fragment Ten, making comments on recruits’ progress as they realized the glitches in Marty’s photos were actually a digitally altered message from an individual named Aether, sending them to a website for Kemetic Solutions. When Aether led recruits to his best friend, Constance, Marty confirmed the information she had given to recruits about The Low, with which he had also been involved. Using the information provided to recruits from Aether’s videos and Constance’s comments, Marty was able to track down Aether’s family and learn that his parents had been brainwashed into believing he had been sent to a “special new school,” where he was “doing very well.” Through this, and speaking to Constance, recruits learned that Aether was a young man who had been abducted by Kemetic Solutions due to his skills as an adept who could leave his body and control technology.
As Aether led recruits through a series of puzzles after escaping Kemetic Solutions in his digital form, Marty reappeared after one of Aether’s clues referenced an individual named “B Sanvig.” The name, which led to a bit.ly link of a picture posted on the Go-Getters website, was the location of the mental health facility where Augernon was staying. Marty had previously tried to visit Augie, but had failed, not knowing his real-life name. Now, knowing his true name and that Aether wanted to contact him, Marty volunteered to drive to the facility to speak with him.
Although Marty was willing to travel to see Augie, he mentioned his concerns that the man would be unresponsive. In response, Aether found a spell called the Consolatory Teatime for Misplaced Memory and gave recruits access to it. Using the spell, Marty was able to travel to Go-Getters and speak to Augie by returning his memories to him for a brief time. Augie became fully lucid for the brief time he was with Marty, explaining the history of the Book of Briars and The Churning Storm. However, by the end, Augie had a seizure and was pushed out of the room by orderlies. Feeling like he was being watched, Marty hurried out of the facility and transcribed the events for recruits to read.
After returning to the city, Marty noticed a strange email in his inbox. The email was from someone calling themselves Whistler, a Kemetic Solutions employee who claimed to have been brainwashed by the company but had woken up after an accident that injured their head. Marty coordinated with recruits to ask them questions.
With the support of the Mountaineers, Marty continued to assist with Whistler’s communications. When Whistler devised a plan to infiltrate Kemetic Solutions, using a brief server maintenance as a window to enter the facility unnoticed, Marty and Aether agreed to help. Marty received a message from Aether, telling him to upgrade his phone, after which Marty purchased a smartphone and a Bluetooth headset.
On May 31, Marty and Aether successfully entered Kemetic Solutions, meeting Whistler at the door. Marty instantly recognized Whistler as Sacha, but handed the phone to her anyway. Whistler left with the phone, to go downstairs, taking it to a firewall-protected cell, before she left to restart Kemetic Solution’s security system. Theodore Fallon’s voice rang out from an intercom, mocking Marty, stating that Whistler had never really woken up and that it had all been a plot to get Aether back, as well as trap Marty. Then, he revealed that the reason Marty had always drawn magiqal people and events to him was because he was a [well]https://forum.ackerlygreen.com/t/wiki-well), an individual who attracts great amounts of magiq. In response, Marty revealed that Aether had always been safe in a Bluetooth headset, and had been both live streaming the event to Mountaineers and transferred gigabytes of top-secret Kemetic Solutions data to a safe location. However, the confrontation with Teddy was cut short by an attack from The Churning Storm on the building.
Marty rushed to find Portencia and Climber, two captive adepts about whom Aether had told the Mountaineers, and assured them that he was there to save them. Meanwhile, Aether found his body in the office, and met back up with the group. The Storm looming, Portencia urged Climber to take her to Kemetic Solutions’ magiq-channeling throne, so that she could perform a spell to take them all to a safe place. Aether stayed back, to fend off the Storm, while the others worked, and Marty and Climber escorted Portencia to the room. Marty ran back to grab Aether and the Storm hit, cutting off the livestream.
Once the livestream cut off, Portencia opened a magical door, through which she, Martin, and the other prisoners entered. When they emerged, they had jumped forward one month in time.
Afterwards, Marty managed to take all of the former Kemetic Solutions prisoner to the beach house of his ex-wife, Isabella, where they would be safe from the Storm.
During the final attack against the Storm, Marty volunteered to sacrifice himself to the storm to bring back [The Book of Briars]https://forum.ackerlygreen.com/t/wiki-the-book-of-briars). Because he by this time knew that he was a well, he thought that he was powerful enough to be traded for the 1998 version of the Book. Cole, realizing that he would do this, pushed him into Neithernor instead, cutting him off from the Storm until it was destroyed.
After The Monarch Papers
The Secret Society
The Mountaineers received two updates from Martin during the events of The Secret Society. The first, a post called “A Quick Check-In,” let everyone know that Aether, Port, and Alison were all living together and safely recovering after their run-in with the Storm. He noted, though, that they were all struggling to use their adept powers, the strength of which seemed to be fading. He also told the Mountaineers of a new relationship with an informant from the Low, where he had learned of the existence of a “Mountaineer Fan Club.” A transcript from a “fan club” thread proved helpful in solving one of the Secret Society puzzles.
In the summer of 2019, the Mountaineers attempted to contact Marty after learning that they were being shielded from the rest of the world by some kind of “leaden veil.” After Saberlane found that he was thwarted and disoriented every time he tried to physically find Martin’s apartment, the Mountaineers decided to reach out to him through the Neithercouriers. From his response, the Mountaineers learned that Martin had believed himself to have been cut off from the Mountaineers on purpose, and had been using the past year to reconnect with his son and grandchildren. However, he had been in contact with an emissary of Lauren’s, which enabled him to share information of the mystery determiner that was keeping people out of the forum, and give the instructions to find it which would eventually lead to the Cataclysm spell.
Martin said he had also experienced similar feelings of disorientation while trying to find the Ackerly Green office, and worried about the Kemetic Solutions trio, had driven to where they were staying, only to find them all packed up and gone.
The Book of Briars
In March of 2020, an update from Eaves explained that Martin had been traveling around New York City on Lauren’s behalf, planting magimystic “objects of personal and noted power” near ancient stone columns around the city to “create temporary leylines between the column material’s points of origin and their final forms.” This was in an attempt to discover how the rules of magic had changed with the beginning of the new age. According to Martin, these experiments helped her to determine that “many or most of the rules of magic are being rewritten or possibly being realigned with their once ‘true rules,’” now that the Book of Briars has been opened.