RP A Good Which, or a Bad Which?

She was.

She was happy about it, too, taking delight in existence. A little thing, something that flowed and shifted and grew and changed. It could have been horrifying, but these were not the sorts of people to be horrified by whatever was happening in front of them. Gail watched her take on an appearance, one that wasn't so different from her own. It wasn't what she'd expected, but she didn't really know what to expect, here. Neither did she, of course, but that was half of the point.

"Getting your Self figured out? That's good. You don't have to hurry. There's a saying out there somewhere about it being a lucky day, when you learned something new. I think you've got a lot of luck ahead of you." She sat down on the floor in front of the tiny dancer, offering a smile that was not so different from Strings' - the same sharpness, the same unbridled excitement. "You can call me Gail." A Name, or at least part of one - it was a risk, but risk was what they were all about here. If the little one learned by example, well, she'd be having her own adventures soon enough.

Strings had gone under, supported more or less by Joshua's quick hand propping him unceremoniously in the chair, pulling out a tourniquet and stopping the flow of blood, since there was certainly enough of that around now. A few neat stitches sealed the incision - not too many, because it had just been a little thing that needed to come out. A bandage, nothing unstandard. "Cait?" Another name, but not necessarily for the young one - but they were using names here, and maybe it mattered that she heard them, and learned to think of them as something normal and not something to be guarded so preciously.

"Yep. Ready." She was seated on the floor, an IV needle poked into her arm in much the same place as Strings' incision, leading to an IV pack that had filled up over time while all the rest of this was going on. Cait might have been the smallest of the team, but she was also an occultist and an O-negative, which made her a multiversal donor. Joshua sealed the pack off, then set on a clean needle for transfusion, because he was a professional doctor even if he was a member of the Locusts.

Cait, for her part, stayed seated on the floor, applying a Finding Nemo band-aid to her elbow and taking a drink through a straw. She looked up after a moment, then pulled another carton from the pack with a picture of an apple on it, which she held out in offering to the perfect little soul in front of her. "Juice box?"

You weren't really supposed to give things to anomalies or entities without permission - but hey, what was wrong with a little forbidden fruit?
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Anima hadn’t thought she’d enjoy being seen, back before she was Anima, but as Gail watched her there was little that would bring her down, and the eyes only seemed to lift her spirit more. So joyous was she that it never once crossed her mind to try to tie up the Name in a bow, because of course Gail had her Name already, so what was the point of a two-way street?

Bare feet frolicked about the space allowed within the circle; she avoided the edge by instinct alone. She spun until she’d dizzied herself and then she went down beside Cait, which was a beautiful name but she already had a beautiful name and was was she supposed to do with a second, anyway? Besides, Cait had a juicebox, and Anima took it without question. She glanced at Cait’s to make sure she was doing it right, with the straw and the hole and the grip so it didn’t squeeze too tightly. She was an excellent mimic – such was she at her soul.

“Yes, please.”

Rules about giving and taking were far from the exuberant youth’s mind as she listened to being, and But he had given her some manner of manners, and she wanted Cait to know that, even as she watched the others set about their business to help her father survive.

And he would survive. She knew it, somehow. Maybe it was the people, or the unbridled optimism of her own survival, but he’d be fine. He’d have to go away for a little, but when he came back he’d be here for her. She was so sure in that unfounded and unbounded knowledge that she hardly even seemed concerned for him, even as her black-and-red eyes watched the doctor at work.

But she was distracted from that as she actually took a sip of the apple juice, and was abruptly exposed to the concept of taste. She knew the methods of eating; she had followed the blood for so long that she’d have to be very stupid not to. But the taste was new, and she held it in her mouth and swished it around a few times and then swallowed, and then tried to laugh again while she swallowed and coughed instead. She never lost their smile, even as she remembered that her air pipe had to be clear of things that weren’t air for her to breathe again, and repaired it – though whether it was the coughing or a small adjustment somewhere under the skin, out of sight and out of mind, would be difficult to tell.

And then, lesson half-learned, she dared to laugh again a little – but before she took her next sip, not after.

Caught up in listening and watching, she didn’t have many words at the moment, so wonderful was that experience of being. But someone else was watching, too – had been since Gail rose from the table, although by that point there was not really a point in acting. Now that it all seemed to have settled, however, the attention also settled on the existences that had until a few moments ago been shared.

Agent Connor’s phone rang.
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The juice box didn't kill her, but maybe it was a closer thing than Strings would have liked. Fortunately, he'd escaped consciousness for a while and wasn't here to fuss about it. The Herself seemed to be satisfied to explore the boundaries of the circle for now. It was good to let her get her bearings before anything weird started happening - at least, it was better to have some sort of standard established so that they'd know when something weird started happening.

She was certainly charming, if one were in the habit of being charmed - not that anyone would have lasted long at L-9 if that were the case. Hells, Cait could be charming, when she wanted to, and more than one intern had started in on the journey of learning the ropes by getting tangled up in Hey can you hold this for me, pretty please?

Cait considered this a public service, because it was best to learn about these things when dealing with something relatively harmless like Eldritch deities rather than dealing with something truly terrifying, like Cait.

Or perhaps that was supposed to be the other way around, but newts didn't complain very much, nor did people if they were turned into newts.

Brian's phone rang, which meant that they were about to get busted by the Fun Security. There wasn't really a way around it, so he picked it up off the table. "H-"

"Hocus Locusts Tech Support! You hex 'em, we regex 'em!" Cait was not actually on the line but she had no doubt that the audio pickups in the room were being monitored. If nothing else, it was worth it for Brian's extremely distinctive glare in her direction, which resulted in Cait having a bit of a giggle fit and Brian interrupting his greeting for a moment to sigh.

"-Hello. This is STL/RH-IX-S-04. Identification, please?" Oh, Brian knew who was on the other end of the line, but if there was ever a time to do things properly, this was probably it - if only to show that they were still capable of it when they were so inclined.
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The other end of the line was cold for a moment. Silent with no interference. Such ensured that the voice that followed came through more crisply.

“Je Connaissance.” That was not a perfect translation; it was instead a correct one, the proper identifier. For him to identify himself, even within his own closed circuitry, could be a risk, and the Fourth Councilman’s reputation for paranoia was not entirely exaggerated. Or even partly so.

A second laugh came through the feed, under Caitlyn’s. The entity that had been hidden inside Strings and now appeared as a girl. Were it capable of liking, it may have liked the sound. Whether such things were capable of that was not his department. His department was security, and while it seemed to remain within the circle it was not certain whether that secured it.

That was not his main concern. L-9 could be secured remotely, because he had ensured that it could.

“Est-il mort?”

Is he dead?

It was an unnecessary question, given that he could see Dr. Seimar preparing a blood transfusion. That made it a warm opening from him, likely to lead to less answerable questions and less likely to lead to being hung up on. His voice betrayed neither hope nor care about the answer. It did, however, leave no room for a loophole answer. Had it been Agent Weber on the line, perhaps.

He did not expect better of Agent Connor, but it was icily clear he at least expected cooperation.
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It was entirely in French, which meant he was pissed. Brian couldn't even argue that they didn't really deserve that.

"Ah...il n'est pas plus mort qu'avant." He isn't any more dead than he was before. Agent Connor felt like this was the most accurate answer, given the slight debacle with Strings having been, at one point, dead for a little while. He'd gotten better. Or, at least, someone had fixed him.

"Oh, bah, I don't speak French." Cait spoke a plethora of languages, only two of which were considered human. She'd tried learning other languages, but it seemed like once the Eldritch had gotten in there, there wasn't a lot of room for anything else. "Did he say 'mort'? I know that one - did someone die? I can do a resurrection!"

"Elle ne peut pas," Agent Connor interjected, in somewhat of a long suffering tone: She cannot. Not that Cait hadn't tried it several times, but the attempts had thus far been messy and unsuccessful - only one of which was a problem at L-9, but L-6 might have thought differently. "Je crois que la situation est aussi sûre qu'elle peut l'être dans les circonstances." I think this situation is a secure as it gets, given the circumstances. There were certainly a lot of circumstances to be considered, here, but it wasn't a resurrection and so it hadn't really gone wrong.


"Hey, come here, you're young, you should be good at languages. Let's learn French." Cait had just mentioned that she did not actually know French, but this was not about to stop her. She patted a place beside her in a hey come sit sort of gesture, and appeared, for a moment, very thoughtful. It was just a matter of memorization, after all. "Okay, it goes like this:

Je chante pour ma rédemption
J'ai besoin de tois plus que jamais
M'entends-tu prier?
Je compte te crier ces mots
Même si ces derniers semblent insensés
Ce fardeau es bien trop lourd por moi à porter
D'une façon ou d'une autre
Je réussirai à nous sauver.
Mais seule face au monde puis-je vraiment lutter?"

"Caitlynn." Unlike the rest of them, Brian knew what the next line was. Cait might not actually know any French, but she knew at least as much - if he were honest, he had to admit more - about video games than he did, and phonetic memorization of whatever game song she was listening to was right up her alley. Sometimes, though, this meant that it was just sounds to her and she wasn't thinking about what they meant.

"Oh, come on, it's just about believing in your dreams, it's wholesome."

"I... will explain later. Please. Do not continue." Another sort of this is what I have to deal with every day because you assigned me here, I hope you appreciate it sigh. "Je suis désolé. Continuez s'il vous plaît."

Si je garde ma foi mes rêves deviendront réalité.
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“Je vois.”

The statement transcended language in the Foundation as a neutral security term to fill otherwise negative space. And it was true, in a literal sense. He did see. He saw Corby on the floor beside the child entity, and understood the look Connor was giving to her. He also understood. The entity was secure, the Fifth Councilman had not died (a fact to which the Fourth would remain frigidly neutral), and it seemed Agent Connor was doing what he had been assigned to do and keeping the others in check.

He did check that all three of the others were there. Just to be safe.

The false girl hummed along with Corby, following the words only a moment after they were sung. It also stopped where Corby was stopped, which was for the very best, because Hack also knew what the next line was.

Si je garde ma foi mes rêves deviendront réalité.

More than dreams, it was about faith, and reality. And that along with Strings’ proclivities gave him insight into the nature of that which sat upon the breakroom floor.

He phrased as a question, and said as a statement: “C’est Étrange, n’est-ce pas.”

It was strange, but more than that, it was Eldritch. It had most likely been given form by long containment within Strings. As such it had also likely been given personality related to his. The thought of that was a migraine, which he did not need at the moment.

A long exhale came over the line, which was more response than most besides his fellow council members could manage. Between the incidents at L-7 and L-0, and this… He wasn’t going to jinx the situation by being relieved about Butterfly at this time. The sound echoed Brian in tone and exhaustion. They had each been chosen according to their suitability and ability. Trouble was to be expected.

And there was likely more trouble to come of this, but now the responsibility of security was to adapt.

“Mettez-moi sur haut-parleur.” Put me on speaker. He would wait until he saw Connor do so, then changed to accentless English. “Medical personnel are en route. They will collect him and he will be transported to L-10. Do not detain them. Keep the Étrange within containment measures.”

While even L-9 personnel had objections to visiting the STR/LH-IX-S breakroom, they were also all as loyal to their madman of a Councilman as the surface team. He doubted any blame would be placed on anyone in the room. Even among security there would be more bets and rumors than derision.

They were suited to their place.

“As your team leader I expect Duet will file a full and accurate report of the situation.” He did not expect it, but it was more polite to say than demand, which was much more accurate. Demanding from Hocus Locusts would result in stubbornness. So might expectations, but it was as much as he could do not to tear into Weber now over the phone. That would be reserved for her Councilman. Instead, he made do with what he had to work with: “Your Councilman will need something to read during recovery. I am sure you will keep it interesting.”
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Agent Connor understood the sigh more than the statement. It was the sort of sigh that suggested that SV-4 had quite enough to deal with today, and did not need this added on to it. Very courteously, Brian didn't point out that SV-4 wouldn't need to be dealing with this at all if he hadn't poked his nose in where it wasn't needed or wanted, but here they were. He kept his mouth firmly shut on that one and hoped it didn't occur to anyone else to put into the conversation, lowering the phone and pressing the speaker button as instructed.

Nothing was commented to the first statement, though there was certainly an unspoken tension.

"The paperwork is already in progress," Gail responded to the next part. She'd been working up copies of the Certificate in triplicate, because it was good to have those. They wouldn't be Originals, of course, but they'd do in a pinch, if the little one ever forgot who she was. Her tone was coolly professional, perhaps even edging slightly into frosty, meeting the obtrusive councilman at his own. She was not saying anything like I know how to do my job, Councilman Hack - the one you approved me for, because that would not be getting them anywhere, but her team knew exactly what she meant, especially if Cait's quiet "Oof." was anything to go by.

Duet rested her elbows on the desk she was seated at, lacing her fingers together, not at all bothered by the fact that they were stained with her Councilman's blood at the moment. She didn't look at the phone, but at the security camera. "Formally, sir, I object to the removal of Councilman Strings from L-9. Personnel here are perfectly capable of caring for minor medical situations, and the removal of the location's head shows a degree of distrust in Foundation personnel and their capabilities that I find inadvisable."[/font] This was not to say Gail was about to do anything like walk out there and try to stop whoever he'd dispatched, but if she was officially logging a counterargument, it was going to be Looked Into, especially because Gail was quite knowledgeable about which channels to use for escalation.

She might have been a perfectly professional lawyer when she needed to be, but she was Strings' perfectly professional lawyer, and he'd have had a few words for Hack that were a whole lot less professional if he'd been awake to say them.
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Gail Weber met his eye – or one of them, the one he looked through now – and decided this was the best time to be contrarian. At least she did not begin “with all due respect,” because while formal that was lower personnel’s method of dealing with idiocy from higher ranks. She knew he was not an idiot, and he was aware that she was not, either.

“Formally, Agent,” Hack chose to say, through Agent Connor’s phone, although his eyes remained on hers through the camera, “there will be business to be discussed between your Councilman and the others. For security reasons, not his health and safety, he needs to be removed from his location.”

It was not that he distrusted the personnel. He had a feeling that Weber knew that. He would not have approved of Duet as the team leader if he found her really and truly untrustworthy. Disagree as he may with their methods, they were still among the best the Foundation had to offer. It was the Councilman he distrusted anywhere out of sight after incidents like this. He could give other excuses, of course; Butterfly would not be able to bring ACF-707 into L-9, which would result in an anxious Leviathan-class anomaly until his return. Leviathan would just be unsafe, especially with their own recent experiences. Jupiter… he may be fine, actually, but that was not the point. And Hack refused to set foot there on principal.

There was a reason why he had said L-10, and why the Foundation even had a location that was neutral ground between the Council.

“Morale is secondary. The Foundation comes first.”


There was a heavy pause. Agent Connor had properly understood the earlier exhale, although despite the temptation it was not repeated here. Aside from Butterfly and possibly Leviathan, there would be some time before the Council would be fully present. Strings was one of the members who could be on site in a moment, if desired, or if brought by one of his personnel.

Weber was a contracts lawyer. She knew what she wanted, even when Hack could not fully read her. He could read people, but some were and would remain a mystery, and it was not Sécurité’s place to probe mysteries. His specialty was in machines, which did not attempt to bind your soul to them when told to do something they didn’t like. She hadn’t tried to do that to him yet, but then again, they’d met in person exactly twice.

Perhaps a third time could be in order.

“There will be some time before Jupiter or I will arrive at L-10. You have six hours. If he has not recovered enough to travel on his own, he will require an escort.”

Even as he spoke, he ran his hands through his system, sending the footage he’d captured as well as a brief message to the other three Councilmen. He redirected the instructions for medical personnel, and sent COGNIZANT into the system that had been rewritten and repeatedly walled by Connor and Colby for investigation and future reference. For the moment it was in Sécurité’s best interest to let Weber have her little victory.

The call adjourned before the lawyer could object again.
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Six hours.

It wasn't much of a grace period, but it would be enough - especially since none of them were prone to sitting around dithering over which decisions to make. The call was cut, but Gail doubted the observation was gone just yet. Even so, she had other things to worry about, and at least she didn't have to argue with anyone about them right now.

"Joshua - get in touch with L-9's medical personnel, arrange to get the Councilman down to our medical facilities. I want you to stay with him and make sure they have the information they need to for proper treatment. Understood?"

"Perfectly." He also understood that she was taking full advantage of the time to stick him in a proper medical facility, which would be harder to argue about removing him from than the Break Room. The medics at L-9 were used to things being very strange, this wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary for them. Perhaps a little out of the ordinary - but the treatment itself was bound to be fairly routine, at least until it wasn't.

"Brian, I want you on information dispersal. I'd say this is need to know, but L-9's going to need to know at least something. Work us up a standard statement like you do for the Outside - enough of the truth, not all of it. You know what I'm going for. Get that out to our Class-C and Class-Ds here. Second statement for the security council, full rundown, minus the influential factor. Make it bland. Make it boring. This is L-9, this is Tuesday. Make it as uninteresting as you can without compromising the facts. I want to see that one before you send it out, I'll have a few files to append." A copy of the Certificate, or at least the parts of it that she'd be willing to put in a computer, which wouldn't have Names but would at least have Indications. Probably also her own formal complaint about L-6 overstepping, but she'd have to word that carefully as well, to hit the right Note of why are we being bothered with this nonsense when everything is fine?

"Boring paperwork it is. I'll keep an eye on computational Sécurité as well and appraise you if there are any changes."

"Perfect. Cait. I want you to get out there and hex this place down. We all know where this came from, we don't need any Eldritch complications while we're dealing with the Foundation. And Strings would be disappointed if he missed out on that part. Nothing comes in. Got it?"

"'We don't want any visitors, well-wishers, or distant relations,'" Cait quipped, not inaccurately. "Especially distant relations. I've got some negotiations credit I can use if I have to buy us some time."

"Good. Nic. That leaves you with Anima. You're responsible for her security. Understood?" Security meaning keep her safe, but also meaning keep her here, keep her occupied, keep her out of trouble. There was more than one reason why Gail had found Cait something time-consuming to do elsewhere - there was no way she was leaving Cait alone with the little Entity without a babysitter.

"Babysitting. You got it." Nic wasn't the only extremely large person to be weirdly good with kids. This kid might have been an anomalous ball of gloop that just looked like a kid, but he figured anyone with a juice box counted - up to and including Cait, as necessary. "And you?"

Gail's expression quickened to a brief frown, soon vanished behind the professional mask. "Emergency meeting with the Class-E personnel. Hopefully six hours is enough to give us a head start."
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