RP A Scheduled Diversion


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There were not many things the small Goddess of an alternate dimension did in her spare time that might've betrayed her origins. Or, at least, there were not many things that little Ira believed she did that might betray her origins. However, her guilty pleasure was to, whenever the fancy took her, 'scream into the void.' Ira knew for a fact that the guards posted to monitor her room -it was one guy, his name was James- turned off the volume to her cameras almost all the time. It was easier instead of listening to her nonsense.

Now, with her voice shot from screaming for the better part of an hour and her body covered in sweat from the exertion, Ira smiled and walked over to her beanbag throne. She would not nap, this was not the time for that, but she would rest. The moment her butt found the most comfortable part of the beanbag chair and her body fully settled in, a truth came upon her in the form of a memory. Cody had stood before her just a few days ago and said something about someone important coming to visit her... It was someone named after one of the celestial bodies that orbited in this system alongside Earth. Ira remembered the conversation because she had asked many questions about the solar system and Cody, the good friend he was, obliged to answer her with patience.

Then, once more, the truth came upon her. Someone was coming to visit her. Someone was coming TODAY. Groaning, Ira stood up and grasped a new pair of clothes from her drawer. Moving toward her privacy curtain in her little separate bathroom, she changed into the white cotton, long sleeve shirt and white cotton, long pants she wore all the time. Though this set of clothes was not drenched in sweat. There was a camera in here as well, but James didn't realize it was broken just yet. Frozen on a frame of an empty room.

Ira made sure she had at least a single place of complete privacy. Foundation protocols be damned.

Stepping out of the bathroom, she set herself back down on the beanbag chair and waited. She wasn't exactly sure when Cody said her visitor would be arriving, but Ira was a patient Goddess. She could wait here for many hours and feel no boredom. Though, if they did take hours to arrive, Ira would be annoyed. People should show up when she expected them to, it was only natural in order to honor the Goddess.
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Even with the adjusted ethics code, L-14 hadn’t changed much.

Five years was not all that long to be gone, and he’d made sure to visit. He remembered patrolling each hall, maintaining some of the doors with his own two hands, recovering anomalies and placing them into storage. His feet knew the path as surely as a bird knew migratory winds, or a world knew its orbit. As lovely as it was at times to be the asteroid, free of gravity, something always brought him back here.

And, strangely perhaps for an object collections agent, it was almost always an anohuman.

James snapped to attention when Jupiter strolled up to the door. It didn’t help that Jupiter was a big man, even without the dark coat that seemed to blanket him. His dark eyes studied the security agent, sincere, but perceptive. James had been here for years. He hadn’t been the only agent to ever observe ACF-1003, but he was close to the only one who’d volunteered to come back. It was unlikely that he loved the monotony, but the monotony could be easier than the more dangerous breaches within the facility.

In other words, James knew the tread of Jupiter’s steps as they came closer. He came to uncomfortable attention as the dark-skinned man, no longer the curly haired youth brought to the nearest Level-2 Site to his hometown that needed personnel, no longer the young man who set off eagerly to find the week’s lost treasure, no longer the jovial manager chosen to offset the security emphasis of his co-director. He had none of the armor of the agent, only the black coat covering everything else, and no weapons, just whatever was in its pockets. The curly hair was just barely gray at the temples. The intense eyes only hid whatever was behind them. The smile was one of an old friend, not a Councilman. But he was here as a Councilman today, and James did nothing to stop him as he scanned his badge, and crossed the threshold.

The sign had finally been replaced. That was one of the first things he noticed. The bulbs that had been dying, one by one, for decades, had at last been restored. That was a good sign. 1003 had not liked having her room repaired. As he had known her she had been a creature of habit. Then again, as he had known her, all those years ago, she had been silent and still. He’d known if anyone could change that, it was Dr. Cody Redd.

He was not here with the intention of replicating his success, however. If he had, there would be tribute in his hand. His hands were in the visible pockets of the big coat. The intense eyes focused on the Sleeper as the door closed and locked behind him. They were quite the vision, he was sure – the old agent and the young girl, black and white. He remained standing, but kept a distance from the child in her throne.

“Hello, one-thousand-three,” the Councilman said. His smile was unreadable, his gaze piercing but gentle in its own right. The gaze seemed to pick out the agitation on the Goddess’s face. “I hope I didn’t keep you waiting.”
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'Ah, so it this one.'

The thought sprang unbidden into Ira's mind and, before the question could even be asked of Herself, Ira knew the answer. This was one of the Foundation heads, the council, a man of import and authority. Specifically, this one held authority over the infernal physical form of the little Ira. He was one not to be idly threatened or trifled with, this she knew, as this dimension was not the seat of Ira's power. He was not, however, the one who dared poke her, so Ira set aside any hostile thoughts toward him.

Open hostility was a gift presented to those deserving, and this one had not proven himself yet.

He greeted her with her name, not her Name nor her NAME, but the designation given to her by the Foundation. This was good, he had not the honor of Ira and he seemed to understand that. After he finished speaking, Ira idly waved her hand in a dismissive gesture. Cody had tried to tell her before not to be mean to everyone that she met, but she still struggled with this. Ira opened her mouth and her first thoughts were 'pissant, begone from me. Disgrace my presence no more. Filthy cur. Unfit swine. Infernal [EXPLATIVE]ing human.'

But- Cody had asked her to be nice. Maybe if she was nice, she could go skating with him and Pepper...

So, when Ira opened her mouth to speak, the words that poured forth were not the thoughts inside her head, "No, I wait as I please. Sit, speak with you, I can. In shape of your steps, describe yourself. Rank and name. Body and whole. For to -me- your steps have brought -you- yes?"
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Jupiter saw 1003’s restraint. He didn’t comment on it, he only noted it. He was a man in authority; perhaps the Goddess beneath the Sleeper would see that, in the way he carried himself. There was no aggression. Quite the opposite – the self-assurance did not even seem to leave room for even defense. He was non-threatening because he did not consider her a threat. Not visibly, at least.

Still, upon invitation, he stepped forward and took one of the chairs from the art table. While it was comically small, he would be meeting the goddess as equal, not as subject, nor as superior. If he was acting as superior he would not have accepted her invitation.

“My name is Jupiter. I am SV-3, the third member of the Security Council. But I think you already knew that. It’s not the kind of information Dr. Redd would overlook.”

His smile was genuine as he sat in the far too small chair. “He asked me to bring my steps to you –” and the phrase was used with absolute seriousness, without trace of irony or threat “– to ask you questions about your waking world.”

Conversations of this kind required a certain degree of tact. Unlike some of the other Councilmen, Jupiter had no trouble being respectful toward anomalies that held themselves as his equal or superior. He withdrew his hands from his pockets, and in his left was an American Morgan dollar, the year of its mint faded. He rolled it between his fingers like a trick magician, perhaps not in the obvious flourishes but certainly in the nimble dexterity. He was distracted from it, however, and it seemed to just be something to occupy his hands while he addressed the Sleeper completely.

Now that he was closer, Ira might be able to see the faded scar that ran from the shadow of his nose, across his cheek, to behind his left ear; from a distance, it was mostly hidden under his graying beard. He had to sit somewhat sideways to look at her properly, and he crossed one leg over the other to accommodate for the odd position. And yet he seemed uncomfortable with neither his position nor the subject of their conversation, instead permeated with an undeterred calm.
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There was something off about the man standing before her. Alarm bells set off inside Ira’s head with the sounds of a thousand warning whispers. As her eyes followed the motion of the coin and her ears the shape of his voice, Ira felt a shaking in her bones. Sitting up a little straighter, she grasped one of her arms and closed her eyes. It would be nearly a full minute of silence before she opened them again to look at Jupiter.

Face deadpan, Ira rested her chin on her hands and her elbows on her knees as she sat. Still looking at the councilman, she responded quietly, ”Know you, yes. You have questions. Cody asked -you- to ask -me-? I see… Questions. I grant you permission- conditionally. Too long, I languish. I desire complex entertainment. An excursion outside. This is demanded. In payment for questions answered, of course. Grant me this boon and- mhm, truthfully, -I- shall speak to -you.-“

The whispers in her head became louder and louder as Ira spoke until, with a quick tap to her temple, they stopped. This one did not seem to be connected to the strung man. While they both were council members, Ira had the sinking suspicion they weren’t exactly in league with each other. Not allies per se, more like men whose goals temporarily aligned. Two beings walking the same path, not carrying each other. So to speak.

Therefore, although guarded, Ira felt as though she could answer at least a few questions.
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The Sleeper fell silent for a minute. After only a second of that, Jupiter had determined that this was not her usual, quiet response to questions. She seemed more like she was holding herself together about something. As such, he let her have her space. When her answer came, Jupiter smiled with his teeth closed, and he nodded his head slightly as though addressing a monarch.

“That’s part of the reason Dr. Redd has asked me to question you.” It was not a lie – in fact, it did not have to even be a whole truth. There were many reasons for today’s conversation. The development of the nature of the Goddess was the primary concern. “He wanted permission to take you out. I need to ensure that you are safe to do so: safe from the people outside, and safe to the people outside. This boon will be granted dependent on how I find your answers.”

Honesty was important, here. He knew how to watch for lies given to appease him, and he could hardly hold it against Ira if she chose that route. But he did not tell her what he wanted her answers to be. He would decide depending on what he learned beyond mere words. And the anomaly should not forget he was a man in power; what she wanted hinged on his interpretation of her. She did not know how much he knew, and he did not intend to tell her, not everything, at least. To a lesser extent, it would also be important to know what she knew of herself, especially in relation to the Foundation.

After all, for all the time he spent apart from it, the Foundation came first.
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”Then your questions, ask.” The response came quickly, too quickly. Ira betrayed her eagerness for her reward and, in doing so, she knew she lost a bit of leverage. The man before her wanted responses that fit an internal narrative, Ira could tell. For he did not ask for the truth, rather, simply for answers that corresponded with his own private thoughts.

How Jupiter came to his own conclusions and where his own mindset aligned, Ira did not know. But she did not believe in lying to people, even to get something you wanted. To speak anything less than the truth was a cardinal sin in the eyes of the Goddess. Her own people knew not even how to commit this sin, their emotions and truest feelings rode upon the air like the sweet scents of freshly baked breads. So, whether Jupiter liked what she said or not, Ira would tell him the truth.

”To speak firstly, safe around others. This I am. Complete control of consciousness. This I possess. I tell you now, secrets. I sleep only when desired. Never accidentally.”

Ira knew the man before her was no fool, so she did not specifically say what was implicitly implied by her words. If Ira truly had complete control of her consciousness as she said, that would include passing out at a moment’s notice. Which, of course, meant that no one who ever entered Ira’s room had ever been ‘safe’ from her ability. But, in all of Ira’s many, many decades with the Foundation, she had never purposefully fallen asleep when someone was within her radius.

So the real answer was, ’I am safe, if you trust me.’
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The big man’s face was hard to read. The moment of eagerness was not actually novel; much of the extant research had found Ira to behave exactly as an eleven year old child was expected to behave. There was some suspicion that this was an act. Jupiter did not share in that suspicion, especially after her second answer.

“You will understand if I do not tell your location to stop performing necessary precautions while you are in containment,” he said. It had the gentle tone of even if you do not, I will not do that. There was no such thing as ‘too many precautions’, after all, and even with all the trust in the world there were always unprecedented events to account for. “But I appreciate the honesty. It does bring back the question of why you determined the people who died before your containment deserving of that. Did they attempt to harm you? Or were they in the wrong place when you chose to return to your waking world?”

He knew she had been questioned extensively on this shortly after she came to the Foundation, but he sensed she had changed, somehow. He selected the options carefully, too, although they weren’t the only possible answers. If she had not intentionally harmed anyone in the Foundation as retribution for Dr. Isaac Holtzheim’s death, it was unlikely she would ever do so out of pure malice or spite. Negligence for human life, that wasn’t off the table. But those who would attempt to harm 1003 – that would be relevant to his final answer.
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"Truth, honesty, all else unacceptable. Eternal, I am. Why upkeep facades?" Ira responded without hesitation, then, waited for a bit before deciding to speak again. Jupiter's second question had thrown her off a little, her visceral reaction was to argue that such a thing had never happened. But, with a little patience and memory, it came back to her. There had been, others, who had crossed into her field while she slept. She had not intentionally harmed them, never intentionally, but before her initial retrieval...

Well, she simply hadn't cared.

Sighing, Ira attempted to explain that as best she could, "Deserving of- death? No, not deserving. Wrong place- yes, perhaps. Know some have died. Yes, I do. Feel- ahm, bad, I do. I experience guilt for them. Know some have died- though, by Foundation hands. Purposeful placement. Discovered within the waking world, their corpses. Foundation hands also unclean. Know this, I feel, you do." Ira paused again, thinking over Jupiter's words. Cody had asked her questions before on multiple occasions and she knew that if she missed an aspect of his questions, he'd circle back to it.

Wanting to avoid that, Ira examined her speech to see if she had actually answered everything Jupiter asked. Finding her answer lacking, she continued, "Harm me, yes. Attempts have been made. My world of waking, it is- mhm, what called... Oh- Not 'Defense mechanism.' Other ways, protect myself. I do. Use them here, I do not. Unnecessary. Foundation protects me. I take it not for granted."
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“I will not hold you accountable for the decisions of your researchers,” Jupiter reassured her, on the subject of the experiments that had taken place over the years. He knew the methods by which the Foundation had established the exact perimeter of her ‘death zone,’ after all, and knew of other related experiments, nearly all of which ended in the deaths of Class-A personnel. The detail that she had found corpses was new, though. Was that how she’d known about…

No, that wasn’t a question for him to ask. This was going smoothly, respectfully. To mention Holtzheim would divert from the subject at hand. This was going well, and he needed to maintain the relevant threads of the conversation.

“You are a Goddess,” he said. “While I know your abilities are limited here, what would you have to fear in your waking world? You have told the Foundation about your omnipotence, there, unless there are limits you cannot surpass.”

He chose to use the tone of one placating a child, albeit a little more serious. She did not know that the Foundation had somehow confirmed her claims. How could they have, unless a surviving team had crossed into her dimension? She knew about Strings, of course, but his reports were hardly sound; the man was mad, and a liar to boot.

The Council had chosen to believe him, though. His account fit too well with other theories, and was confirmed by Dr. Krasniqi and several eyewitnesses. And so here was Jupiter, because this had started as his project. He intended to see it through.
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Ira relaxed in her beanbag chair as Jupiter confirmed he would not hold her responsible for the deaths of the researchers. She didn't feel relief or any other sort of emotion, after all, those deaths had never been her fault. But she would be lying if she said she wasn't happy to move on from that subject. Being held to the standards of other's moralities was tiring at the best of times.

Then, a curious question. Though it was possibly more curious that it had not been asked of Ira sooner than now. Her face was deadpan, it nearly always was, as she continued to speak. Unlike perhaps others in Jupiter's life and line of work, Ira was making no attempts to read the man. She was being completely straightforward with him, she tried to be as such with everyone. The thought that he had ulterior motives had not even crossed her mind. 'But, maybe it should be.'

"Galaxies, universes, planes and dimensions... The strong get stronger, weak-weaker. Once apex is reached, well- others fear. Outer gods, unknown horrors, Eldritch. Assassination attempts, rare. I am, insurance- and bait. Please, do not fear. Once an eon, attempts are made. Kill this form, they may. My purpose to die. Not afraid of- erhm, 'physical' death. Think that's right description..."
Ira waited a minute, wondering if she should elaborate on the more pressing reason she did what she did here. Deciding that the Foundation would really have no idea what she was talking about anyway, she'd let them in on the truth, "There is another. In my waking world. Fight, we did. Win, I did. But- perhaps we fight again. If part is here, cannot lose over there. Make sense?"

They wouldn't know anything outside of what Ira had previously told Cody, anyway...
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