RP ACF-3473: [Appendix C] Conversations and Sightings


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There were times that walking between the fabric of reality took a fraction of a moment, an infinitesimal tick that flashes by faster than conscious thought can recognize that the world has changed around it. That tiny little moment might sometimes take place mid-step, a shifting around Catian that was at once noticeable and subtle. Those times were often a bit jarring, perhaps, but their brevity lent itself to an expedience in his actions from the outset of his arrival than the alternative inspired.

Those times when the shift was more than a moment were eternity; entire lifetimes wasted in black nothingness between worlds devoid of potential and chaos and consisting of nothing and everything just out of grasp. Weightless, nearly thoughtless, time became the abstract concept of splitting cells and greying hairs that would flow around Catian like a stone slammed into the center of a river, grey and weathered but standing ever vigilant against the passing of time around it. Separated and untouched, it was the self containment that facilitated and bound him to the never ending journey of cycling steps and endless masks. Catian’s world remained within him despite its destruction or resurrection, and within him timelessness became a whisper of truth mixed with lies told in soft tones.

The experience was far more disappointing once the next stone on his never ending path was touched upon lightly, experimentally at first to see what sort of pressure to expect with that next step. A moot point, really, as the next step must always be taken, whether beneath drowning darkness or high in the suffocating light the timeless must move forward, must drive their cycles by sheer force rather than mark them helplessly. Catian was not helpless, not some boring whelp from a tiny village crying at night because a goblin hoarde gathered somewhere at the edge of the world he knew.

The ancient memories disappeared as his toe landed on the next stone, oddly set upon some sort of table in a drab, clinical room of order and organization. Neutral walls and floors, furniture clearly designed to be just uncomfortable enough to discourage long moments of rest. He stepped down from the desk, right ear twitching slightly as the sound of a heartbeat, aflutter with expected panic, echoed through the room. The lupine ears twitched again as the steps of some other souls reverberated through the walls. For a moment Catian absorbed the information around him, the Orders of the reality in front of him read like open scrolls at lightning speed as he smoothly turned with the ends of his long, black leather coat cut through the air. His hand swept low as he turned the spin to a bow, courtly and well practiced with right hand over hear and head low.

”I am here to serve, Summoner.” His words were flawlessly translated, though a glimpse at the rules beneath him quirked at something being a bit wrong with the setup. His eyes squinted at the floor, the slowly shifting hue of his iris cycling frantically through a kaleidoscope of colors, some of which were beyond what the human eye could normally perceive. Still squinting his eyes rose, though his posture remained rock steady, to study the person behind the desk curiously. ”Perhaps Summoner is the wrong title here? Pray tell me your name and rank.” His words were sharper than intended, an unfortunate side effect of existing for some time in between.
DATE: 6.21.1999
ASSET: Dr. Maya Delano, R-Class-D [specialization: object terminations]
PURPOSE: Immediately following termination attempt L-2-342, ACF-3473 "River Stone" [NOTE: Formerly ACF-034. Following failed termination attempt L-2-276, original numeric was anomalously replaced. Replacement number accepted. /end note.]

Dr. Maya Delano was losing her touch.

The problem had to be her, because she could get rid of anything. The other researchers called her "Black Thumb" because of just how bad she was with anomalies. Maybe it was anomaly itself, maybe it was just some weird coincidence, but whenever Maya interacted with an anomaly it broke, or injured someone, or withered. But some people had seen the potential in that. Terminations protocols were going out of fashion now, but they'd once been seen as a useful research measure. Household-class anomalies that didn't really serve a purpose but could be used as a metric for how similar Risky-class anomalies might respond to certain measures could be expended in the name of research.

And Maya, for her part, had loved it. There was a certain, primal joy in destruction, balanced by the clinical rationale of research. It'd cost her over time. She'd lost an eye to the work, broken bones, taken stabs and bites and splinters from the things that didn't want to die. And the things that couldn't die. She'd been vital in determining containment procedures and destruction protocols for things that couldn't quite be terminated, but could be stripped down until they were no longer a threat. She'd been the one to determine ACF-404's weakness to magnetism, after all. She'd been the one to determine that it needed to be reduced to an anemic state for the field to work, but with a little personal sacrifice from ACF-408, bless him, work it did. That had been a shining moment, just last year.

That had been the beginning of the spiral to this point. First the hound, then the desk, then that garden, and now...

And now. The stupid rock.

Maybe she was ready to retire. Was fifteen years with the Foundation enough? Twenty? A lifetime? How many limbs, bones, cuts, bruises, eyes, teeth, were enough? She couldn't even put a scratch on it. Nobody could, of course, that was the anomaly. Not a scratch on it. They'd tried everything, done any thing they could think of, and then they gave it to Maya because Maya needed a win right now. And it was just a rock.

She wanted to throw it across the room, out the window, but she wasn't even surprised she couldn't move her arm to do so. It didn't want to go, so the rock wouldn't go. Why it would want to stay with Dr. Delano was a mystery, given her history with anomalies and her intentions with it. With an aggravated growl, she sat down at the desk, glaring at it perched there between her hands. It was almost like it was mocking her, adrift as she felt. Mocking how she'd lost the path. Or maybe she was just tired of it all, which was possible.

She growled in frustration at the stupid, flawless rock in her hands. "If you're not going to shatter, then the least you could do is help me."

And then her lab filled with light. Maya's remaining eye was completely blinded, and she dropped the stone like it had burned her. Her first coherent thoughts were accusatory, of course, but suddenly there was the sense of... relief. She'd made it do something it hadn't in the last century and a half. As the dazzling light faded, she barked out a very harsh little laugh over the sudden nerves. She'd done something.

Except she'd done more than conjure light, as a shadow appeared in the light as it retreated back to wherever light goes when it dies. Her dizzy relief spiraled to a stop that took the form of concern. The remaining dark eye did not leave him as she reached under her desk for the button that called security.

He spun around. Her hand paused over the button. She could see his white hair, his shifting eyes, and the lupine ears poised above them. Noted for description, because she was a researcher first. He was dressed in black, a leather coat reaching down to his knees. And when he spoke his accent was... dated. Or maybe it was the vocabulary. Or maybe it was the situation, as years of training caught up with her. She'd still been frozen when his words became short with her, and it was her turn to squint with her remaining, colorless eye.

"Doctor Maya Delano." That was the truth, but there was no way to know where this stranger had come from, or what he was here for. No rank yet, no Foundation yet. Her foot slid under one of the desk drawers where she kept her weapon, although she wasn't sure she could reach it, and with ears like that it was more than likely he'd heard it. "I am a terminations researcher. Now, it's your turn. Identify yourself before I call security."
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Human, though by the orders of this reality there seemed little else within any sense of the world’s immediate vicinity. Universes were large and often housed many sentient species to apply order at the specified intervals, sometimes densely packed on individual worlds with widespread definition or spread out in small numbers as a blanket of thinner concentrations of order. As the Doctor answered his question Catian’s hand casually slipped from his chest and he poked at the floor, the material bending like rubber beneath his touch.

”Perceptual based, fractal order parsing,” his finger retracted and the floor regained its sturdiness. The soft scuff of a booted toe against wood was accompanied by a twitch of his pointed ear, little more as he straightened and met the Doctor’s eyes steadily, his own irises possessed of ruby cumuli and azure lightning. ”Doctor Maya, Delano.” He rolled her introduction over his tongue, studying the order of her words on his ear and the geometry of the name on his lips. Behind the black mask a soft grin lay hidden. ”Not a Doctor of medicines, no?” Though the words were spoken as his eyes remained locked with his summoner’s he seemed to be more mumbling to himself than making conversation.

”Terminations researcher. The Order here doesn’t seem wont for random homicide,” The man held up a finger as his eyes sparked with amber light that drove the crimson storm away. ”Just… just a moment,” Her warning was not unheeded, but secondary to his realization as he seemed to freeze in place for several seconds before he began fading away like mist.

”Okay, I understand a little better now.” his voice came from the other side of the room, a corner that had been empty just before he spoke but was suddenly filled with his black clad figure as he stepped back into the center of the room, a red file in his hand with the familiar logo of the ACF emblazoned on the front and a dark stamp of stylized tentacles in the uppermost corner. His words felt less antiquated as he finally deigned to answer the question posed, eyes scanning the documents in the file.

”My name is Catian Valor. Put simply I am a Traveler, and this…” He flipped through the pages before continuing. ”Yes, this Anomaly you are calling ‘The River Stone?’” He paused to peer over glasses that had certainly not been on his face a moment before, the shifting hues casting a hint of judgement toward the researcher before continuing. ”This River Stone seems to have anchored me to your reality. Do you think I could take a look?” Catian snapped the file closed and fixed his attention on Dr. Maya Delano fully, the spectacles returned to the nonexistence that they had originated in. ”It would probably be better if you didn’t call security. They wouldn’t prove to be much help and would only get in the way of our conversation.”
The new entity (temporary label U-3473) decided to poke at the floor and began to speak words that weren't her department's place to know. The floor rippled. Like an old but forgotten friend, curiosity appeared abruptly and uninvited in Maya's mind. Shifting eyes and canine features were suddenly the least interesting part of this stranger. Spacial control, maybe, or a strange connection to the organic matter that comprised the floor of Dr. Delano's office. This really wasn't Maya's department specifically. She had trouble with the ones that could change the way the world around them worked--

He disappeared, like an afterimage on a screen when it turned off. Maya forgot about the security button and rose abruptly to her feet. No, no, this wasn't the time for her rotten luck to come back now! She needed to know more! Had it been because she'd ignored his questions? He'd seemed to answer them well enough for himself, without making much sense. But nothing made much sense. You had to have a very malleable mind to work in the Foundation, adapt to survive things that would break a normal consciousness. A lot of her coworkers had snapped under stress and unbelievable conditions. Not her - not yet. Or was this all stress? She couldn't afford this just being a mental break after her failure to break a rock.

Head spinning, she was about to cry out after him, when his voice came from a different corner of the room. Her head turned, and in his hands was a file.

Access Containment File 3473 "The River Stone," to be exact. She probably should have had a copy in her office, but she very distinctly had not taken one. All she'd needed was the terminations record, and that was a quick memorization process for highlights on what had been tried. The point was - he hadn't just bent space to get the item out of her desk, because it'd never been there in the first place.

Her black right eye was wide as she did the math. U-3473 was displaying several different anomalous capabilities - immediate conjuration of objects and their dismissal, including objects that were protected from physical or magical seizure by unauthorized forces. That left very limited options. Either there were branches of the occult that hadn't been completely explored - entirely possible, in many ways it was harder to keep up with than hard science - one of the Foundation's rivals had finally found a way to enter, someone had invented teleportation, or...

The anomaly's words confirmed the last suspicion, left hanging. Reality warper. The stone was an anchor for an entity that could move through this world like water. And, far more interestingly, this wasn't the first incident she'd heard of this year. With the exception of the March incident, the Foundation had only ever encountered anomalies of that power scale that were either malevolent or pragmatically neutral to the existence of lower, three-dimensional life forms.

The initial panic that brought faded, much the way he'd faded a moment ago. If he was going to kill her, he was clearly going to wait. There was judgment in his eyes as he peered over his nonexistent glasses. She knew she didn't cut a huge figure, but her face bore the scars of her life's work. A leather patch was strapped over her left eye. Her hair had gone almost completely white at the roots, but hadn't spread to the black bun she kept tied tight as per laboratory protocol. She was also missing two fingers on her right hand, resting as it was on the desk. It moved to open a drawer, more obvious this time, and she retrieved a handheld tape recorder.

When she spoke, she only had one question while she put the rest in order, and ignored his request for the anchoring stone entirely. "You don't mind if I record our conversation for review and future research purposes?"

It was barely a suggestion, made with utmost calm. Fear of death had passed, and while there were many worse fates they were smothered under the other things in the researcher's mind. But she was a senior researcher. A senior terminations researcher. Which meant that she would take every scrap of evidence she could for later review.
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The smile behind the thin fabric mask grew wider, the woman’s behavior sitting at odds with her grizzled look. In another world she might have been a warrior, clad in armor and waving sword through the air to rally untold numbers of troops into a charge. Her reserve was astounding, the ability to shift out of a panic, out of wonder and curiosity and the mire of conscious thought to achieve a goal or focus on a single thing. He had gained that focus, heavy and full of purpose that might have aroused suspicion or even a frightened reaction from another being from this world.

Catian felt no need to press her for information, to pressure her for the stone or to take under his own power. There was a progression to these things, and though these types of realities were quite alien to the boy he had been; after so many untold eons of travel he had been to similar worlds a time or two. They tended toward a hoarding of resources, a kind of greed not altogether reprehensible but still smacking of something dirty and uneasy. Information was a valuable commodity to waste, and Catian would surely represent a treasure trove of such information if they could pry it from him. In all honesty he was pleasantly surprised that the Doctor wasn’t attempting to question him by force.

”By all means,” his thoughts were instant, her question barely uttered before he already changed tactics, his posture opening as he sat in the chair that was clearly designed to be just uncomfortable enough to keep the person who would sit there on edge. It might as well have been a chaise lounge for the comfort he took in it, a single leg draped over the arm as he gestured toward the woman’s desk. ”I can imagine this is quite confusing. For the most part I tend to access worlds with fewer eyes upon me.” His hand ran through his stark white hair, and where his hand passed the color seemed to dim, still quite pale but of a much more mundane quality than before. The lupine ears were gone, almost seeming to melt into the same sort of aged white locks when his hand passed over them.

Though his eyes continued to shift the man seemed much more mortal, more commonplace than he had before the simple gesture was made. There was a brief moment of consideration, his clothes glanced at casually with an accompanying study of the clothes Dr. Delano wore. The mask faded, revealing the lower half of his face without preamble. Smooth and angular, perhaps handsome or fair, unblemished but for a single black mark like a tattoo that curled from the collar of his t-shirt and spiraled up his neck to just cross the line of his jaw. His clothes has changed as well, casually dressed with slightly worn blue jeans and a cotton shirt that read -Valor- in faded writing.

”I am an open book. Ask whatever you would like.” His moving lips cast glimpses of canines that were perhaps a bit longer and sharper than a human’s teeth were meant to be. That charade wouldn’t serve him here at any rate, his appearance surely some kind of spectacle in this world. As he stretched and placed his hands behind his head with interlocked fingers black lines similar to the ones that spiraled to his jaw could be seen wrapped around his forearm and wrists as well. There seemed to be some sort of pattern to them, though they also seemed to move and change the closer one would look.
Maya mentally added shape-shifting to the list of things the entity was capable of. Small-scale for now, but a feature to be watched for security's sake. Then again, security might matter less in those matters when the entity could get what he wanted, when he wanted, just by parting the world around him like water.

His teeth were too sharp; his eyes still shifted between colors, and Maya wondered if there was a pattern to that. She was wondering a great many things at once, and needed to slow down a little. The recording may not even last, but she knew the sound of it would keep her grounded for the time being.

"Right." She sat down again slowly, with a deep breath. Her hand pressed the play button on the recorder. "Research report. Dr. Maya Delano recording, June twenty-first, nineteen ninety-nine. Interview subject Catian Valor, temporary numeric designation U-thirty-four-seventy-three, connection to the River Stone. Interview begins."

A pause to consider her questions. She decided to start broad, and see what that brought her.

"Before recording began, you mentioned you are a traveler anchored to this reality by ACF-3473. Could you expand on that? Your travels and the nature of this... reality-anchor?"
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The click of a button heralded the beginning of his interview, a brief introductory statement made by the Doctor preceding a momentary pause before she began her questioning, professional and collected, without a trace of confusion or surprise. It spoke to her experience with the unexplainable, and sparked something curiously amused behind the kaleidoscopic eyes that watched her. For a moment the silence continued, Catian looking to the Doctor’s face as he considered how best to appease her.

”Well, Dr. Delano- May I call you Maya?” He began thoughtfully, giving her a bare moment to respond to his request before continuing regardless of the answer. ”My travels have been taking place for some time, and are quite numerous, Maya. To be frank I doubt you have the life span to hear the breadth and depth of my adventures to date.” He gave her a small nod, a gesture to indicate he did not mean any disrespect with his comment. ”My own reality is… inaccesible. I walk through worlds to fulfill my purpose, which is to balance the scales of Chaos and Order, or to tip them fully so that they might be reset.”

Catian’s gaze fell to the stone sitting casually on the desk. ”As for the stone? You likely know more about it than I do. There are often pieces of my reality hidden in other universes, it might be this stone is one of those pieces and so has brought me here. Once I enter a reality, though, I cannot leave until my purpose is met. Judging from your records I suspect the stone might be bound by the same Order, though I would have to study it myself before I could give you a definitive answer.”

As he spoke his eyes remained on the stone, the Order around it studied surreptitiously under the cover of curiosity. He didn’t gain much more information than he already knew, but the structure of the Order made him fairly certain it wasn’t from his world. His eyes slid back to Maya’s with an easy smile. He would save that information for now. ”And what of you, Maya? Could you tell me what events led to our meeting?”
She'd only nodded when he suggested just calling her Maya because it was asked in the hurried "this is just polite, I'm going to do it anyway" manner some of her coworkers sometimes used. She listened, her mind forming notes as he spoke of stories longer than entire lifetimes. If he was to be believed, he also couldn't go back, and that he had some manner of purpose to fulfill here. She would need to cross-reference this idea with some of the other reality warpers in Foundation possession, including the recently emerged one from March.

The concept of balancing chaos and order raked against her in a way she couldn't quite put her finger on. The Foundation represented Order, in a sense. It contained and studied entities that were often some form of embodied chaos, or craved chaos to the point of destruction. Technically freedom was chaos. That was a warning flag, if he wasn't just an interplanar order-er but one who kept the scales tight. Then again, outside of the Foundation, the world was a chaotic mess, so maybe she was overthinking it. Either way, it was on the record for later review.

The stone was another story. He expressed that he knew little about it other than it might be from that inaccessible place where he'd originated. It crossed Dr. Delano's mind that the entity was capable of lying, but for the moment, this was an initial interview. She could sift through his words later, or leave it to one of L-2's psychologists. He watched the rock with the same curiosity she'd seen in researchers' eyes, though. There was a question there. One she could've sworn was, what are you?

She didn't mention it, however. That would have been in bad form, and she had other questions. And apparently at least one to answer.

"As I mentioned before, Mr. Valor, I am a terminations researcher. Much of my personal research revolves around the termination of objects displaying certain patterns of properties, which can be and has been used as a baseline for more dangerous objects and entities displaying the same properties. As you likely saw in the file, ACF-3473 has proven to be immune to any form of physical harm by all known methods, chemical, material, and anomalous." She looked to the recorder, letting the sound of the tape spinning keep her grounded. "I have a record of being able to harm or contain anomalies that have shown this sort of resilience. However, this is the last in a streak of failures in my recent termination attempts, and I was questioning whether I should retire." She seemed to consider her next phrasing, then decided that everything was necessary to be on the record. "I've been... adrift, for a while. I felt like I'd lost my touch. That I've become lost on this path I've let myself be set on. In frustration I told the stone to either break, or help me. At this point, Mr. Valor appeared in my office."

It wasn't as dry and scientific as these records could get, but there was little about this that was traditionally scientific. Now it was on the record, and she returned to the position of interviewer.

"Mr. Valor, you mentioned that when you enter a reality you do so with a purpose. Can you give some examples of what that has been in the past?"
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As Maya relayed the story of the stone in summary Catain wiggled his fingers. It seemed an innocuous motion, maybe a stretch or just a subconscious motion were it the movement of some normal person. However that first wiggle led to a slight furrow to his brow, and another more purposeful motion as he flicked his wrist toward the stone. Maya finished her introduction for the recording and asked Catian a question in turn, momentarily lost as he flicked toward the stone once more. His attention returned to her instantly, however, and all trace of the furrowed brow had vanished.

”The tale of my travels would be quite a long, to be honest, and I doubt we would finish before you withered away into dust. Some worlds require a great power to right massive imbalances, other might need a subtle push with something beyond its orders. I have saved worlds, destroyed realities, murdered and healed countless numbers. I have provided weapons to end wars and to start them, and even in one world I was called to reform the policies of a lax nation.” Catian leaned forward, his legs swept under him with catlike graze.

”The Order I follow is as complex as the infinity of Chaos, and it will take some time before I can ascertain what reason called me to your reality. In the meantime I would offer you, Dr. Maya, my services. All I ask in return is a chance to study the Stone myself.”
He was watching the stone. Dr. Delano was watching him watch the stone, somewhat more obviously with her one steady eye. He spoke like something with a great deal of power, the ability to shatter realities resonating with her above the rest for obvious reasons. It made his offer tingle in the back of her mind. It echoed and lingered. She was a researcher, after all - a researcher struggling with her research, which made her next to nothing. She knew the pitying glances the others gave her. It rankled her. She was one of the best, after all, and she was proud of that.

And that was the catch. Dr. Delano was a proud woman. To accept the aid of this man and his infinite Orders - to take a shortcut, however promising - that wasn't how she did things. She just had to phrase it more nicely than that.

"While I have no doubt in your potential destructive capacity, Mr. Valor, I don't believe I can give you much work in my department. Many of our recording researchers can be hesitant about... cross-contamination, at least until both subjects have been properly documented. I'm sure you understand." Maya steepled the fingers she had left on the desk, as though considering. "However, if you would be willing to offer your services to the Foundation as a whole - perhaps stay here, for observation and study, or work together with us as an independent asset - there are others here who could help you more, and would be more open to having the extra hand in research."

And good riddance, in her mind. Not because she was ungrateful for Mr. Valor's offer, but because she still hadn't quite forgiven the object for not simply dying when she asked it to.

"If that seems too vague for you, I could even offer some suggestions, or pass the stone along to the projects I have in mind. Whether you can study it yourself would also be in the hands of the future researcher made responsible for it. It seems our research on it is incomplete, so it'll be passing out of my hands sometime very soon."
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In all honesty he was less inclined toward the destruction of the so called Anomalies than he had let on, and he silently acknowledged her denial of his offer in relief. The River Stone’s orders were becoming clear enough, and while he was intent to study the Anomaly he had no reason to wish it destroyed. Maya’s expectation that those experiments would come to an end soon lifted pressure from his curiosity. The passing of time in this world would mean little to Catian.

Her counteroffer, however, left concerns. As before his body seemed to freeze for a moment before he slowly faded from the chair. Unbeknownst to Dr. Maya Delano the man had in that same moment appeared in a classified filing room, several early documents copied from their original tattered remains from the Foundation’s founding removed in less than a minute before a similar effect of fading returned him to her office. This time he reappeared in the same space, a stack of folders in his lap.

”Until I know more about this Foundation of yours I am afraid I cannot ensure my support so flippantly,” he said, picking up the conversation as if nothing had changed. ”Call for help if you need me, but as it stands your position on the scales is suspect. Besides, I do not respond well to freedom, and your world has much to explore.” He smiled again, a soft thing that was fleeting but full of genuine warmth. ”You asked for help, and I would offer it in the form of advice. I, too, have been a tool for destruction and research, and I know the weight that can place upon one’s shoulders. Perhaps you should consider pursuing more creative efforts to ease the strain you’ve been carrying so long.”

The files he had taken were placed upon the desk, a single finger holding them in place as Catian winked to Maya again, his eyes solid gold in that moment before shifting to a lilac hue on the left and a bright green on the right. ”Lets keep this part between us.” The files beneath his finger blurred, much like he had moments ago. They did not fade away, but instead began to split into two identical stacks, though Catian’s hand never moved. A soft whirring sound announced the tape recorder shifting backwards just enough to begin recording over the last thing he had said.

”The record should note that I am returning the files taken from the archive to Dr. Maya Delano, who was unaware of my actions at the time of their theft.” The second stack of files blurred, disappearing with a small spark of light. ”It has been a pleasure, Maya, but I believe our positions have been made clear. I hope we meet again, and that next time you will feel more complete. Until that day,” Catian gave a small salute, a single finger brought to his temple and brought down toward Maya with another smile. Then he was gone, a crack of sound like muted thunder and a light both gentle and blinding announcing his departure that was accented with a soft puff of rose scented red smoke.
There were folders, and based on the words stamped on the front? They were above Maya's nonexistent paygrade. All of them were. Given she was dealing with a high class of ontokinetic, there wouldn't be a point to asking where he got them. That and, well, he was already gone. Not like some of the other things she'd heard about, either. No subtle doubt as to whether he'd been there at all, no. There was no doubt about the reality of this situation, and he'd certainly gone out with a bang.

Dr. Delano nodded to herself, as if all of this was expected. The erased transcript of tapes, the Leviathan's Eyes Only files, the advice to balance out her work with something more fulfilling. He hadn't said fulfilling, but Maya had understood what he did say well enough to make her assumptions. She looked back down at the rock on the desk, her bitterness toward it somewhat faded.

"Keep digging like that, Mr. Valor, and they're going to keep a strict eye on your activities here."

His farewell was tucked away under a "relevant, but not immediately" tab in the file folders of her mind. As for the remaining file folders on her desk, she didn't succumb to a researcher's curiosity and open them. She was experienced enough to recognize a potential memetic hazard when it was laid out in front of her. She had no reason to believe anything the entity had told her. And, truth be told, it was now almost all the way out of her hands. A problem for someone else, sometime else. Even if she would review the interview several times in the following weeks.

Maya would have to file so much paperwork about this. But something told her, in the end, it would be worth it. For right now she had some phone calls to make, some files to return, and a research project to propose to an intern. She reached out, and finally pressed the security buzzer under her desk. Then, with an audible click, the recorder turned off. The interview was over.

[End Sighting U-3473-1.]
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The recording began with the clatter of physical contact against the device's sensitive microphone and a close-up of a young man's face, brow furrowed with concentration. Rectangular reading glasses rested on a larger nose, with warm brown eyes behind them that looked past the camera itself at something else on the device. A brown tweed cabby cap rested low on his brown hair, with the forelimbs of some insect immediately visible. As he stepped back, a grizzled stubble could be seen on the lower half of his face, and the insect on his cap could be seen as a large, brown butterfly specimen, almost a foot in wingspan. Another butterfly, much smaller and harder to make out in the grainy camera footage, rested on the shoulder of his lab coat, which he adjusted as he walked a few paces away just to turn back again.

"Okay. Right. Recording begins. Date September Sixteenth, Nineteen Ninety-nine, time 8AM. Location CU-Seven-Oh-Seven, L-Fourteen. Location temporary designation ACF-707-B. Working to get rid of that. Asset Mr. Rex Papillion, Class-C Approval pending. Still pending. Erm - anyway. Temporary anomalous designation 707-A. Working to get rid of that. Anyway. Additional asset ACF-707 'The Butterfly Effect.' Present in the whole kaleidoscope, but visible specimens are Troides alexandrae - say hi to the camera - and Percnodaimon merula. Reason to believe relevance to the other visible specimen given past experience. Relevance possible in relation to research subject ACF-Thirty-Four-Seventy-Three, recently redesignated 'The Stone and the Traveler.' Other equipment includes 1998 JVC Compact VHS camcorder on tripod mount for recording - magnetic tape can be tampered with by the entity called Mr. Catian Valor, but that's part of this experiment."

Mr. Papillion was in a large room that almost looked like a greenhouse. Various flowering plants hung from hooks or sat in pots around him. From a greater distance it was clear that the intern wasn't tall, although he wasn't notably short, either; around the edges, it looked like he hadn't quite lost his baby fat, or else had put on a little extra weight in whatever tasks the Foundation had set him about. It gave him a softened look not at all contrasted by the cargo pants and faded green T-shirt visible under the open lab coat. His hands were in the coat's pockets, and he seemed to fish around for a moment before withdrawing a smooth, flat stone, about the size of his palm. He held it up for the camera to see.

"The aforementioned Stone," he explained, to someone who might someday be watching. "My focus today will, however, be on the Traveler. There are several reasons for today's experiment. First and officially we're going to see if 707's reality-altering capabilities can limit Mr. Valor's - that's the Traveler - limit his reality-walking within the Foundation. She's - er, they're - going to try to keep him in this room with me for the length of our interview, and counter any other anomalous effects he has on reality here. Second purpose is interviewing Mr. Valor about his own ontokinetic abilities for the purpose of my continued research with 707. I also want to see if he can identify the presence of aspects of 707 that aren't visible to the naked eye. And obviously there's the question of the timing of his arrival in June, versus the emergence of 707 in March, but I personally have doubts about the relationship. Mr. Valor talks about an Order, whereas 707 is constructed of an organized but chaotic-"

The researcher paused, then cleared his throat.

"Not really relevant at the moment, that can be cross-referenced later with my other work so far with 707. Right now this is about U-3473 and how he interacts with - them. So... experiment begins."

Rex took a deep breath. He was still getting used to this kind of research, and given its nature - and the kinds of people who'd be reviewing it - he really wanted to impress. He wasn't very good at the impressing part, though. The formal language and even more formal documentation was hard for him, especially about subjects that he was passionate about. But it was because he was passionate that he was trying. He looked down at the stone in his hand, and then spoke the words with maybe a little more sincerity than was strictly necessary:

"Help me."
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It had come sooner than he expected, though Dr. Delano had noted her own expectation to be such. A few months since he had stepped into this world, and after leaving Maya and the Stone behind he had set to explore the new territory. Many of his suspicions were confirmed as he traveled over the globe, his understanding of the Foundation and its purpose deeper for sake of the files he had copied. Even those had held redactions, though the importance of this world’s measures and nomenclature were arguable. By September Catian had taken to speaking with the people in the world, determining the orders of their perceptions and the variety while also having a spot of fun.

It was in the middle of a leisurely activity that Catian simply blinked into the room of plants, the drink in his hand sloshing, little umbrella nearly careening away before he stabilized the beverage. Behind dark aviator sunglasses his shifting eyes identified air plants and ferns, blooming flowers and a cotton shirt with- he noticed the man secondary, almost nondescript in his appearance save for the massive butterfly affixed to his hat. In his hand the Stone glittered with an oily sheen; the Summoner, no doubt. Dressed in cargo pants and a lab coat, he presented an entirely different air than Dr. Delano had.

Catian’s attire shifted, garishly colored Hawaiian shirt seeming to catch a nonexistent breeze before it was simply a black t-shirt, -Valor- printed in white. His shorts flowed to his once bare feet, black cargo pants covering black hiking boots. The cocktail and the glasses remained, though his hair color had shifted from an initial black to a radiant white before its seeming glow faded and it settled to a more greyed hue. With a long, slow sip Catian removed the sunglasses, setting an ice blue gaze on the new researcher that shifted to a muddied green.

”Catian Valor, at your service. Am I to assume we are moving on to containment protocols, Mr…?” Given the Stone in his hand Catian figured the man knew who he had called, but an introduction could hardly be asked without making one first. He took a more reasonably paced sip of the drink in his hand before dropping both it and his sunglasses unceremoniously in front of him, both disappearing the instant before they would have hit the floor. ”As far as accommodations go I can appreciate the natural theme here. Do you tend to all of these plants?”
Catian Valor's appearance wasn't smooth enough for Rex to doubt whether he'd always been there. The hawaiian shirt and cocktail were unexpected. He looked around the greenhouse first; the room glowed as if full of sunlight, with just the right amount of humid heat, but closer inspection would find the walls Foundation concrete covered in soft moss. There was no sign of the light's source.

Rex knew when the man saw him, though, because the Queen Alexandra's birdwing had always been in a somewhat less relaxed position on his shoulder beside the other butterfly. Mr. Valor hadn't always been in a t-shirt and cargo pants that Rex couldn't help but notice were a lot like his own, and there was no doubt his hair changed colors. A few theories sprouted - maybe it took more conscious effort for Mr. Valor to make alterations to reality, while for 707 it was instinctive as a wingbeat. He did his best not to squirm under the ice blue gaze, even though new questions cropped up about patterns and purpose as the eyes turned green. Then came the question, and Rex cleared his throat as he took a step forward, hand extended.

"Er- Papillion." The name was badly bastardized from the orignal French. "Rex Papillion, R-Class-B. Thank you for coming, Mr. Valor. We're actually just-"

Something in the room shifted. Not a breeze, not a movement. Anticipation seemed to cling to everything like thousands of tiny feet hooked in, getting a sense of the world. Everything, that is, except Rex, who seemed either unaware or accustomed to the shift and kept talking. At the same moment the items were meant to vanish, the order of the room rippled like the flutter of wings. Glass and glasses would be caught in the aftershock, a direct pull against the desire for them to go where-else. Not to keep them falling and breaking - the wings never broke, after all - but in gentle placement, set on the floor like they'd never been dropped at all. And either on the lip of the preserved glass, or in the place on the ground where it should-have-always-been, was a glasswing butterfly.

"- experimenting with the abilities of ACF-707 for today. So containment protocol is, uh, whatever you'd normally do. This is actually her- its containment unit. I did order the plants, though - felt right for contained butterflies to have a garden. She's - they're - mostly maintaining it for now. I've requested help but the papers haven't gone through yet." Like other things. Pending was a word Rex was growing to despise, but it was how the systems worked. If everything was as easy as a wingbeat, what filing and waiting would be left for interns?
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The new Agent, Rex Papillion as he called himself, spoke of the Anomaly with him with something like affection, his shift from personal to impersonal pronouns seemingly instinctive through their connection. Catian’s eyes studied the butterflies that flitted from plant to plant, their connections and their apparent ambivalence. In the instant his glasses and drink were to vanish that innocuous nature shifted, the Order Catian had written replaced with soft wingbeats and tiny legs perched on the rim of his tropical beverage. The air around Catian seemed to ripple like heat waves in the depths of summer. He knelt to the glass curiously, the researcher momentarily forgotten.

”ACF-707, The Butterfly Effect. He identified the glasswing with 707’s official designation flippantly, extending an index finger toward the translucent insect before it flitted away. As he straightened Catian looked around the room again, seeing the concrete walls and diffused light with different understanding after Papillion’s explanation. The waves of distortion that surrounded him grew stronger, be ding the light so the plants around him seemed to bend at impossible angles, their hues changing to alien extremes with diffusion of reality around them.

”Bureaucracy can be such a pain, can’t it?” The words were soft and understanding as his eyes met the researcher’s. Catian dusted his hands on the fabric of his pants, and the distortion around him dissipated in ebbing waves that travelled through the cement walls and ceiling, changing them as they passed. Hard stone shimmered, light passing through it as its qualities shifted to translucency. In the span of a few moments the containment cell for ACF-707 became a greenhouse, and its location shifted to somewhere else. A river ran past the glass walls, trees dotted a horizon littered with towering mountains and the telltale haze of a distant city.

Catian extended his finger again, seemingly oblivious to the change. His soft words were mingled with the fluttering of wings as an iridescent blue butterfly settled on the proffered digit. ”Occurrences like this are hardly uncommon in perceptual based realities such as yours. Think of how you saw the world as a child, how so many things seemed magical and unknowable. As you grew older those things were given definition, anchored in the reality of those around you as you began to interpret your reality by the rules and laws you were taught as fact.” Catian lifted the butterfly to his face, smiling as it drank the moisture from his finger in quick, flitting taps of its proboscis.

”This little guy was known as Xerces Blue, a species of Lycaenidae that went extinct over fifty years ago.” He let the words hang there for a moment as the butterfly took its leave, joining its brethren in their unfathomable machinations. ”When the mind is untouched by the ideas that define possibility for us the borders of reality become far more malleable and easy to manipulate. A butterfly might just be the perfect example of the kind of mentality necessary. Though I am still looking into the origins of these Anomalies your organization collects I have reason to suspect they’re merely an effect of the causality of the Chaotic Order your world seems to derive from.”

Catian crossed the distance between researcher and traveler in a breath, figure slightly hunched to come nose to nose with Papillion. ”You seem particularly connected with her, Rex. Why haven’t you just asked her for answers yourself?”
The glasswing reached toward the extended hand of friendship, front legs stretching before she rippled away - or disappeared, as most minds would interpret it. Rex watched the interaction with what he hoped was a clinical eye and made a mental note on the subject, as well as the way the light seemed to move around Catian. Where the ripples that came off 707 tended to be just a hint, a tickle in the back of the mind, this was a very visible change in the way the world worked, looked, and acted.

He almost didn't hear the comment about bureaucracy as that change took hold. The light in the room faded - no, that wasn't right. Rex looked up as the light changed, streaming now through the walls from someplace else. For just a moment, alarm crossed Rex's features. Moving the room "someplace else" was something that would put him so far up shit creek he wouldn't even have time to kiss his potential promotion goodbye. It was a good example of why all this was called reality-bending, the warp caused by ontokinetics rarely taking the form of a crack or snap and more of a flow, like liquid. Maybe it was a commentary on the way time and space actually worked, maybe it was just they way they interacted with perceivable time and space, but whatever the case - the room was elsewhere. And as the blue butterfly appeared and Catian introduced it, there was just a moment of doubt about whether it was else-when, too.

"Fifty-" Rex tried to interrupt, but he cut himself off to let Mr. Valor finish. Research was about patience, even if one intern wasn't big on it. Even if this might be the past, before the term "butterfly effect" even existed, and somewhere far off. He had to listen, because what else was he going to do, panic? No. Catian's words wouldn't make much sense at first, but he had to sift through them.

Words. Those were important to this, as Hal would insist. He should've had the bastard be here for this, but given his tendency to make problems worse, Rex hadn't wanted the extra risk. Still, he was way better than Rex at picking apart meaning and intention when it came to the esoteric and weird and-

No, he caught himself there. This wasn't one of Hal's demons or fairies or whatever his monster of the week was to rant about. This was a reality-bender, and reality had bent. Perceptions based reality. Hal had an open mind, but liked to close doors to keep his monsters in arm's reach, to keep control of the situation. That wasn't possible with this kind of thing, by definition. Reality-benders weren't bound up in rules and technicalities, and an open mind wasn't enough. The rest had to be open, too. Open perceptions. The world had altered - but 707 hadn't interrupted the alteration. Rex nodded, slowly, as he came to understand with only a gentle sense of insistence from his shoulder as his eyes followed the blue wings opening and closing on Valor's hand.

It wasn't going to make sense. But it happened, and there had to be acceptance for that. Of course they hadn't actually gone anywhere. 707 would've prevented it. Rex's perception of the room had just been altered, the way light and sound and smell all functioned as they communicated with a very human brain. The panic evaporated almost on the spot, almost the same way the Black Mountain Ringlet had vanished from Rex's shoulder to rest on Valor's. Definition, that was all that had changed. The rules hadn't been broken, they just didn't exist. They'd been rewritten so that a conjured, extinct butterfly could exist in the same space as his modern counterparts. It wasn't one of 707's. It didn't fit her rules, bright and blue and male, any more than Rex did. The chaotic order had a structure. It just wasn't the same as physics.

There wasn't any malice as Valor crossed the space and leaned over Rex. Green eyes met dull brown without any fury. Rex's expression had relaxed, even if he wasn't comfortable with being a breath away from someone who wasn't nearly as reliably docile as 707 had proven to be. He reached up, and scratched his chin, oddly placid.

"Communication is... different." He didn't say "hard," because in all honesty it wasn't hard on his end. "There's a missing link in the middle. She's- well, she's both something that gets reality on a level that's almost instinctive and is way deeper than I can ever actually know, and then on the other hand they're just butterflies. And I don't mean just, just? I mean - they sense things as butterflies do. Words don't - I don't know. Words are hard when you're a butterfly."

The birdwing made her agreement clear, even if Rex couldn't say as much without - oh, right. The other part, which he'd almost forgotten about as he began to actually understand what he was dealing with.

"That and I... don't need any more rumors that I'm - that she just... made me."

And that he didn't know if she'd tell him, knowing that knowledge would cause him distress. She didn't like it when she bothered him, he knew. For the first few days she'd decided she liked him she'd remove him from anything she considered "distressing". And while Rex had a degree of certainty about himself that most of his fellow researchers didn't seem to share, even that certainty had its limits. Where did human stubbornness end and instinctive knowledge start? How do you know you're real, when sometimes you can't even trust your own senses? He knew, but when nobody had trusted him for half a year.... it made that part hard.

He didn't want Catian Valor to see it was hard, but maybe the uncertainty would be in the very slight green shimmer behind his eyes, one that didn't belong there and wasn't fully a reflection of Valor's. He could ask, but there was a stone-hard stubbornness that made him bite his tongue - that, and a settled knowledge that it wouldn't change anything besides his own belief in himself. Who was going to listen to a U-class entity over an actual personnel member of the Foundation?
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Catian nodded at the man’s explanation, backing away with a look to the sky beyond the glass panels. Catian himself had issues communicating with beings that were essentially like himself before- before he had changed. Before his mind had been changed by something that could see his reality for what it really was. That illumination came at some point or another in any reality with sentient beings, even one that was designed so differently from the one he stood in now. The question always came down to whether the butterfly or the man held the better truth of reality.

And in this round Catian had lost, his summoning of the extinct butterfly a test of his own, an attempt to alter the reality subtly through a creature born of it; one with similar abilities to his own. He could see the almost primal shift of his order as the male version of his written creation appeared, and silently noted the way the Anomaly had interacted with his machinations. Despite its ability it seemed intent upon the natural order of things. What had passed had passed.

Papillion’s last words interrupted the traveler’s lightning fast thoughts with belly wrenching laughter that nearly brought him to his knees, and extended hand on the man’s shoulders as small droplets threatened to drop from the long lashes. He held his gut, inhaling sharply with a large, toothy grin.

”My friend, what does it matter? Your existence is true whether you were made by the whim of Chaotic order, for the pleasure of some unnamed god, or for the betterment of her exploration of this world.” Catian’s hand remained firm on Rex’s shoulder as he wiped the tear from his eyes, one now a bright and shining gold while the other was fire red. ”You feel my hand on your shoulder, you see the sunlight coming from outside.” The door blew open with a gentle wind that flowed through the greenhouse and Catain’s firm hand turned Rex gently toward the opening.

”If you believed that door led to the same Foundation facility that you entered from, it would be so. If you wanted to feel the grass out there, would it not also be so?” Catian let go of the researcher, his intentions clear enough to the butterflies around him, the manipulation of the Order he had created around him perhaps a bit clearer to the researcher. As a demonstration Catian walked past the door’s threshold, taking several steps and skirting partially around the greenhouse perimeter. Still grinning he tapped on the glass firmly.

”As you say the difference in what you are capable of and what she is capable of might be a matter of instinct, but I was once devoid of understanding as well.” His voice was slightly muffled through the glass. ”But even without understanding a babe changes the world around it.” Catian came back around the door, and made a sweeping gesture to invite Rex to step through as well. ”If you step through you might understand just a little more.” The butterfly on Catian’s shoulder had fluttered to his head, but otherwise remained quite content with him, perhaps an encouragement to the researcher they favored to take a step.
A chord of indignation was struck as, in response to Rex’s genuine concern for his own existence, Mr. Valor simply burst into laughter. Or maybe it was just disorientation as the birdwing made the abrupt decision to pull Rex away as the sound began, and then put him back a moment later when she saw the harmlessness of it.

Rex bristled under the initial question, furious and confused, but there wasn’t much he could do but listen. The grip on his shoulders was firm. The shift in the strange man’s eyes was enough to remind him of his inhuman nature. Even with 707 at his back, Rex didn't want to push his luck here. And besides, this attitude might be genuinely invaluable to the research he was trying to do. All Rex needed to do was to keep his head and listen.

The door opened to an Elsewhere, and Catian passed through it and reality had stopped making sense again. Rex felt a migraine starting to poke at the back of his eye in a way he'd never felt when 707 did this. He chose to take it as a good sign, that his brain was still too close to a monkey’s to properly process all of this with the faintest signs of overworking itself. Which, in turn, began to lead him down a path of revelation. One that made a little too much sense.

"Of course." Rex mumbled partly to himself as he closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. "Of course! Why am I asking you that. Or any of this." The birdwing was on the back of Rex’s hand, wings flexing gently, and he addressed her because, in a way, she was much easier to communicate with than Catian right now. "He’s not the missing link, he’s more like the bigger you, right? Just because he can put things into words doesn’t mean it’s going to make more sense because it’s a matter of what you are. He just gets it. He’s- a director, kinda. The world’s changing because he wants it to- or because I ask you to. I’m just a character aware of the fourth wall, I can’t edit the script, I live in it, but I can’t just…"

He snapped his fingers. Nothing happened except for an echoing noise. No color changed, the room didn’t move. 707 sensed his intention, but also sensed his desire. She didn’t act on it, not yet. And yet… and yet. He looked at the open door, curiosity teetering on the edges of his mind, but he was grounded by the fact that his perception wouldn't matter. Nor would faith - no amount of wishing had ever made the world change, at least for a normal human person. Space, time, logic, movement, those were the realities that Rex had to inhabit unless he allowed something else to act on him. He could change the world through free will and through motion and through the way they combined into action. The world might change when he stepped outside based on his decision, but it would ultimately be because Catian was rewriting the script, not because Rex suddenly obtained a degree of reality-warping outside the human caliber.

He glanced around the greenhouse, at the distant hazy city and the clear nearby river. Maybe that was enough of an answer to that one, for right now. It’d at least settled some of his doubts. His voice was calm again when he spoke up again.

"That question might not be important to you, or make much sense. But it’s important to me. ‘Salright, though. We'll find a different way for that one. Sorry for misunderstanding, Mr. Valor."

A decision was made. Now it was less of a question of protocol, and more of a question of why Rex was here. Why Rex had started this. He hadn't done this to get his head turned around, he'd done this to get some answers that would make sense in a report. He’d gotten one, but not the ones he actually needed. So now came the first real test. Rex adjusted his glasses as he turned back to Catian Valor through the greenhouse window.

"If you’re going to show me anything, we do it in here. 707, please bring us home."

There was a ripple like thirty-four thousand wings trying to cause the world’s fiercest hurricane - all momentarily visible, plant to plant, wall to wall on the glass greenhouse and nearly blotting out the light, and then gone as though they'd never existed. For Rex, it was like being at the edge of a gravity well, a dizzying, nauseating, but not necessarily unpleasant experience for something he’d never been through on this scale. Whether Catian had experienced this before, or if he felt the unerring pull too, was far from ACF-707's mind as their will pulled on reality. 

But the world would change, all at once. Yes, at a word of his, but not by his power. He was just open to the idea of the change, and knew how and who to ask. He didn’t pull the thread, just knew where it was and knew the tailor. That might’ve been the faith Catian mentioned, or it might’ve just been simple human understanding. But the walls would return, the light fade, and the Ringlet’s will would bend to the greater entity’s. One and many, all and one. If Catian’s reality could be moved through space, it would be put back through the wall and into the room; if it couldn’t, the room would leave him behind into the somewhere-else he’d chosen to inhabit.
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It wasn’t an uncommon enough issue for Catian to be inexperienced in the result, but the sigh he released as the Anomaly righted his manipulations came from the depths of his frustration. Though he had lost track of the time that had passed since his travels began countless times over it still struck him poignantly when his nature came to odds with those that were essentially the same as he had been. The reality Rex Papillion had been born to might have been governed differently, and his understanding of his reality might have been structured in a different way, but the idea Catian had wanted to impart should have translated well enough. He had thought the point he had made might have come to light in the researcher’s eyes, his words teetering on the edge of the precipice Rex had asked Catian to push him over.

And then he fell backward, the entity at his side flapping order back to its original place. As the room filled with previously unseen wings and the rushing filled Rex’s ears a soft pop served as the announcement of Catian’s “return” to the center of the room. For a fleeting instant, had Rex been less consumed by his own thought and focused on the traveler’s presence, Papillion might have noticed the Catian outside of the room and the one that appeared inside existing at the same moment.

It was the sighing Catian, alone near a river, who first picked up the angular stone.

It was the Catian in the room who held it in his hand.

”I don’t think you quite understand, Mr. Papillion,” the Catian with the stone said, to turn Rex’s attention as he held the rock out. ”This rock is from your reality, naturally formed by your laws.” The other hand rose, mirroring the way the first one held the rock until suddenly an identical stone appeared, instantly between the traveler’s curled fingers as if he held it from the outset. ”This stone was created by my power. Do they not both have weight? Would they both cause ripples in the water were I to drop them in a pond?”

What Catian did next might have been a bit over the top, and a cautious voice in the back of his mind whispered of the dangers of tampering with the worlds he travelled to in such dramatic ways. He certainly enjoyed the chance to put on a show, though.

The stones were released, and the entire world fell away, save Catian and Rex. Instantly an alarm rang through the order of the reality he tampered with, a warning as 707 sought the partner she had chosen while Catian moved him away from her reality. Walls and plants, concrete floor and even the light seemed to run to ward an invisible drain like a watercolor painting caught in the rain. What remained, to Catian’s eyes, was an ever shifting emptiness of light and dark, color and idea and the researcher standing upon the infinite level with the traveler. To Rex’s eyes, Catian knew from experience, the colors and emptiness, the darkness and light, would not shift as constantly, but be caught in flashing moments of never ending change.

”Creation doesn’t affect whether something is real or not. If it exists, it simply exists. This is my reality, or what is left of the infinity that was placed in my care until I find the proper place to restore it. Everything that did exist, could have existed, or might one day exist in my reality rests right here, but as a fraction of chaos the potential, history, and present of all possibility exists here as well. Catian pointed deliberately in a direction impossible in normal space, one that Rex would only be able to follow with his guidance. In that direction, spreading endlessly, stood copies of Rex. Their ages differed, their appearances minutely changed in some, greatly in others. The more Rex would look, the more variation on the basic visual representation of himself he would notice.

Catian did not give him more than a moment to investigate, knowing full well the dangers such travels and sights might bring into the viewer’s eyes. A flutter of wings in the distance warned him of 707’s annoyance, as well. He wanted to stay in her good graces if it were possible, though he was sure she would take measures against him ripping Rex from his reality in the future. He had shown him enough, he hoped, that there wouldn’t be a need for such a journey anyway. It wasn’t exactly comfortable bringing another soul from another reality into the one contained inside of him.

Stones clattered against the floor as the researcher was replaced with only a slight jolt, perhaps a deeper feeling akin to the travel 707 had previously provided. The butterfly on his hat spoke in silent waves of perturbance that Catian hesitantly brushed aside to finish his impromptu lecture.

”Existence is the point! Whether it satisfies the rumors of your origin or not, your existence is all you need to validate that you are Rex Papillion. You’re not some imitation of being, no matter how your existence came about. If anything your connection to her should be considered further proof that you, above all others, might be the most real entity in this entire reality.” A small gesture from his hand and the plants began to fully bloom, sweet petals offering apology to the minds of thousands of insects.

Removing him from difficulty will only make him less effective. It was a thought, an echo similar to the faintest breeze, driven into the greater mind of 707 firmly but without discomfort. As 707 could not quite fully communicate with mind of Rex, Catian could not fully communicate with 707, but an impression was universal enough. It is unbalanced to hold back the growth of sentience.