RP Debriefs and Cows

Ira said nothing as Cody stood and beckoned her to follow. The only sounds coming from her direction were the shuffling of her chair as she stood and accompanied him to her desk. He was going to teach, it was only natural that she should stick near his smallness to see what he had to show her. Perhaps with another, she would have expected them to bring everything she demanded over to her position.

But Cody was a friend, and Ira was trying to be friendly. Friendly meant following your friends when they had something to show you.

Sitting down at the table, the child listened intently as Cody drew and taught. Most of which she already knew, Isaac taught her about the Foundation long ago and how everything worked. The positions were the same but the names were changed, though Leviathan remained the same. Ira still didn't know anything about them, and it comforted her that no one else did either. As long as they stayed away from her, she didn't feel the need to know any more about them. But Strings, the one Cody described in limited detail, had come toward her. He had stepped to her, whether he thought so or not, and so she needed to be prepared against him.

Her mind spoke words, but her mouth did not allow them freedom of speech as she had earlier. Closing her eyes, she tapped the purple drawing of a man with a hat and nodded, "Yes. I saw him. Studies Azathoth, you say? Old one, old among old." 'Not as old as me,' she thought, 'But if there's a prize for second place, he'd be in the running.' "Still- blind idiot. Does not move much. I bother not with him. He bothers not with me. Linked to this plane, he is? New information. Or- you do not know? Azathoth likes unknowns. Likes music too- not like me. Different tastes. Very different. I like Nirvana. Grunge music. Vibes with me."

Picking up a crayon, she began to draw circles and strings around the little purple figure. Slowly pulling together the esoteric dreamcatcher she viewed his form through. While she drew, she did ask Cody a few questions, "Why does he poke me? I poke not him. Does he poke all? Waiting to see- uh, hit the right... Mhm. Does he wish for Annihilation? One day, might poke something, get poked back. I poke back. Do not want to though. Have my own things. Lots of things."
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Ira knew a lot more about Eldritch mythology than Cody did. He figured that made sense, given her nature, and given that he was only really supposed to believe in her nature insofar as an adult believed a child talking about monsters under the bed and dreams where they’re fairy tale princesses – belief without faith – he didn’t press about how she knew. Truth be told, he didn’t really want to know.

But he did engage with her in the conversation. It wasn’t just for her sake – everybody knew without talking about it that something had happened to SV-5. Nobody knew what, though. He might be able to get some information, if he was careful and didn’t make Ira feel like she was being manipulated.

"I really don’t know much about these things. He really only talked about Azathoth as the grandfather of the things he interacts with more. There was another -sothoth, I think, but most of his focus is on, uh– the goat one? The Dark Mother." He didn’t remember that one’s name, but Ira might, and that could maybe help him connect some dots in conjunction with some personnel under him. It didn’t help that Cody didn’t remember a lot about him. There was enough, though, and maybe that would be enough to be conversational.

"Strings is a musician, though," he added, like an afterthought. It was one of the bastard’s defining features. There was always some kind of noise attached to him. "There used to be a joke that that’s the only good to come out of him. I don’t really remember him having a preference. He’d sing anything. Just… likes noise, I guess."

He smiled, a little bit nostalgic, but with a very slight edge. Remembering old times, not always good ones. At least the bits and pieces he could remember – bits and pieces and the magic from my hand

Not the time, Cody. Although now that stupid song was going to be stuck in his head all day.

"Noise, and messes. He’s a researcher, too, like I said. The kind of researcher that will poke anything once, but– I know he’s not stupid. And I don’t think he wants to die, if that’s what you’re asking. If he went poking you on purpose, it wouldn’t be without purpose. Or preparation. It’d be an experiment."

He watched as Ira sketched out the dreamcatcher. Deep breath, then question time. This was an exchange of information, after all. He could only teach her if he knew what her questions were.

"How long ago was this, Ira? And – can you describe whatever it was he sent? I want to help you, but I need information about it. It could be an anomaly I know about. Or it could be one of his Eldritch things that I don’t get. Whatever the case, I don’t think I’ll have any more answers until you’re more specific."

And, as location manager, he needed context before he decided what else to explain. This was now more than just synergy theory – if he pushed too far, he’d have to involve the Councilman. Or a Councilman.
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Ira waved Cody off as she drew, responding to his first statement fairly quickly instead of her usual waiting. "Do not speak of them. Have no interest in, ah, drawing eyes? Yeah. No eyes please. Listening for their Names. Always they do. As do I. Shared desire there. Azathoth exception, only exception. He's old, and blind, and idiot. Does not look for names. Unlike others..."

Ira listened to everything that Cody had to say with patience and silence after that, waiting until both he had finished speaking and she had finished her drawing before formulating any kind of reply. Looking over her diagram, a mess of strings tied around a loop with the purple man's head in the center, Ira sighed deeply. "Poke with plans, research. Should not look everywhere. Some secrets, stay secret. And- what he sent? How to describe..." Ira looked up for a moment, deep in thought, before looking Cody in the eye and giving him 'that look.'

The look that meant she was about to rant.

"Describe it? Describe it?! How shall I do so? Can you describe to me, Cody, the shape of Curiosity? Shall you bend a question into a shape, tie strings to it, and puppeteer the thoughts of a DESIRE beyond time?" Her voice came through very strangely now, as if two people spoke together in perfect unison, yet both voices were undoubtedly Ira's, "Tell me, Cody, how a creature of breathe-and-flesh-and-blood-and-bone might take that which is feeling-and-thought-and-desire-and-inexplicable-WHY and bend it to form, shape it into humanity, and describe the color of its hair? Shall I tell you it had eyes of green and blue within flesh that formed from the bones of a cat and the desires of a cuttlefish and the shape of an inkstain and yet it is people-and yet it is not any of those things!

And how now shall we describe MY feelings in the matter!? How I who have been so alone found something I might make-and-mold-and-love-and-shape?! Indescribable ecstasy enveloped in an eternity of education! Indescribable, Cody, INDESCRIBABLE!"

She found herself, at the end of her rant, standing on the table and shouting at Cody. As if coming back to herself from a moment of rage, Ira regained her senses and shook herself off. Looking about, she spoke, a singular voice coming through now, "I, uh- no. Did not mean yell. S-Sorry. Can, can you, please-" She did not ask for help down, but she held out her hands. She definitively needed help.
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He caught the look in Ira’s eyes, and smiled a little, half-encouraging, half-patient, as he waited for her to take off. While her eyes held his, she might see something change in them as her voice shifted – not just a researcher’s curiosity, something else. Not the faith of a disciple, either. His head tilted, ever so slightly. And he well and truly listened, not even bothered by the rise in volume, although he leaned back away from the table when she climbed it.

Once again, to his credit, Cody took everything in stride. Maybe his experiences with Strings in the past had helped him learn how to categorize and sift through things that didn’t actually make sense. The idea that things like that recognized their Names was normal. Maybe that’s why human brains like Cody’s that weren’t involved with them often forgot. The main thing that didn’t make sense was the Curiosity. Something – ink black, with teeth and maybe claws, intelligent, probably tentacles? Sounded Eldritch to him, which was by literal definition indescribable, as she’d said. That was par for the course when it came to Strings, as he’d already explained to her. Something Eldritch forced into a physical body, somehow, probably by her abilities in her “waking world”.

It didn’t have to make sense. Some things just had to be taken as facts.

But that she had come to love the piece left behind, the piece she could mold and manipulate, that was interesting. It certainly brought her joy. The shouting was a new joy response, but it wasn’t unusual for a human child to get loud or expressive when happy beyond simple words. Feelings were big, when you had a little body. Cody knew that.

The table was also big for a little body. His smile became his own again as she quieted down and realized her predicament, and held out her hands. He stood up, and let her put her hands on his shoulders while he took her by the waist. He picked her up, and lowered her, gently. In the other place, she was omnipotent. But here she was a little girl, as he knew from his first visit. An eternal child. Here she needed his help, and he doubted she’d take offense to either his touch or his release.

Still, she’d answered only… most of his questions. He already knew she had trouble with time, though. Passage of time was blurry in her memories. So he decided to take a different approach, because when this happened in relation to Strings was very important to his next step.

"I understand," he told her, with a nod. He wasn’t lying. He felt like insofar as he could understand, he did. "I still have two questions, though. First, how–" a Cody-pause, a rephrase, "How many sleeps has it been since this Curiosity-thing came into your dreams? And second, you said before it split in half. If you kept half of it – what happened to the other half? It just, what, returned to Strings, and then vanished?"
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Ira wasn't sure why, but she didn't feel any shame or indignancy as she set her hands on Cody's shoulders and he lifted her, ever so gently, off the table and set her upon the ground. Nodding a 'thank you,' Ira moved back to her chair and sat down. She looked Cody in the eyes as he asked his questions. Just because she often occupied herself during their conversations did not mean she could not hold eye contact, but she hoped this focus wasn't too jarring on him.

He asked simple questions that should have had simple answers, but they didn't. The first one made Ira think long and hard about her answer, then, with a sigh, she shrugged, "I do not know- well, maybe, uhg. I think it corresponded with... Thirty- Thirty-one, sleeps? After we met. Thirty something. Nights after our memories, shared. Yes, that was it. However time ago that was." Then, to his second question, she waited again and thought about how she might answer it.

It did not come with an easy answer, her decision to let one go and keep the other. Mostly it was because it wasn't her decision, it was Her's, but her and Her were the same, Ira knew this. Everything she did She did and everything She did she did, they were not they but I. Shrugging her shoulders and focusing her mind to the matters of the flesh and blood, Ira made sure to keep looking at Cody and continued, "Hard to explain. It was not original intention. Destroy it, I intended. But then, discovered it sent by another. Had to track it. Let part go, watch where it went. Burrow, burrow so that I might follow. That thing, you understand? Destroy the other part. I intended, but..."

Ira was quiet again, failing to maintain eye contact as she continued to think of a way to explain what happened. No, she knew how to explain it, she just didn't want to admit the feelings she held and the feelings She held were one and the same. She loved Enki, and she loved Enki, and She and she could not be at odds with their feelings, even if she had difficulty admitting it. Looking back to Cody, Ira resigned herself to the truth, "The other part, requested hospitality. Grant such things, rarely I do. But, it begged so well. Then it transformed. And, she was beautiful. And- I am vain. I like beautiful things. I fell in love. I did not-" Ira choked, grabbed her shirt, demanded control of her emotions, "Did not want- to be, alone. So I keep it- keep her. Beautiful thing, precious thing..."

For a few minutes, Ira was silent. Regaining her composure, Ira asked, "Cody, why do you fear? The strung man? Poked me once, he did. Forgive it, I can. Twice, I shall not. Do you fear because, poke again he will? Incite my ire? Or, do you fear for me?"
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Cody resumed a seat at the table as he and Ira studied each other. She answered his questions, and he kept the necessary mental notes, but there was something in his eyes as he held her gaze that said he wasn’t just listening. There were shifts of movement in his gaze, the almost imperceptible motions of the human eye, as he watched her small wholeness. He did blink, as was human, but otherwise the look was unwavering.

He listened as she spoke of destruction, as she spoke of love. Maybe he was trying to interpret her actions – maybe he was just trying to make sure he didn’t press her too hard. But she spoke freely, and he saw the clutch she made at her shirt. He gave her the silence she needed, and then she asked her question. His returning smile was a little sad as she tried to turn his attention away from her loneliness. Rather than answer right away, he picked up a piece of clean paper and set it in front of the chair next to him.

"Do you want to draw her for me? That might get the emotions out." The tone was reasonable and neutral, but kind, and tinged with genuine interest. There was probably some research purpose in asking Ira to draw something she’d described as both indescribable and beautiful, but he also recognized this was the place where she looked for a distraction, most of the time.

Then came the sigh, gentle and melancholic. His attention shifted to her question, and his hand found 255 without him realizing it.

"I’m not afraid for him, no. I’ve known him long enough to know he can handle himself. He wouldn’t be on the Council if he wasn’t." He was very careful to leave choice words out of his habitual descriptions, and instead changed focus.

"I know you’re a Goddess in your waking world, Ira." Reasonable, neutral, kind. Magic trinity. "But here, you’re a child. I’m responsible for making sure you’re safe. I don’t want him to come and poke you here – and I can’t stop him if he tries. I don’t know if you can reach him from there, but I know he can reach you from here. Please be careful about him."

Cody’s smile faded out completely as he finished speaking. He was addressing her as her friend, yes – but at the same time, there was the tired sternness that came with being her location manager, with being a researcher. He could be here for her, as her friend. There was only so much he could do in the long run, even at his security classification. He wanted her to know how important this was to both sides of him, maybe to make her understand how important this would be to her. He had no idea what Strings would do. But something did tell him it would be bad. Or, at the very least, a big expletiving mess.
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"No." Ira responded quickly to Cody's first statement. Then, realizing it was perhaps a little too quick, offered clarification, "Not yet. Maybe, next time you visit. Not now. I am, unready." She did not look up as she spoke, Ira was in the process of regaining her composure and if she looked at Cody now she was certain she would break again.

Quietly staring at the drawing of strings around the purple man, Ira listened to the rest of what Cody was telling her. He was being patient and kind and unbearably reasonable. Ira hated reasonable. Reasonable was how She spoke. But She was usually right, just like Cody. So she listened to Cody and nodded along until he was finished. Then, having fully regained her composure enough to give a cheeky little smirk, Ira responded, "I am Goddess everywhere. Not only waking world."

Looking up at Cody, she adopted her more serious face and tone as she continued, "However- understand you. I do. You remind me, you do. Isaac, you and he. A lot alike. Friends, you would be- ah, no, would -have- be? Have been. Yes. Would have been." There was no pain in his memory, that was still new, and Ira decided not to explore the emotions further today. "Be careful, no. Follow my rules, yes. Always will. Will not poke. Do not want to. Can reach him, anytime. I know where he -is- now. Impossible to escape. Listen, I do, for my name. Careful to use it, all should be. Dare to invoke me, do not. But, above all else-"

Ira stopped, stood up, and walked over to Cody. Setting her hands on his shoulders, she looked up him and down before declaring definitively, "I have you. You will keep me safe. I doubt this not." And, at that, she hugged him. It was an awkward motion to be certain, like someone who had only ever seen a hug on the television attempt at imitating it for the first time. But Ira was trying at the very least. Pulling away from him after a few moments, Ira began to walk away and waved Cody off.

"Tired. I am tired. Visit me again later. Guide your steps, I will, Cody."
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Cody was more than used to letting Ira have her space when he felt she needed it, and so he didn’t press the matter of the Curiosity thing. When she was ready, she smiled at him, and he reflected it back to her as she mentioned her godhood again. There was the Ira he knew, for just a moment, before –

Isaac. Her Isaac. Maybe eventually he’d introduce her to his Isaac, but he didn’t know what they’d do together. Maybe they’d sit in silence. Actually, they might enjoy that, in their own way, both of them. It’d certainly be different from Cody, and he was starting to get the feeling Ira was almost ready for something different. Start smaller than the other location manager, though. Another researcher…

Ira interrupted him just as he came to a conclusion by hugging him.

She was going to be safe. He’d promised. And he promised again as he brought his body around hers in return, not with words, but with the touch. His embrace warm, and full. He hadn’t had an excuse for a hug like this in a while, but he was better at it than Ira. There was no hesitation, no shame. He held her until he felt her want to pull away, and maybe a fraction of a second longer, but he did let go, and he did stand as she stepped away.

"I’ll visit again soon. I promise."

Cody gathered up his lab coat from the floor. He considered taking the paper, for a moment, and then decided against it. First, the security issue of altered documents, but second – second, it felt more important for her to have it. If he needed it, he could come in and ask. He trusted her. And he could feel that she trusted him in return. He smiled at her from the doorway as he turned back one more time.

"Good night, Ira. Sleep tight."
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