RP Just Another Tuesday

Isaac explained Annie, and Cait listened - mostly because she wanted another perspective on the whole thing. That was what she was here for, after all. Pepper was drawing a tree on a piece of paper, one that wasn't the best drawing ever but was still enough to get the very familiar point across.

And then there was that moment where everything seemed to come together. Cait giggled, because it really was funny, watching it happen.

"Oh, I just love coincidences." Isaac had just been saying something else was coincidental, not half a minute ago. Cait gave him a cheerful grin that might have had a bit of cat that ate the canary in it. Her elbows were propped on Pepper's desk, her chin cradled in her hands.

"I'd also add that we had the feeling that Annie and the Add-Ons didn't really have a choice about the hating. It was more like an aura - we felt it too, but of course we're hexed up against mindhax, so there's just enough of it that we know what it's supposed to be like. As soon as we got close to any of them - even the one we killed early - there was that aura of hatred. The godbait didn't seem affected by it - no self-loathing or anything, so either she's above it or outside it or inside-out it."

Since things seemed to be getting interesting, she might as well put in her part. "Here, let me pull up Annie on Hexicon and see if it's anything familiar." Hexicon wasn't technically an ACF official thing just yet. Brian had developed it carefully over a few years, because sometimes the Image Of A Thing still held power, so they'd needed a place to store images in a non-image format with some sort of code that removed their power, lest they turn into an infohazard. Cait had been trying to get him to submit it to L-6 for proper approval, but Brian was being weird about it. Uncertain. Unconfident. Shy.

That was a problem for another time. For now, Cait had the beta version on her phone, which she pulled out and scrolled through several different entries for Annihilation before landing on the one she wanted, the many-handed giant - the image was taken from Gail's suit camera and she'd been sitting right in front of it, so it was fairly detailed. She set the phone on another clear patch of desk, shooing the little paperclip man away from attempting to roll it up into the rubber band ball.

"Mean anything to you?"
Last edited:
Isaac stared at the sketch as the same pieces came together on Pepper’s face. He waited for a long moment, long enough for Cait to get her two cents in, just long enough for him to fold his hands, and take a long, deep breath in with his eyes closed.

“For fuck’s sake.”

It was very rare to hear the location manager say ‘fuck’. But he’d been approving Pepper’s expeditions for years. He had read the reports before sending them off to the right researchers or Council members or security agents. He knew what Pepper had told the reports, and this one was not a coincidence.

A shrine to a Goddess in another world, and the child who was a Goddess in another world?

They were lucky the tree had just brought over a Husk.

He exhaled, then looked back at Pepper, deciding to clear the air by answering her first question. “Thinkers are people. Husks are superzombies. Feelers are plants and animals.”

He didn’t need to ask if that sounded right. He let out a sigh again, then, as Cait set the phone down on the table, he stood up and stuck his head out into the hallway. He caught the eye of the first unfortunate intern he saw.

“Get word for Dr. Redd to come up here, ASAP. I want everyone else to clear the area. Classified business.”

The intern blinked at him, the way only an intern who knew what they’d been told but needed to reevaluate their career choice could, before nodding vigorously and shuffling off.

He turned toward pepper and sat back down in the chair, firmly, elbows resting on his knees. “I need those notes complied yesterday. Cross-researching these is going to fill in a lot of the gaps to both anomalies.”

A pause, and the intensity faded for just a second, as he looked down at the phone, as he interpreted Pepper’s response to the image but before she could speak, he did.

“Pepper,” he said, gently, and she’d know he was about to be personal because he rarely used his assets’ first names, “before he gets here, I’ll put it out there that I know how you feel about Codes. However. He’s done most of the work with Ira, and we need him in on this. And I’d like you here, too. This is an important breakthrough for your research. But if you think that this is going to be too distracting, or overwhelming, say the word and I’ll just get your compiled work and submit it for you Either way, this is your ticket to Class-D, so congratulations.”

His head swiveled to Cait, and a little of the managerial tension came back. “And Corby, please behave yourself. I want you here because you’re the only one who saw this tree in person. Welcome to the paperwork club, and there’s no way out because now this is Council business, and your Councilman is out of commission so you’re working for mine.”

And it could actually have been an order, given that Isaac outranked Cait. He didn’t leave room for doubt, at least, although he wouldn’t try to stop her if she skipped out. He had, however, addressed Pepper first, because curiosity could be a real [EXPLETIVE] with certain types of agent.

He had other things on his mind, hidden behind the professional facade. Part of him was still processing the fact that Cody had technically formed synergy with the goddess that hated Peppers, who liked Cody and was incapable of being subtle about it. It was the world’s worst– triangle. Not a love triangle, really, but it was definitely a triangle, and it sucked to be stuck in the middle of it. But hey, that’s what best friends – and location managers – are there for, right?
Last edited by a moderator:

Isaac’s response was exactly what Pepper was worried it was going to be. Pepper looked at the picture. Her brain immediately went so fuzzy that it took her a minute to respond. But before she could, Isaac asked her to compile her notes. She nodded shortly before pointing at the photo. “It’s not exactly like the one I’ve seen, but I’ve seen one very similar. Most of the Denizens look something like this. Even the cultists have multiple limbs and no faces, or eyes on joints, yeah, that’s definitely a Denizen.”

She turned away to her computer and started to print all of her reports. The printer buzzed softly in the background as Isaac used her name and just her name. That was enough to catch her attention. What he said next was enough to have her eyes widen and her cheeks flush. Something in her snapped a little and she huffed out a breath. “I'm not as subtle as I thought. First an eternal elven-year-old, then his best friend. How fucking peachy.”

She stopped, took in a deep breath and her eyes flicker to Cait for a moment, wondering how she was taking this information. Then she looked back at Isaac, and even though her face was still flushed, she nodded her head and said, “I can be here. I’m not that much of a child. I know when to shelve my feelings. I can stay. Just, god damn it, why does everyone know?’

Last edited by a moderator:
"I mean, it was pretty obvious." Actually, Cait had had no idea about Pepper's feelings on anyone until this very moment, and had not actually had any idea about Pepper until a mere few minutes earlier, and so her statement was entirely just there for the fun of it.

So much for Isaac's whole plan of her behaving herself.

Of course, for Cait this wasn't really too bad, so he was just going to have to take what he could get. Besides - something interesting was happening, and so that was definitely enough to keep her invested and out of trouble. Most of the time Cait got into things that she shouldn't, it was just because she was bored. That was why she'd adapted so well to L-9: it was hardly ever boring there.

As Isaac had pointed out, though, Strings was out of commission. Cait wasn't really that thrilled about the whole idea of working for another Councilman, but she'd put up with it for a little bit - mostly just so she'd have something interesting to tell her Councilman about when he got back to being.
Last edited:
Cait had two cents to put in, but that was relatively normal. Pepper did blush, and that was normal, too. Way more normal than most people would think given Cody didn’t have a clue.

“Don’t be offended, Pepper, but… you’ve never been subtle. Professional, yes. Subtle, no.” Might as well get that in the open, although his following smile was very empathetic. “Codes is – easily, one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. But, powers that be, can that man be blind. I know because I’m not stupid. And I think the two of you could be really good for each other, but he can’t just take a hint.”

There, his personal feelings were out, although he stated them coolly enough. He only knew about one eternal eleven year old, but he already had a feeling he knew how she knew, and he hoped an anomalous explanation would be something of a comfort.

“Ira likely knew what she knew because she and Cody had a… memory entanglement, that’s what he called it. It was anomalous and it was the first new behavior from 1003 since the death of Isaac Holtzheim. She might’ve picked up memories of hints that he missed over time.”

Pause for a beat, deliberate frown.

“This isn’t why you were putting off your report for me, is it?”

Professional, his expletive.
Last edited by a moderator:

Pepper flashed Cait a side eye, before sighing. She looked down at her hands while the printer buzzed away at the files. Something about what Isaac was saying made her feel a little hopeless. At least, it did until he expressed his opinion about them being together. That made her lips twitch into a small smile. “I honestly know I’m not that subtle. I just feel like everyone has been making comments about it. Having Ira know was honestly just, the last straw for me in that field.”

She winced a little as Isaac threw out a small accusation. She would be lying if she said that wasn’t part of the reason why she was trying to avoid doing that particular report. “It’s not the whole reason. I always put my paperwork off until I absolutely have to finish it. But… I’d be lying if I said the incident wasn’t part of the reason that I put it at the bottom of the pile. Ira said some things that were, well. Very embarrassing. I’ve been trying to figure out how to word it in a way that didn’t make it obvious in the report, but still conveyed the needed interaction.”

She blushed a little as she remembered how Cody had said she wasn’t his girlfriend. That had hurt. A lot. Like she knew objectively that they weren’t together, but the way he had said it. With that, she turned in her seat and looked at Cait. “If you say a damn thing to Cody that implies that I like him in the slightest, I will request a transfer to Nine and I will personally make myself your problem, is that clear?”

With that said, she turned to the printer. The buzzing had stopped, and twenty-six pages of unique reports from over the last few years had been neatly deposited in the tray. She removed them and turned back to face the two people in the room, laying the stack directly on the desk. It was almost as thick as the stack of reports she had to write that morning.

Last edited by a moderator:
Pepper's threat seemed to be a good one, but it failed to have the desired effect. Cait just giggled, and protested with: "Oh, but I'd love to have you back at L-9! It'd be great!" If anything that Pepper could do was half as bad as the things that Cait did on a regular basis just to see if she could, then she'd fit right in at 9 and no problem. "I don't know, I'd probably get in trouble, though. They'd be all 'Cait we just let you bring home a husk and we just got you a lil' bitty gloop god, you can't bring home everything, even if she is a researcher'. But tell you what - you come visit sometime. I'll teach you how to Unmake coffee."

The other two were talking about this whole relationship debacle, which Cait listened to with interest even though she wasn't involved. Mostly, it was just curiosity, maybe a little of knowing where to place the bets - because someone had to have a betting pool going on that, and maybe she could see if anyone was offering anything interesting. You never knew with ACF.

"Hey... Pepper? Real talk for a minute. You ever deal with one of those anomalies where you have to say exactly what you mean and mean exactly what you say, otherwise they'll gloop your face off or something? You've probably got a few of those even here. Anyway - just... treat him like an anomaly. Don't hint. Don't flirt. Just say 'I would like to go on a date, with you, to... whatever you think you two would enjoy, I don't know... as a date, just us.' And then you let him decide, but he's got all the information he needs to do it. Just... something to think about."
Last edited:

Pepper listened to Cait’s advice and sighed. “Yeah, we have one of those. I get what you’re saying. I should just be frank and tell him I like him and would like to date him. I’m… not good at expressing emotions. I grew up without the kind of social interactions a person needs to get skilled at such a thing. I get nervous whenever I try to bring it up, so I end up hinting or subtly implying instead.

She leaned forward on her elbows and put her head in her hands. She groaned dramatically and then leaned back, pushing her hair from her face. “I have a thing with him coming up, maybe I’ll tell him then. That could work. Maybe. My brain just– I go from being an intelligent and capable person to an absolute trainwreck when he’s around. I really lo– like him.”

She had almost said it, and saying it makes it real. She couldn't say it, because then it wouldn’t be true, then she wouldn't have to admit to herself what she’d been trying to suppress for so many years. Pepper had no idea when it had evolved into such a thing, but now she was stuck with it, in denial of it, and it was the real thing holding her back from telling him at that point. Because if it ruined their friendship, it would break her heart. She really would request a transfer to a different location at that point. Regardless of if she got the D-Class promotion or not.

Last edited by a moderator:
Cait was much better at relationship advice than Isaac, which tracked, honestly. He didn’t take offense, even if she did open with a little bit of a ramble. Pepper had a response, which was equally valid, because relationships wouldn’t be the focus of Foundation social interaction when it came to anomalies. He knew it had been mentioned before, but there were so many other things to focus on when it came to ensuring that they were as well-adjusted as they were. Most of the concerns were about preventing forced dependency, anyway, not the actual emotional wellbeing of the anohumans involved.

Isaac had listened to Dr. Hobbes speak of it at length. Listening was very much his department, and that was how he caught it when Pepper almost said the L-word.

“Becoming a trainwreck around someone you like is pretty normal, in my experience. But you should’ve said the thing was a date,” he told her, in the same cool, easy tone he’d been using. “Cody’s been with the Foundation for a decade now. He’s probably forgotten what a date is. He hasn’t even told me about it yet. He could be busy, but if he’s assuming it’s just a friends-thing, he probably hasn’t thought about it very hard.”

Because he was thick as a box of bricks. He glanced at the door. No sign of Cody yet. Still, he lowered his voice a little.

“Listen. As Cody’s friend, and not your location manager, I’m willing to wingman, but I won’t tell him for you. Give me a day and I’ll make sure he’s free and ready. The rest is on you.”

He meant it, too, and he meant what he’d said earlier. He figured that when Cody found out he’d… well, shut down, to be honest. And then when the system reboot kicked on he’d be honest about whatever he realized his feelings were. Honest with himself and, hopefully, honest with Pepper.
Last edited by a moderator:

Pepper nodded as Isaac pointed out she should’ve said it was a date. She definitely hadn’t done that. She had just asked to hang out out of their lab coats. That could easily be misconstrued. But Cody had agreed, so she would have to make the best of the chance she was getting. That was something she excelled at– making the best out of a single chance. She always found a way to make things work, even when it seemed impossible. She just had to view this like one of her projects.

Then Isaac offered to wingman for her and she took in a sharp breath. “Agent Cotta, I would owe you something monumental if you did that. We’re supposed to go Friday, but I don’t know if he’s even filed his vacation day yet. I imagine with all the Ira stuff, it’s probably slipped his mind. And for the record, I’m not enough of a child to try and have someone else tell him for me. Just enough to make it complicated for me to tell him myself.” Pepper gripped the edge of her desk tight enough for her knuckles to go white while she spoke. Whether it was from nerves or intensity, she honestly couldn’t say.

Pepper truly meant it when she said she would be indebted to the man if it meant she got the day to try and tell Cody about her feelings. From there, she knew it was up to her. The stack of papers was temporarily forgotten on her desk. This was definitely not the most important thing going on at the moment, but it was important to her. She took a minute to think about it before nodding her head and flashing them both a smile.

“At least I know if this goes horribly, I would be at least partially welcome at Nine.” A joke, to break the hushed tension as they talked. A joke, to signify she was ready and okay to move on.

Last edited by a moderator:
Well, Pepper seemed like she was on the right track, relationship-wise - and she had people here who obviously cared about her, even if it wasn't quite Strike Team levels of being up in each other's business. It would have to do.

And despite her tendency towards utter chaos, Cait actually was decent at the whole relationship thing and the whole people person thing. She got a lot of experience. Much of that experience was with otherplanar beings, sure, but Cait felt it still counted - and she had watched a lot of relationship drama prior to ACF, which was just a perk of growing up in a tourist town with pretty much no supervision. In any case, she could certainly recognize the time for this conversation to be over signals, and since none of them were Nic, she was fine letting the subject drop.

"You'd be very welcome at Nine, Pepper. Honestly we welcome just about anything. Some people just think that it's a bit overwhelming, that's all." 'A bit overwhelming' was probably the understatement of the day right there - but then again, Cait had fit right into L9 like a tentacled horror in a dimension full of eyeballs, so it was possible that her opinion on the matter was a little bit skewed. "But it seems like you might have a few things you want to research here, first."
Last edited:
Isaac nodded, which was much more like him from his subordinates’ perspective than the conversation he’d been maintaining. Friday would work. Unless something else unexpected happened with 1003, he could make sure that Cody’s schedule was cleared. He usually took Friday afternoons for himself anyway. It could even be written up somewhere in his office, which would make it convenient to bring up after this conversation. She made a little joke, which was exactly what Cody would’ve done in her place, and then moved forward with Cait’s help.

“Okay. Before Cody gets here, let’s consolidate the information we have between the three of us. Krasniqi, take a second and mark out the most important sections in those reports for everyone to read.” He reached down without asking and grabbed two more pieces of printer paper, one for him and one for Corby. He gave Cait hers.

“Anything you got on your outing, anything the godbait told you that might be interesting.” He paused, then course-corrected. “Interesting and relevant. I’ll put down what I remember from Holtzheim’s reports that isn’t a memetic hazard, and then Codes can tie it off with his observations about Ira. Maybe he learned something important during that memory entanglement thing.”
Last edited by a moderator:

Relevant. That was the keyword here as Pepper stared down the files in front of her. They probably didn’t care about the migratory patterns of the Dneizens, but they definitely cared about Goddess and Dead God lore. They likely cared about the different tiers of life, but they likely didn't care about how Mikulass’s family farmed the Feelers. They probably didn’t care much about geography, but maybe about how the world was made of flesh and seemed to be alive, according to the Denizens.

“I have information regarding the Goddess and how she killed the Dead God, I have different tiers of life, I have notes about the planet itself. For the most part, what I have that’s relevant is stuff from the transcribed audio logs the Lepidopterists and I took, as well as further inquiries about the relevant information. I’m sure there’s other stuff in here, so I’ll do my best to highlight what’s most vital.”

She reached into her desk drawer and slapped a handful of colored pens and highlighters onto the table. She reached for the highlighters herself but left the pens available for the others to use as they chose. She had very little time to do this, so she started quickly scribbling out colored boxes and color-coded lines. There was no time to waste. Then she came across a transcribed audio log that made her brain whirl in excitement.

“I have an audio log with Mikulass about the aspects of the Goddess. How she’s kind and benevolent half the time, and she’s filled with rage and darkness the other half. The half of the time that she’s filled with rage is always the time I’m there, but guys, I am realizing something that might be very vital. I’m never there when Ira is asleep.. I’m sure Cody will have something to fill in the blank there, but this sounds like there’s a consciousness shift happening.”

She highlighted the entire page in a box and wrote at the top “important.”

Last edited by a moderator:
Oooh, colored pens. L-14 had resolved its chaos deficiency and would be permitted to continue as it had been.

Not that Cait was actually in charge of any of that, and she did have some very specific instructions that mostly came down to not being allowed to do ninety percent of the things she would have liked to do, but it was still nice to be distracted by shiny objects once in a while.

'We shall write the left-hand name of God in purple ink. We do like purple.'" The odds of any one getting that quote or that reference were pretty slim, but it was such a fun line anyway, and perhaps it was even more fun if no one knew what she was talking about. Also, there was purple ink.

"I can pull the team audio log for specifics. For now: Thousand Three was really pissed off about the attacking constructs. Specifically, she was really upset because she kept saying they were shoddy work and she could do better - so she doesn't object to the idea of them so much as the quality. That's probably important. And interesting. And relevant. Honestly, though, I don't think we know what's relevant. Relevance is something you figure out when you realize you should have always known something. Like, you know, this whole conversation we're having."

Maybe that mattered, maybe it didn't - Cait's point was just that she didn't really know what was going to end up mattering and what might not. "Okay... so... Thousand-Three did not react to plushie C'Thulhu. That's potentially relevant in that it decreases the odds of Eldritch connection. She did react to the idea of cows and was super curious about them. I know Joshua spent some time looking at cow anatomy with her and definitely told her all the details, and he grew up in bum[expletive] nowhere, so he knows a lot about farm based veterinary medicine. Not sure how relevant that is, but she was interested."

"Um. Annie didn't like her a lot, and she wasn't really fond of Annie either, but it wasn't quite the same degree of hatred other than the bit about things being badly made. She wandered off to do her own thing for a while - she was very interested in going into the Zone, but we kinda distracted her. After a while I asked her for some spell components, mostly to see what would happen. Her interpretation of what I asked for was very loose - she had the idea of things but not necessarily what you'd expect. She seemed to pull everything out of the Zone - I think that's definitely relevant. Had to stick her hands in and yoink things out of there, rather than just pulling them out of nowhere. She seemed to want... approval? For the things she'd done. I don't know if that's relevant or if that's just a kid thing. Or just a person thing."

Too telling? Too close to home there? Maybe. Maybe it was enough to not say that Cait understood where thousand three was coming from on that one.

"Gail's the one who primarily handled Annie. Um... it seemed intelligent, had an understanding of contracts but not a fear of them. It did not want the thing in the tree to be alive, which is pretty weird since it seemed like they were the ones who were making it. There's something in that part of it that I don't quite get, so maybe that's a dig further into this situation."

She'd covered most of it, she thought, and there were all the reports from the Locusts that could be pulled in to corroborate. Strings might not have been available, but Gail did not put up with poorly done paperwork.
Last edited:

Pepper came to another paper and stopped, her eyes narrowing as she read it. Then she looked up at Isaac, her nose scrunched up. She did not like this connection but knew it was likely the right one. “You guys keep referring to that thing that was at the tree as Annie, but you called it Annihaltion before, right? I’ve asked Mikulass what happens to beings who leave the cult. He said the only ones who leave the cult are the Annihaltion, the ones who directly fight the Goddess. Their names are forsaken for the title of what they seek. They essentially become that which they are trying to do. It sounds like you guys encountered one of them.”

She directed the last part to Cait. Pepper was sure that was what the Locusts had encountered. She didn’t know how they had come to be on Earth, but she was certain that that was the case. The part that she didn’t like about this was the part where it meant one of the cultists had somehow traveled between the dimensions. And that could entirely be Pepper’s fault for opening portals between the planes.

“I wish that I had some complied information about the other denizens, but even with excessive armor, face coverings, and other gear to modify my appearance, they still try to kill me on sight. Like I can tell you the planet is made of flesh, something we’ve known since my first trip there with a field kit. I can tell you that you’re right about the Feelers, Thinkers, and Husks. But I can’t tell you much about those who worship the Goddess. They all seem to know who I am upon sight.”

Last edited by a moderator:
Isaac had picked up a dark green pen from the pile. He had a more professional black pen in his pocket, but, well, he didn’t necessarily have to be professional all the time. Just often enough that people took him seriously, despite his age. It was less of a problem here than it had been elsewhere, but some habits were hard to break.

There were also some habits that didn’t need to be broken. Like the habit Isaac had from observation research of sitting back and listening, completely unobtrusive, to a research conversation. He scratched notes, but they remained conspicuously vague – he decided to write ‘godbait’ in the place of ‘Ira’ or ‘1003’, which might be what the 9ers did knowingly or otherwise. Names had too much value there to be passed around.

“So. Death cultists who don’t mind being destroyed – that explains the ambivalence Annie had toward its own life, and why Ira doesn’t seem to mind its death.”

That was really all there was to be said about that, just tying the two ends together. His own sheet was full of crisp, small letters, easily legible, yet organized in that security way that often made little sense unless they were talking about numbers. He didn’t make any attempt to obscure it. He tapped the back of the pen against the area of desk he’d been working on, not distracted or emphatic, just idle as he worked out his phrasing.

“For security purposes, most of what I’m about to say is considered a cognitohazard, and I’ll have you both placed under observation by Dr. E after we’re done here. For the record I’m approving the two of you due to your involvement with 1003 – although for further research, Dr. Krasniqi, you’ll need to get approval from Councilman Jupiter to regularly access Dr. Mueller’s audio logs. I’ll put in a good word. I’m not so worried about Agent Corby, with the training you’d have under Strings.”

With that aside, he started to make symbols beside notes as he addressed them, as if still working through them even as he explained, or organizing them and determining relevance immediately before discussing a poing.

“With regards to baseline information. As you two likely know, 1003’s anomaly creates a hazardous zone while she’s asleep. However, an additional anomaly was discovered following her return after the Big-B Breach.” He looked at Pepper, who may not have received this part in the doctored audio she’d gotten from Dr. Mueller’s recordings. “Following the Breach, Councilman Jupiter found inconsistencies in ACF-1003’s written files, and that many of them had become both fully corrupted and an infohazard that inspired worship of 1003. I won’t give too many details, but just know that if our written notes on her change it’s because we’re in range of it, which is why it’s best to discuss it right now. As Dr. Mueller observed, it seems like she can’t change audio logs, so observation security should be able to review this conversation even if our written notes are changed.”

He glanced at one of the office’s security cameras. Pepper should know that no room was safe from eavesdroppers, but she’d also likely know that nobody in security was allowed to discuss personal information they overheard, or participate in the betting pool. He then switched back to the conversation at hand.

“1003 has always told the Foundation that she believes herself to be an Eldritch goddess of another dimension. Maybe different from the C’Thulhu family, under Azathoth, but still a relevant distinction from our usual Deity-Class entities. She enters that dimension when she’s dreaming, and calls it her ‘waking world’. This seems to follow with Dr. Krasniqi’s theory that the form of the Goddess that comes while 1003 is sleeping could be her dream – or waking – self. What you describe in that anomalous zone, up to and including her ability to create matter? That’s very similar to the death zone that exists when godbait is asleep. Make sure to bring up the approval issue with Cody when he gets here – I think that’d be relevant to his work with synergy.”

The pen tapped against the paper again, and Isaac’s face faded to seriousness.

“I cannot express enough: godbait cannot know that we know about her ontokinetics. Many of her abilities in this reality seem to be based on what a large population believes she’s capable of. Power rooted in faith, which tracks more for something deity-class than eldritch, but that’s a whole other playing field.” Here, he looked at Cait. “Now, it is theorized that if a containment measure can be invented that godbait would find satisfactorily – I believe Dr. Mueller used the word macabre, even her reality alteration could be fully suppressed. That’s been a work in progress for a while, but if this reach of information starts to be affected by that, I might start picking your brain about it while you’re here.”

He knew how to use the assets at his disposal, after all, and he had a feeling that he had ways to convince Cait to stick around, and 9 to let her stick around. L-9 seemed to keep cropping up with this, too, which made sense given its locality and specialization.

“There are a lot of unknowns about the Dr. Holtzheim situation, as well as the situation with the instances of 1003-B – the cultists that were taken back to your location, Corby, presumably because 9 is inaccessible from other planes unless someone wants accessible. What is known is that he presumably volunteered to research 1003 following the death of his wife and daughter, that he Named godbait in the Strings sense of Names, and had a dead example of That-Which-Binds in his house on the night of his death. After that, and after the discovery of her ontokinetic abilities, we’ve been running fake research, basically. At least until Jupiter had me invite Cody to initiate conversation, and she proved synergetically receptive to him. What research he has on that he’s been wrapping up after his interaction with her this past week.”

"True love, was in her eyes. Burning truth, was on her face. Even though – it was late at night, Saw her once: there's no mistake."

Cody couldn’t get it out of his head. He’d tried everything – listening to the song on repeat usually cured that, but it was still up there. He was carefully choosing to blame Ira’s use of the word “fool,” and not the fact that he’d been thinking too hard about Dr. Krasniqi. Because, well, to think about her and still be functional, he had to keep it professional.

He hadn’t been on a date since his sophomore year of high school. He knew he hadn’t been ready back then – dating for the sake of it rarely went well, especially at that age, and he was becoming more isolated at that point. The idea that Pepper had invited him on a date and not said anything made it difficult to actually categorize that way, but –

"Two heads, are better than one. Two hearts, bleed so much more. Serious! But no one's laughing. Why run, when you can crawl? True love – around the corner – out of reach, so hard to hold."

He rounded the last corner with casual slowness, coming up behind– wait, he knew this office. Before he could stop he saw Isaac sitting next to Peppers in the room, but hadn’t come up fast enough that Peppers had any way to notice him.

Powers that be, why was she here? He immediately reversed three steps, already knowing that Isaac would’ve seen him as he slid his headphones back. What was this, an intervention – no, wait, someone else was there. It had to be a research thing, then. Something classified that involved Pepper – something new with Ira, maybe, after their talk? Or something about the Dark Dimension that management needed to know about.

Okay. So it was work.

Good. He could do work. A quick breath, a second to straighten his “I found this Humerus” t-shirt and lab coat and 255 and push his hair back off his face, and then he stepped forward again, wearing the signature smile instead of the “hey not to make this awkward” smile he’d almost put on.
"Hey, Pepper! I have not forgotten about Friday – got caught up in inspections, but I’ll be free as promised." Boom, super smooth. Until he saw Isaac give Pepper a knowing look. Oh, fuck, he knew, too. Why didn’t anyone tell him? He was the one who was supposed to be going on the date.

To his credit, he didn’t visibly deflate. If anything he brightened up even more, and hovered behind where Isaac was sitting at the desk, with a friendly little nod to Cait before he started skimming whatever notes he could see. The only indication of any kind of nerve was the way his hand tugged at 255 while his other slipped into his free pocket.

"So? Where’s the fire?"

Isaac just nodded to Pepper – Dr. Krasniqi – in the way that meant he was opening the floor to a primary researcher so they could nerd talk. He wasn’t obvious about the way he glanced at what she was wearing under the lab coat – something with lace, which his limited knowledge about sewing meant that it was pretty complicated to make? And a nice, light pink skirt. He didn’t stare, very carefully, and instead looked like he was reading her notes upside-down, a rare talent that he possessed.

Last edited by a moderator:

There was more, so much more in her notes. Some of it she was sure was irrelevant, but maybe any little detail was relevant? There was so much she knew about the actual world itself, the world that she and Ira seemed to share. She listened carefully to Isaac, letting her highlighter drop to the table. She had so many questions about what all of this meant, and also a very large amount of theories. But the primary thing that kept circling in her overwhelming amount of thoughts wasn’t a question. It wasn’t any of the information they had discussed. It was something else entirely. It was a memory that she couldn’t quite place. A memory of a golden light.

Now wasn’t the time for that, so she pushed it from her mind. She could try to find that memory later in the storage room that was her brain. Instead, she went to ask a question, just something to clarify one of the things Isaac had said when Cody walked into her office. She immediately lost the thought. Her heart skipped a beat as she saw his smile, but she managed to keep herself together. Even as she felt a light flush settle on her cheeks, she kept her mind focused. Until he spoke, and the first thing out of his mouth was how he hadn’t forgotten about Friday. That caught her off guard, and she smiled brightly.

In response to Cody’s question, Isaac merely nodded in her direction. She sat upright, her smile disappearing. Now was the time for business. She could be happy that he remembered afterward. Pepper turned the stack of notes around and set them in the middle of the table, making them accessible to all at their desk. “Cait, can you pull him up a chair? He’s going to want to sit for this.”

She put her hands together, her fingers the only parts touching, and took in a deep breath. “I’ll be as direct as possible about this. We have… we have reason to believe that my Dark Dimension is actually the dimension belonging to Ir– 1003. We’ve compiled all of our shared information about both anomalies and have found significant overlap in objects and terminology found in both. Specifically, and most importantly, the shrine found at the recent event regarding 1003 is identical to shrines found within the Dark Dimension devoted to one the cultists refer to as the ‘Goddess’.We are very sure that this is the case. We’d like for you to help us fill in some gaps so we can get the whole picture.”

There, that was professional. Even if she felt her cheeks still tingling with warmth as she looked up into Cody’s eyes. Even from the distance between them, she could make out the rings of color in his hazel eyes. Seeing him there, after the conversation that she had just had with Isaac and Cait, she wanted to tell him the truth. She wanted to just stop the conversation, pull him aside, and– she looked down abruptly. Business. Research. She could tell him the truth another time. This was important, and she needed to treat it as important as it was. This was a major breakthrough for both anomalies.
Last edited by a moderator:
Dr. Redd arrived, with no idea what was going on. That was fair - Accent Cotta's message to him had been pretty brief, and Cait wasn't sure how much experience people here had at interpreting brief messages of disaster. The Friday comment wasn't really something Cait knew about, but she was pretty sure she could piece it together from context.

And now he was going to be professional, because they all were. Very, very professional. That was why when Pepper asked Cait to pull up a chair for Dr. Redd, she made sure it glorpled itself out of the abyssal floor and set itself down next to Pepper.

It was only being space conscious, of course, since herself and Agent Cotta were already on one side of the desk. This also put Dr. Redd across from her, and since he'd definitely been reading other people's notes upside-down - Gail did it all the time, so Cait knew how to spot it - well, then, it was time to be professionally taking notes.

About the situation, of course:

-Eldritch connection still possible
-Liability in files
-Logs of events not necessarily accurate

-Holtzheim situation unresolved
-Entity offshoot present at above
-Research since death -pretentious-

-Synergistically receptive to Dr. Redd
-Krasniqi also?
-Interactions in progress
-Receptivity under analysis
-Timeline still indeterminate

-Interdimensional space likely linked
-Signs of repetitive connections

-Common religious themes
-Underlying ambiance
-Terminology repeats between anomalies

Cait put the cap back on the pen and gave Dr. Redd a vague look, no doubt professionally seeing if he'd settled into the chair.

"Our team has had a couple interactions with the godbait so far. It might be worth taking a trip into Pepper's dimension and having a look around. How much research has L-14 done on that? Have you sent any teams in yet?"
Last edited:
She blushed when he spoke, and then smiled back. Good, he wasn’t completely hopeless. They might not be completely hopeless. He hadn’t already fucked it up beyond all repair.

A chair was pulled up out of the ground, which might’ve been odd except it was definitely a chair made of corduroy, which was a reasonable material for chairs and didn’t leave anomalous black stains on your lab coat or try to bite you when you’re not paying attention. It was also pulled up right next to Pepper, which was of course the only empty space at the desk and also just far enough away from her to still be professional. He was, after all, being professional, even if he was reading other people’s notes. He took the seat, and he listened and skimmed, exercising good practice in multitasking.

He took the revelation about the two anomalies in stride. Marveling at that would’ve been a waste of time, and while he had immediate questions, a lot of them were already answered, if he payed attention. He was mostly paying attention, except he noticed something odd across from him.

Cait was taking notes now that the conversation was over, which was a little weird, even for an L-9er, but it caught his attention. The first thing it told him was that Isaac had already explained most of the Dr. Holtzheim situation, and some of what Cody had told him about his conversations with Ira. It was the spacing that stood out to him, however, and made him skim a couple times until he found what should’ve been an obvious code.

Cait knew. And nobody except Ira had thought to call him out. He should’ve figured it out himself, but this was already getting old, and he’d just sat down. He made eye contact, trying to convey annoyance without actually expressing it. Then he picked up a few of the papers that had the most highlighting to skim, and then, like he’d just noticed, nodded to Pepper.

"I like your skirt, by the way. Looks good on you." He’d smile warmly if she gave any indication she’d noticed, and this time he didn’t course-correct like he did with the sweater.

“Lepidopterists went in back in early 2021.” Isaac spoke flatly and did not acknowledge either Cody’s look or comment. “I believe they’ve taken other individual excursions with Dr. Krasniqi, but Agent Richards was debilitated following separation from the bay checkerspot specimen of 707. That anomaly’s inability to follow him in was what clued us to the fact that the Dark Dimension is another plane, since the butterflies can’t dimension-hop. Drs. Neves and Motya have done a bit of research on the culture and ontophysics of the place, and I believe Agent Gilroy has been running tests on memetics available in entirely blackscale, but I don’t think they found anything conclusive we didn’t already know.”

He looked at Cody with the same little nod he’d given Pepper earlier, and Cody returned it.

"Well, my observations so far have been about how synergy theory applies to typically unreceptive anohumans." Cody fiddled with 255, a good sign he was either nervous or deep in thought. "It’s the first real research we’ve done on – um –" he glanced at Isaac’s paper, then squinted. "Are you guys all calling her ‘godbait?’ The memetic anomaly only works when she’s asleep. Anyway, let’s see – she’s told me about Husks, the nature of her divinity, which is a real mindbender, she explained that-which-binds to me, which I think is the weird tree or shrine. If I had to guess from the name and what Pepper just described, instances of 1003-A and D would then be intended to be connectors between planes."

He didn’t know enough about planehopping to be sure, but it felt right. Someone had said that intuition was best when dealing with things the head didn’t quite get. Which…reminded him. He paused for a second, and then looked quizzically at Cait as he remembered something important.

"She has also, on one occasion, described your Councilman. She said she saw him as a series of webs with green eyes while in her waking world. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about any of that, would you?"
Last edited by a moderator:

Cody liked her skirt. He thought it looked nice on her. And he didn’t say anything after that, didn’t try to elaborate on the statement. She blushed a little more and smiled at him. “Thank you. It’s my newest make.”

She then looked down, smiling softly to herself as she listened to Isaac. She allowed herself to fall back into the conversation. Despite Pepper’s nearly full attention being on the conversation, something kept trying to resurface in her mind. Once again, she saw a dazzling golden light, and she heard a voice, and it said her name and– She stopped, her head feeling like it was about to burst. She rubbed her temples, listening to Isaac finish his statement. What was it about the memory that was causing her to feel like her head was splitting in two? She tried to put it off again, but her brain kept circling back to it.

She managed to ignore it for most of the time Cody was speaking to them, but then it slammed into her like a ton of bricks. Everything suddenly made so much more sense to her. The vague memories of different doorways, the golden light, why her connection to Ira’s dimension even existed. The reason that everything seemed to know who she was when she went on her explorations, the reason the cultists called her the Heraldess– God, the answer had been so obvious, but it even made sense why thinking about it made her head hurt.

Her eyes darted away from Cody’s face to the two thin files in the cubby at the bottom of her desk. She stared hard at it, her heartbeat accelerating. Then her eyes snapped back to the rest of the group. It wasn’t time just yet. Cody had just asked something of Cait, and she needed to wait. Her leg began to shake and bounce extremely fast. Waiting was not her strongest skill, but she could do it. She reached down and pulled the two files off the shelf and placed them on the side of the desk. Her name was clearly marked down the side on the tabs.

Then, she waited and listened.

Last edited by a moderator: