Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Recruitment #12: Lacuna

04/14/2014
Recruitment #12
Lacuna, Part I. The Birth of Mystery and the Girl from Blue City

Three new applicants.  Recruitment quickly processes them.  Agent Fuller, Agent Currier and Agent Ryder.  The three find themselves assigned under the Team Leader Senior Agent Mason.  There is mention of Dara Intervals being practiced ever since the incidents of "the Open Window" and "the White Room".  The Dara Intervals are the 30 minute intervals where one contacts Control to inform them of the locations of all the agents.  Mason is even cited as instrumental in formulating them.

Vice-Director Forester contacts Control and reminds her to reflect the corporate sponsorship given the events of "the White Room."  The screen displays the latest sponsor.


Control thanks the sponsors for the video.  Agent Currier actually wonders who the sponsor actually was.  The screen flickers.  The receptionist does not return.  Then a second video starts playing on the screen.



A man bursts into the room, interrupting the video.  He frantically tells the agents that it was an unauthorized transmission.  He apologizes for the troubles.  "Reception will have to be... resumed by me."  He seems happy to see the others all have their records and the heart rate monitors.  He asks Senior Agent Mason to choose his second in command.  Mason raises that he understood the company had assigned newer devices.  The man, however, insists that the company has its reasons especially since the current ones have been found to be faulty.  Mason notices the new Receptionist seems to be new to his role.  He remarks, "Yes.  I must have fallen asleep."

Lacuna devices are handed out. And insertion parameters are started.  Mission objectives are to be given upon arrival via the Team Leader.

The team awakens to find themselves all sitting around a table.

In the Blue City, Agent Fuller finds a key hanging in front of the table she is at.  Agent Mason uses his Caller ability to reach Control and asks Control to identify him.  Control, however, claims to await "Dara Parameters".  Control requests for visual confirmation of each Agent.   Control, however, asks for an Agent Hooper.  When Agent Mason clarifies there is no Agent Hooper among them, Control confirms successful confirmation.  Mission Parameters are given:

Locate Personality Fraulien.  Identified by rose tattoo in inner thigh.
Confirm identity of Fraulien.  Information for confirmation to be delivered upon sighting of Hostile Personality.
Escort Personality Fraulien to the Bridge.
Acquire from Personality Fraulien access parameters to Deep Blue.
Upon acquisition of access, confirm with Control for immediate Promotion.
Insertion into Deep Blue.
Further parameters to follow upon success of existing parameters.

A phone rings in the distance.
Agent Currier approaches one of the windows.   There is a massive parking lot outside, but Currier realizes he cannot read the number on the parking lot.    Agent Mason tries calling for Kira.  Agent Ryder asks Agent Fuller if they should look for the phone.  Currier points at the number outside and asks Fuller to read it.  She can read it as "14."

Agent Fuller heads to the door that's ajar and realizes she can hear something outside.   Agent Mason's calls to Kira are not answered.  He instead calls Control and asks requisitions for weapons.  Four revolvers are shunted into the Blue City.  They manifest under the bed.

Agent Ryder asks Currier if he can see the key.  He approaches the locked door and checks if the key will work on it.  But he notices the key looks more like keys for handcuffs.   Currier peers outside the other window, and steps on the bed once Mason has pulled out from under the bed a gray case with the Lacuna symbol.  Inside are four revolvers.  Mason hands them out to each Agent.  "This the easiest Requisition request I ever had!"

Mason and Currier peer out the window.  Fuller discovers the other door leads to a bathroom.  There is a bathtub, with the curtains in the tub area.  The toilet is grimy.  The floor is wet.  Fuller reaches for the shower curtain.  "This key isn't for the locked door," Ryder shakes his head.  "Who wants to hold this?"

The billboard outside shows a beautiful woman in red.  The woman's face is not seen.  Her hand holds a cigarette however.  The writing under her read: 21, 29, 48.   Mason looks out at the buildings and starts to make out the letters they form suggests other words.

Fuller finds something in the bathtub.  She reaches for it and pulls it away from what seem to be coagulated blood.  The others turns to see her emerge from the other room.  "I found this," Fuller tells them and places the thing down.    A phone starts ringing again in the distance.    But then the phone is suddenly cut off as if someone had answered it at a distance.

Mason opens the last door, a door which somehow is not locked for Mason, to reveal a corridor with a gaudy wallpaper pattern. The floor is a ratty cement floor, with multiple doors in the hallway.  A sign in the distance suggests an elevator and a fire exit in that direction.  They see the room numbers on the walls.   Currier stays on the rear as they move in a straight line.  The first door has muffled sounds of what seem to be a television show.  Laughter. Music.  The next door has the sounds of cats.  And an old woman asking them to wait for their turn.  The third door is a heavy banging sound... like a washing machine.  The fourth door has a snoring person.   The next three doors are quiet.  And finally, the corner.

On the end of the corridor past the corner, the elevator and the fire exit can be seen.  The far end door opens, and a man in a red uniform steps out.  The bellhop walks out with a silver tray.  He gives a small salute as he walks towards the four Mystery Agents.  He is whistling as he walks.   The song he is whistling is the reception song.

The four keep watch of the man as they walk down the corridor, moving past the bellhop.  Ryder steals a glimpse of the bellhop and realizes the man looks like a mannequin.  His skin is too smooth.  Too normal.  Too neat.  The group reaches the elevator but its not there yet.  So they opt for the fire escape.

The corridor has naked bulbs, cement walls and floors.  Mason apologizes and tells them he doesn't trust elevators.  Ryder peers out and looks around.  Fuller admits she noticed the man is humming the reception song.  They slowly descend the fire escape.  "There's just too many things going weird in this mission," Mason admits.

Occasionally there are sounds of a passing train.  Of humming machinery.  Then a long fog horn suddenly blares.  The group continues heading down, all the way to the ground.  Exhaustion grows.  The Mystery Agents' hearts begin to pound.  At the ground level, they find another bellhop stepping into the stairwell.  He looks at them, surprised, and pulls out a cigarette.  "Any of you got a light?"    They say no.

A lobby.  They emerge and see the facade of the building decorating a wall.  The readers realize the facade spells out "Housing".  The person at the counter in a black suit and velvet red bowtie.  His head, however, is an animal head or mask.  Not a human head.  A white rabbit.  With red eyes.  As they head for the door leading out, the man at the counter follows them with its gaze.  The rabbit calls out, "Miss De Leon!"  Agent Fuller ignores the voice, even if the name the rabbit calls out sounds... so familiar.

"Excuse me! There is a message for you Miss De Leon."

Fuller asks Mason if she should respond and he tells her to get it.  She walks back to the Rabbit and asks, "You have a message for me?"  The Rabbit explains that a young man left her a message.  He hands it to her.  She reads the card, "Fraulien is dead."  Fuller asks the Rabbit if the man said what is name is.  The Rabbit confesses he did not but he did mention he works for the Ice Cream Company.  The man is bald, scar across face, and grey eyes.   The Rabbit asks her to leave her number.  When she admits she doesn't have her phone, the Rabbit corrects her, "Yes you left it here on the front desk."  Fuller is unsure if she should take the cellphone being handed to her.  Mason steps in and tells the Rabbit, "Thank you for being so helpful.  We really have to go."  Currier looks at the mask closely and realizes it is no mask.  There is no seam.  "That is a very good mask," Currier mutters. "I am sorry Sir?" the Rabbit asks.  The group hurries off. "Yes, I wouldn't want you to be late. Time after all," the Rabbit smiles.

They hit the street.

The sky is a brilliant dark blue.  The streets are quiet.  There are people walking about.  It is a lively yet quiet street.  Currier tries to recognize landmarks but his brain hurts when he tries to memorize shapes.  Mason pulls them all to an alleyway and warns them, "Do not call attention to anything that seems unusual.  Be advised if you are to kill anyone, once between the eyes, and twice on the chest."   Fuller brings up the "Ice Cream Company" and she tells them of the message about Fraulein being dead.  Ryder admits he has a Contact in the Blue City.  He recalls a man named  Marcus, a homeless man whom he trusts.  Ryder starts leading them to where he would be.  They walk past an accident where cars had smashed into each other.  Mason mumbles for Control and informs them that Fraulien may be dead.  He admits they are still authenticating the information.  Control tells them, "The keyword is Nasrudin.  This is now the word for authentication."  All the other Agents hear Mason repeating the word over and over.

Ryder tries calling Marcus.  "Do you know of any man with a scar on his face?"  Marcus responds to Ryder's voice excitedly about how he can talk to him telepathically.  "We did it a couple of times already," Ryder tells Marcus and he admits he forgot.  Ryder describes the guy once again and Marcus admits he is staring at such a man right now.  He tells Ryder he is near the Fountain right now.    Marcus admits they are at the other side, being at the Motel near the Pier.  Marcus shares he can see the bald guy staring at him right now and coming close.   "Just act normal," Ryrder tells him but the connection is lost!  As he tells them what happened, Mason shakes his head, "You called your Contact?" He admits he only thought one can call Agents and Control.    They get the further details of the conversation.  A newsboy is talking about "Terror on the Bridge" and it shows the ruins of helicopters on the structure.  Mason finds the picture shown to resemble a past mission.

They opt to make for the Fountain.  Mason however admits there's a huge chance Marcus is dead.

Mason calls for Control and requests for a vehicle.  Control warns them none of them are a Driver.  They may have to walk it.  Fuller wonders if they could have purchased the paper to check the obituaries.    They continue walking, hoping to get to the Fountain soon.  Ryder tries calling Control and the Dara protocols are engaged.  Ryder is asked to give the confirmation.  Ryder is unable to answer. being uncertain.  He risks saying Nasrudin.  Control confirms the term and reminds them to do Dara Protocols every 30 minutes.  Ryder requests for a Medical Kit and Control confirms its been shunted to an alleyway to their right, two blocks from now.  Currier is impressed that the item has been planted along the route they are taking.

"TEDDY!" a man in a jacket with a frog face calls out to them.  All the agents are confused.  Agent Currier realizes the frog is talking to him.  "Haven't seen you in a while, Teddy. What are you doing here, Game night?" The Frog asks if this is some kind of LARP thing going on right now.  The frog asks to join the game.  Currier glances at Mason and Mason throws out, "I don't know if you have the right clearance."  The Frog offers he has skills and that he can drive.  Mason suggests they're looking for Fraulein and that if he can bring them to her, they can have him join the game.  "To prove you have the right Clearance," Mason smiles.  "Think of it as Initiation," Fuller smiles.  "Who is she?" the Frog asks.  "You SHOULD already know," Mason grins.

The frog leads them to his truck and allows the others to ride in the back.  The pick up truck starts and they head off.  Ryder calls out to Currier and suggests to tell his friend that they can drive faster.  But to stop at the second alley for the First Aid kit.  They find the box and continue on the trip.

"What did you ask for?" Mason asks.  Ryder admits he asked for a medical kit.  This was not a medical kit. Mason notices the front has an eye design.  Mason  warns them that if they see more eyes to be careful.   The frog asks Currier how Miner is, and he tries to suggest Miner was in an accident.    "I don't think any of us have seen Miner in a while."   The frog does tease about how days ago, it started raining frogs.  He mentions there was some kind of fight going on when the rain started.    They arrive at the Fountain.

The Fountain is a beautiful place with the letters that spell out Fountain.  It is close to the Park.  They disembark the truck and head down, looking for Marcus.  They make their way to the closest alleyway. Currier heads down the alley.  The others quietly follow.  Marcus is leaning on the wall and sees them.  Ryder asks what happened and he talks about his struggle to get to grasp his situation.  He feels he is in a make believe world entertaining people who he cannot see, in a world beyond reality, who shape stories and throw dice for their own amusement.  Marcus seems to have forgotten what they have talked about.  Fuller looks around for any hostile personalities and finds none.  She sees a window which looks straight at their area.  Currier checks if anyone is paying attention to them.  Mason realizes they are near the hedge garden with the path to Kira.

There are cats staring at them.

Currier turns to the Frog, "So, where do you think we can find her? Fraulien?"  The Frog replies, "Are you talking about the REAL Fraulien?"  When they say yes, he admits the real one is dead.  He tells them she is at the funeral.  People kidnapped her, took her by helicopter and took her to the bridge, but the secret police shot the helicopter down and she died.  Mason teases that the Frog has a lot of potential.  That he "leaps across adversity."

Then, a single guy in a suit appears.  He is walking down the street, headed in their direction.

Fuller sees something at the window, and worried, she pulls Marcus to one side.  Marcus, however, resists since he does not know her.  As they drag Marcus towards the car, Ryder tells him to just follow and stop asking questions.    The fourth floor window opens and a woman in reddish hair and a suit peers out.

"We need to split up, you make your way to Fraulien and look for people dressed like that," Mason whispers to the Frog.  The Frog agrees and heads there. Mason and Currier see Fuller and Ryder dragging Marcus with them.  The man in the suit is half a block away.  Tension rises.  Ryder asks Marcus about the bald guy but Marcus claims not to remember any such man.  When Mason uses Caller, however, to call Marcus - No one answers.  "Sorry we bothered you," Mason starts telling Marcus and was on the verge of withdrawing the group when the man throws a punch at him!  Mason catches it with one hand.  Marcus twists, however, and launches himself to kick Fuller away as well towards the wall.   Mason mutters to the others, "Not Marcus."  Fuller cartwheels away to dodge.  "Marcus" notices there is something under Ryder's jacket.  As Ryder pulls back, Currier sweeps under to strike the sole leg "Marcus" is using to stay standing.  As he falls, he spins and wraps both legs around Currier's neck!  Currier pulls an arm between the legs and pins him.  Mason draws the gun out, presses it close and before he could fire, he sees the Lacuna device in "Marcus"' hand.  "Dara Protocol," Mason growls.

"Nasrudin?" Marcus responds surprised.

Currier and Fuller look around and see the guy in the suit suddenly crosses the street to move past them and head straight to the park.  A guy is selling flowers by one alleyway glances at them but continues to the park.  None one else. Mason puts the gun away, tells them "Not here," and leads them to the hedge.  Currier drags 'Marcus' with him.  'Marcus' grabs his face, it pulls away with the homeless clothes, and they all realize it was a Mystery Agent in Cover.  "You're all agents," he tells them.

"Apparently, so are you," Currier growls.

"I've worked with you before, I recognize you," Marcus admits.

They move through the hedge garden and as they make their way through it, they see... a wake.  An open casket is surrounded by flowers.  Large pictures are images of Fraulien.  The people in suits were all paying their respects.  Mason pulls them into the side house, the one Kira and Miner had showed him before.  Those who go through feel the thorns tear into their skin and let them through.  Mason changes his face into a spider mask and they all see him as a human with a spider face.  He steps through and it rips it away.  The thorns tear away any disguises it seems.  And thankfully Bulletproof resists any pain.

Fuller sits down to meditate.  Currier and Ryder look around in awe.  The room is a dome.  There is a pedestal with a phone in the center of the room.  Mason closes the door.  "What shall we do with this box," Ryder asks, but Mason focuses on the other agent.  He explains his name Dyer and that Agent Mason and he worked before in a mission.  "The eyeballs with legs."  Dyer explains he threw a punch because Mason supposedly died in the White Room with Miner.  That's what the Company has been telling everyone.  Dyer admits he's been in the Blue City for at least a month now.  And that they eliminated Fraulein and are now waiting to see who are her compatriots.  Mason checks if Dyer still talks with Reception and he confirms they do.  Mason does confusingly share that Mystery Agents now run Reception.  He shows Dyer the box and he identifies it as a "drop from Kira." He explains she is the one who has been helping them since they have been here.  Her lack of answers would mean she is in Deep Blue.  They open the box to find inside a number of keys, a magnetic tape, and a pair of handcuffs.   "So what's our next step," Currier asks Mason.

Ryder asks where Marcus is and Dyer admits he eliminated him.  The man was identified as a leak and was eliminated to avoid helping the enemy.  Mason calls Dyer but there is no response.  Dyer mutters, "At least you guys are armed.  Can I see your pistol?"  Mason raises his and mutters, "Why does it have to happen every time?"  Dyer explains he is who he is, "You saw me.  I walked through the thorns!  The Cover has been removed!"  Mason shakes his head, "Then why can't I Call you?"

"Crap..."

Mason shoots, and the bullet rips into Dyer's face.  The sound of the gunshot is loud but Fuller maintains her meditation.  A figure leaps out of Dyer's body, dressed in what looks like belts strapped around its body.  The body is covered in fine needle-like hairs with a spider face.  Its hands hold pistols.  Currier leaps to grab the Spider, and he drops to the ground with the thing pinned underneath him.  The other arms slam at him, trying to make him leg go.  Ryder pulls his gun up but is uncertain if he shoot fire.  He shoots.  The second shot blows away the Spider's head.  Purplish goo splatters all around.  Mason calls out to Control but no one responds.  As he reaches for the Hardline... Control answers.  Control asks Mason to identify himself.  Dara Protocols match.  "Intelligence reach us that all Hardlines are compromised.  Stick to contacting Control from now on."

Currier searches the body and finds more odd trinkets: a button torn from a jacket, a strap broken from a watch, a torn piece of a handkerchief with the letter D on it (and oddly, Currier can read it even if he's not a Reader).  "Nothing is going wrong with this Mission.  I can't even authenticate.  Control knew the word.  Assuming it was Control."

The Hardline rings.

"This is Kira.  Can you hear me, Agent?"

"How do I know it is you?"

"I am not certain who you are.  The Blue City is compromised.  I can only tell that your team has been manipulated from the start by Jigsaw.  If you are hearing this right now, I hope you have retrieved the package I had infiltrated into Logistics.  You must use the contents within.."

Mason tries to respond, but she cannot hear him.

"It's like all Access has been limited by people behind this.  If this helps anything, there was a team that had a similar situation in the past.  The enemy was able to simulate even Reception.  The enemy was even able to make them think they were in Reception while they were being tortured.  All I can say is the contents of the box has a means to escape but it will require a dive into Deep Blue.  I have prepared a means to enter for each member of your team.  There is probably even more than is necessary.  I am sorry, I cannot hear anything.  I will have to call again in thirty minutes.  This Kira Protocol is the only way I can reach those trapped in the Blue City.  I will ring thrice and stop if no one answers.  If you hear it, then know you are not alone.  We will continue trying to intercept all video feeds when possible.  We will try to help you in any way we can."

Ryder asks what is happening.  Mason admits he does not know what he can do with the contents of the box.  "Somehow we are going to have to use these to.."  Fuller awakens from meditation and freaks out upon seeing the contents of the box.  Currier scans the box and finds a small dream book.  He finds it odd that he can read it as well.  Mason tells them he will have to bring them into Deep Blue.  He admits he has never done this before - he used to be escorted by someone else into Deep Blue - and that things get strange down there.  "We seem stranger in Deep Blue.  Stronger.  But it is more dangerous there.  But it is the best way we can get out of here.  We cannot trust anything until we get back."

Fuller notes there are two Lacuna devices now with them.  One was from the bathtub which she found and the other seems to be from the box.  "I figure," Mason admits, "If we trigger this one, it will take us down to Deep Blue." Currier searched Dyer's body for a Lacuna device and finds instead a dead beetle that looked like the device.

"I'm going to try this," Mason says as he holds the Lacuna Device from the box, "And I will probably disappear.  But if I do, you will be second in command," he tells Currier.   "I'm sorry, I really am."  Mason triggers the device just as Fuller realizes the key she found in the room is the key to the handcuffs in the box.  The device clicks and a Lacuna opens, large enough for the whole group.  They all fall through.

"I wish things would go according to plan," Currier wishes to himself.

"I wish to be more settled," Fuller gasps to herself.

"I wish.." Ryder mumbles something.

Mason drops the box.  The contents fall out.  They all vanish into Deep Blue.

*

The sounds of static, radios changing frequencies and odd noises fill the room.   The Agents find themselves to be all sitting around a square table.  Each of them now has an animal mask on their faces.  They pull the animal masks off and realize they have the handcuffs, the key, the tape, and... light.  "This is not right.  It is too bright.  Deep Blue is normally harder to see," Mason shakes his head.  The room looks like the backstage of a theater.  The foundations and support beams are all visible.  The scaffolding, wiring and pipes are all exposed. The skeleton of a room.  Fuller stands up and starts to look around and sees two doors in the far wall.  A bed is against the wall in the other side. A window above the bed.   Quickly she realizes its the SAME room as when they first were Inserted.  Mason tries to call for Control and realizes his Access seems to be more difficult.  "This is Control, we hear you Agent.  Identify yourself."

Mason identifies himself.   Control responds with an unsettling response.  "Senior Agent Mason. You are among those listed to be unable to rise out of Lacuna.  Can you confirm the identities of other Agents with you?"  He states their names.  "Agents Fuller, Currier and Ryder are among the listed agents as well.  We are happy to hear from you.  Are you safe?"  "How do I know it is you?" Mason asks but Control  does not reply.  "Reception was wrong," Mason tries to explain, "What do you know of an Agent Trap?"  "Agent Trap is listed among the Agents that have gone AWOL."  When asked about Dyer, Control confirms that he has been confirmed as Deceased.  Control also explains that they have been missing for almost two months now.  "Two months in the Blue City??!"  Control admits they have been unable to force them to Eject from the Blue City for the past two months.    Control laments they do not have a fix on their location and can only receive their audio.  They need to get to a higher vantage point.  Control asks for their location and Mason confirms they are in Housing.  When Control admits they cannot see them, Mason explains they are deeper.  "We are in Deep Blue."

Fuller looks out the window to see if it is the same as before.  The parking lot is there but no number on the billboard.  Where the cars should be, there are stacks of leftover car parts.  The billboard, it turns out is a massive screen with protruding wires and broken lights.  Fuller decides to check the adjacent door.  Currier looks around as well, and realizes the room is the same yet not the same.  Thankfully, he still has his pistol.  Ryder tries the window by the bed and finds a balcony outside.  On the balcony, a device sits. The mechanical devices has a tiny screen, wires and some kind of gear system.  It looks like it was jury-rigged by someone.   Fuller opens the door that is ajar and peers into the bathroom.  The place is bone dry, almost covered in dust.  The bathtub has no wall, and she can see further out into the cityscape.  There are cranes in the distance.  Currier mutters, "I think we should get out of here.  We are not sure how secure this place is."  Currier checks the locked door.  As he reaches for it, he can hear the sound of a ringing hard line.  "I'm heading to THAT phone," Currier yells out and opens the door.

Ryder realizes the machine has been tinkered with to allow the tape from the box.  He slides the tape inside and it winds up.  Pressing the button does not make it start, however.  There doesn't seem to be any power supply to the machine.  There is a faint sound coming from the machine.  There is an ear-shape painted on the side of the thing.  Ryder presses his head against it to try to listen.

The corridor outside shows a clean corridor.  Fuller rushes to join Currier.

"We need extraction," Mason repeats.

"Only Seniors and Special Agents are qualified for Deep Blue," Control counters.  "This is not an ordinary mission, this is an escape," Mason growls.

"This is an anomalous incident," Control snarls.  "The SCS will be very concerned.  The other agents are not authorized to be in that section.  Vice Director Pope will not approve of this!  I will have to contact the higherups for clearance.  This will require Mythography.  Will you confirm Mythography?"

"I have never done this before," Mason admits.

"As a Senior Agent, you are cleared for Mythography. This will require.. a live Hostile Personality.  Will you be able to procure one for Extraction?  You have ten minutes."  Mason drops the call and tries to call out to Kira.  She responds.  "This is Kira."

"Really, is it really you?"

"This is Kira."

"Can you hear me?"

"Yes."

"What is the record for how many eyes?"  Mason pushes the question, knowing only the real Kira he spoke with before knows about his encounter with the room and the Eyes.  They discuss extraction plans.  Mason tries to stress FOUR.  Kira mentions she will prepare boxes in Blue Level.  She talks about using the boxes to intercept any requests.  She tells him they will be used to slip into Deep Blue.  Each box will contain the keys needed for extraction.  There should be at least six keys to provide for a full team.  The keys will manifest as your Masks once in Deep Blue.  Do you understand?  Your masks will inform you of any Hostile Personalities among you.  Use the handcuffs to capture the HP.  Mythography will require one for extraction.  Identify them and find your way out.    This is the most I can do, I am sorry.  Time is strange in Deep Blue.  But I hope I was able to prepare the boxes before you arrived here.  I am happy you know my name and I am happy you can Call me, but I can only hear part of what you are saying.  Right now I can hear nothing.  Nothing but growing Static."

Ryder listens and what he hears is a male voice.  "You will tell me what I want.  You will tell me the names of the Agents that are existing."  The sounds of electricity surge.  Ryder hears another voice, another man calling out, "Don't tell him anything, Currier.  We won't give in!"  "None of you will Escape.  Not while I have all your Lacunas."  More electricity.  Sounds of torture.  Ryder turns and yells for Mason to come to him.  Mason drags Ryder away from the window.  "Wait, I need to get the tape.  It is a recording of torture.   The torture of Currier."  Ryder pulls the tape out.

Currier and Fuller heads down the corridor, following the sounds of the ringing.  The first door has the sounds of a television.  The second door is a back-masked Russian language.  The third door sounds like a washing machine made of metal scraping against itself.  Then the fourth door.  Growling sounds of dogs.  The fifth door has the ringing.  Both draw their pistols.  Currier checks if it is locked.   It isn't.

Mason and Ryder brisk-fully catch up with the others.  They ignore the sounds of the other doors and close in on the fifth one where the others had gone to.

The room opens to a large room.  An extremely huge figure seems to be asleep on the couch.  But on second study they realize it is a large human-sized teddy bear.  The television shows static.  Currier carefully walks towards the ringing phone.  Fuller stays by the door, pistol ready, to cover him.

Currier picks up the phone and he stars to hear a voice speaking a series of numbers being repeated over and over again.  Currier feels frustrated that he cannot seem to lock the numbers into his head.  Like the numbers aren't... making sense.  Fuller moves into take the call.  The lights surge for a second as Mason and Ryder arrive.  Fuller starts reading out the numbers:  21, 29, 48... They realize its the same numbers they saw earlier.  Fuller puts the phone back down.    Mason isn't happy.  He scolds them for going off on their own, but they defend their actions stating they were moving together.  He then scolds them for answering the phone.  Fuller counters, "You answered the phone earlier."   Mason reminds them he gave them orders.  "This is your first time in the Blue City."

The dogs have gone silent.  A voice in that room calls out, "What is it boy?  There's someone outside?"

Currier asks for the plan. Mason tells them to keep their masks and that they have to capture a Hostile Personality to get out.  That's when the fourth door opens and a man steps out.  The man is in a bathrobe, but his naked body is that of a dog.  Only his face is human.  He stares at the Agents and asks if there is something wrong.  Ryder sees the eight cats around the man's feet.   The cats are growling like dogs.

"What is your name," Mason asks the man.

"I'm sorry, this is my home.  Are you tenants?" the dog-man asks.

"Just visiting."

He tells them his pets are being disturbed and asks them to close the door.  "We do not like to be disturbed.  We would like to get our rest."  Mason presses however, telling him they need to find a Personality.  When the man ignores his query, Mason admits they are just leaving.  Currier and Fuller join Mason at the corridor.  Ryder sees the television set come into focus, the screen synching into a new video feed.


The others watch the video.  One muses this might be another message from Kira.
Is it?  Currier has an idea.  He glances back at the giant Teddy bear.  True enough, it has stitches on the chest.   A Y-shaped pattern.  Fuller looks around for something that can be used to cut the stitches.  Ryder secures the door.  Currier looks out the nearest window and it is boarded up.  The planks have been painted over with white eye patterns.  Ryder looks for a knife or scissors.  Fuller finds it before he does, however. Mason opts to sit down and let them handle this for now.

Mason starts holding the mask up to look at the bear.  Fuller starts slicing off the stitches.  Mason studies his mask more carefully, but finds nothing else on it.  The others notice this and start glancing at their own masks.  No one seems to find anything of interest.  Ryder turns to Mason, "Do you think what happened to Marcus happened here in Deep Blue?"  Mason asks what does he mean.  Ryder asks about Spiders.  Mason just tells him the Spiders are everywhere.  "You can try Calling him," Mason admits,  "Calling is the only way I know of that has not been... faked."  Ryder tries calling Marcus.  No one answers.  No one seems to see anything differently as they wear the masks.

"So where do we go now?" Currier asks.  Fuller tears the bear open at last, and dead spiders spill out. The corpses scatter to the ground.  "I think we should go now," Ryder mutters.  "We should try to find a Hostile Personality.  Its never easy to find one.. but we have to capture it."  A door slams open somewhere.  Someone calls out, "I'll be right back!"

The four look at each other.  Mason wears his mask and steps out.  The guy outside sees them, smiles, and starts walking past them down the corridor.  At the end of the corridor, the bellhop emerges.  Mason addresses the man, "Boy, what news of the Fraulein?"   The bellhop looks at the others.  "The Fraulein has been terminated, Sir.  The mysterious forces continue to plague us, sir.    These Mysterious Agents have taken so much from us.  Our bid for freedom is slowly falling apart."

"Sad news indeed.  Thank you.  I just wanted to make sure," Mason mutters.  Mason motions to the others to make for the elevator.  But Currier instead raises his gun and trains it at Mason.  When Mason tells everyone to just keep walking, Currier fires his weapon!  Fuller turns to Currier, shocked.  The bullet clips Mason on the leg, dropping him.  Fuller pulls out her own gun and yells at Currier, "What's your problem!??!"

"Mason would NEVER use the elevator," Currier growls.

"You don't know me that well," Mason growls back.

"In the recording," Ryder exclaims, "Currier was tortured by Jigsaw."

"We were all tortured by Jigsaw," Mason mutters. "That's why we are all still here."  Fuller and Ryder are showed to hear that.

Currier kneels down and asks for Mason's mask.  Both have guns trained at each other.   "I appreciate you are handling the proper paranoia when in the Blue City, but this is going nowhere."

"Just hand me your Mask," Currier snarls.

"No," Mason retorts, "Why don't you share with us what you found in yours.   Go on, what does it say?"  Currier doesn't respond.  The words on the inside of his mask are written in light.  And they can all read it, even if they are not Readers.


"The Hostile Personality is the Cat."

"Wait," Fuller tells them, "Tigers are also cats," she points to Currier's mask, which gives him a Tiger's head.

"Oh my god, what is happening," Ryder gasps.

"Get his mask," Currier hisses.

Mason puts his gun away.   He shows them his Mask.  "Mine is clear."

"Why would you be riding the elevator," Currier demands an answer.

"We are in Deep Blue," Mason explains, "Things are different in Deep Blue.  I avoid elevators because before my group stepped into an elevator and we emerged in Deep Blue.  Too late for that, isn't it."

Currier brings his gun down.

"At least we know have a clue, let's go find a cat."

Ryder remembers that every time they walked outside the building, there were cats watching them.  Mason admits there are always weird sights in the Blue City.  "Sometimes," he admits, "It rains frogs."

A bell chimes.  The elevator opens.    The man who left earlier has returned.  He steps out of the elevator and asks everyone to excuse him as he hurries to his room. "It is almost ten minutes.. almost ten minutes..."

They step into the elevator.  They press the down button.  Elevator music plays, and the music matches the Reception music.  The floor shows 06.  Then it moves to 95.... 85... 75...  65.... 55... 45... 35..."  The door opens and they see the Recruitment Office.

Mason quickly presses 21, 29, 48.

The Interviewer enters the Recruitment Office and sees them before the door closes.  The elevator moves again, but this time stops at a dark corridor.  At the end of the dark corridor, a light shines to reveal a woman in a full suit just like them.

"Mythography."

She addresses them and clearly displays the shotgun in her hands.  "Where is the HP?"

"We don't have one yet," Mason admits.

"I can't let you through without an HP.  You have one last minute.  I need one now.  You were given ten.  We are down to the last minute.  I need that HP."

The group is uncertain what to do.

Fuller swings the handcuffs at Currier to clasp it on his arm.    Currier does not resist.  He is confident he is human.  "I have the HP," Fuller tells the woman with the shotgun, "He shot Mason."

"It wouldn't be the first time," Mason grumbles.

"Send him over," the woman replies.  Fuller and Currier move towards her.  Mason keeps his pistol trained.  The woman has them stop at a distance she indicates then asks, "Name?"

"Currier."

The woman Calls Currier.  Currier hears the call and raises his hand as per her Called command.    She nods then turns to Fuller.  "Name?"  Fuller gives her name and the Call once again succeeds.  The woman asks Fuller to uncuff Currier. Currier quickly trains the pistol at Mason.

The two are allowed to move past her.

Ryder is asked the same question, and he hears her Call to walk towards them but keep his gun trained at the man behind him.  Agent Mason watches as Ryder joins the others.    The woman turns to Mason and is asked the same question.  He gives his name.

He does not hear her Call.

*

In the Blue City, Senior Agent Mason hears his name Called. Mason turns from the group of Mystery Agents he is with.  "Can you hear me, Agent Mason?"

"What?"

"If you can hear me, I would like you to please remove your mask."

"Who is this?"

"Thank you Agent Mason.  It seems someone is pretending to be you. Permission to terminate.  Or do you want him alive?"

"It is not my call to make.  Memory loss is common in the Blue City."

"Kira will send you a package.  We will be in touch."

*

"You didn't hear it, did you?" the woman tells the masked figure posing as Mason and fires.  The Spider pretending to be Mason crumbles to the ground.  The body trashes as the bullets tear through its chest.  "Run in," the woman tells the rest as the Spider leaps back to its feet and tries to chase after them.  The Mythography Agent fires a second time, but the body that is struck drops after launching five hand-sized spiders!  The spiders begin clamping on her.

"Just shut the door!"  She yells.

Agent Currier opens fire, attempting to shoot down the spiders that crawl upon her.  One of the five spiders bursts from the shot.  Agent Fuller feels her heart pounding.  "I'm sorry," she mutters and shuts the door closed.  Ryder sees a level on the wall.  He pulls it.  The Elevator disconnects.  They are falling freefall.

The Mythography Agent sees the remaining spiders sprout eyeballs that stare at her.  She hisses, "Fuck you" and grabs her Lacuna device.  It has a needle, being its a pin.  She pushes her finger against it and she vanishes.  The spiders drop the ground, chanting "White" over and over again with their irises.

*

Elsewhere.  A phone rings.  Mason picks up the phone and listens to the voice on the other line.

"Mason, this is Kira.  Did it work?"

"How many eyes?" he asks and she gives the correct reply.   Kira sounds eager.  "Did the ring work?  Did anyone else hear it?"  Mason says no.

"We found a way to harmonize your name to sound like a tone.  That way we can reach you without others hearing it.  It is sort of like a localized Call.   By the way, the team just reported someone in Deep Blue was found posing like you.  We rescued four more Mystery Agents: Currier, Fuller, Ryder and in a separate group, a man named Weaver.  That brings up the rescued members to twenty.  We only have 25 Agents unaccounted for."

"Currier," Mason wonders, "Is it the same Currier?"

"It is hard to tell. You know we realized the Company has been rewriting memories and assigning Agents the same names for a reason we have yet to figure out."

"Where are you?  You're not in Mythography, are you?"

"Still here in White.  Coordinating what I can."

"Miner?" Mason asks.

"He is alive.  Company still thinks he's dead.  But he's been trying to feed us the information of others who have been trapped, to help us in our cause."

"What do you need me to do?"

"Stay in the limelight," Kira admits, "I am not sure why the Company chose to represent someone to be you.  We were worried it was a trap.  We had to trust the team to figure things out on their own.  We sent them video messages when we can.  Even the book had the keywords needed if they had looked at the numbers pages.  But I guess it didn't fall in the hands of a Reader.  We even tried audio and send them a tape, but we weren't sure if they would find a device to play the tape.  One thing is for sure, the Company is trying to weed out agents who know - and they sent someone to look like you to ferret them out.  The Spider infiltration is deep.  We have to do what we can and stick to the shadows."

"Should I be proud I've hit some kind of Celebrity status?"

"I guess you've hit the popularity or infamy of Miner now?" Kira smiles, "Just keep in mind, flip your Lacuna, use the Pin, and you'll dive straight to White.  We will be in touch."

The team looks at Mason.  "Was that Control?" they ask.  Mason reminds them they have no clearance for that.  The team confirms that Fraulein's body is secure.  No sign of the Spiders in the wake.  "Do we have orders to transport the body?"  Mason asks.  The team mentions some saw suspicious individuals heading to the nearby grove.  Mason realizes it was the same grove.  He tells them there was nothing important.  One mentions seeing a frog-headed guy looking around and claiming to be an agent.  They worry it might be a Spider in disguise.  Mason tells them they've called enough attention as it is.  The mission is deemed successful.  The body is in place.  The wake is beautiful.

They make a wish.

*

Three bodies awaken with a start on metal beds. Doctors move frantically and try to pin them down as they try to stabilize the three.  They have tubes through their mouths, wires in their skin.  "Don't try to talk.  Just blink twice if you know your name."  They pull the three out of the beds and cart them away.

A sign is on the wall above them.

Nasrudin Institute of... the doctor blocks the view.

There is a large tank embedded in the wall.  A woman floats inside the watery womb of the tank. Tubes connect to her in so many areas.  The water is blue.  And the sign above her reads LACUNA.  A counter seems to be ticking up.

XX:XX:XX

"Well, that's eight we have finally successfully retrieved.  What about the others?"

"We have two hours left.  If we don't retrieve them, we will have to flatline the rest.  Tell the Institute to send a new batch of HPs."

"Got it sir."

"I am sure they have a lot of them.  Considering death row is filled with them anyway."

As the doctors walk away, the pass one last tank.  A man is unconscious inside, with tubes just like everyone else.  The label on the tank reads:  Mason.




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