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SECURITY CLASSIFICATION: RELEASED TO PUBLIC | DATE OF REVIEW: 06.04.2098 |
AUTHORITY: WIPO | AUTHOR: R SHEPHERD |
DOCUMENT STATUS: FINAL VERSION | VERSION: 1.0 |

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home is nowhere, therefore you,
a kind of dwell and welcome, song after all,
and free of any eden we can name

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SECURITY CLASSIFICATION: NOT RELEASED TO PUBLIC| DATE OF REVIEW: 06.04.2098 |
AUTHORITY: NETWORK CLOSECASTING | AUTHOR: NETWORK CLOSECASTING |
DOCUMENT STATUS: FINAL VERSION | VERSION: 1.0 |

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They've been in the lounge in DICE clan hall eating leftovers that they scrounged from the fridge. It's a quiet afternoon and a big hall. None of their clanmates have happened through on their way to the kitchen yet, but it's only a matter of time before someone comes upon them.

"S'fuckin' delicious." Dex contemplates her potato salad like it's her first ever. "But we should go to Elias' -- get our stitches looked at, and check on Guy." She sighs when Z only makes a non-committal noise of agreement.

"Check on El-Elias, too," Ebenezer agrees, after a moment. He stretches to put his plate on the coffee table. "M'done eating."

Zolotisty continues quietly etching furrows into her carrot with one of her good claws.

Dex and Ebenezer both watch Z before they trade looks. "Com'on, Z, can you take us?"

"Mhm." It's like a senior's home the way they all struggle to get out of their chairs.

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SECURITY CLASSIFICATION: NOT RELEASED TO PUBLIC| DATE OF REVIEW: 06.04.2098 |
AUTHORITY: NETWORK CLOSECASTING | AUTHOR: NETWORK CLOSECASTING |
DOCUMENT STATUS: FINAL VERSION | VERSION: 1.0 |

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Zolotisty is the first through the door. She looks more animated than she did in clan hall, but Dex knows her well enough to tell the real energy from the energy that's been pasteboarded on for sake of appearances. "Elias?" she calls up the stairs. Floorboards creak; they can all hear footsteps as Elias leaves his room and comes out into the hallway to peer down at them.

"Mind your volume. I doubt you'll wake him, but just in case, if you please." He comes down to join them, herding them slowly toward the kitchen. "He's been conscious and I've spoken to him some -- he's made it quite clear that he doesn't want visitors. Not for some time. How are you all feeling?"

At first Dex steps towards him, compelled to hug, but his words are all business, so she stays back. "Not even us?"

"He didn't explicitly state that he didn't want to see any of you," Elias says, twisting his mouth wryly, "but he did make it plain that he did not want to be disturbed. I think he would have escaped by now if he had the strength. Come here, love." He opens his arms to Dex, having read the impulse in her body language. Z lingers by Ebenezer, watching as Dex wraps her arms tight around him. "It's been quiet here," he says, petting the back of Dex's head reassuringly while tears trickle down her cheeks.

"Quiet where we are, too," Z says.

Ebenezer scrubs at his nose with the back of his hand. "Is he g-going to-will he die? D'you know yet, Elias?"

Dex steps away, wiping her eyes with her sleeve.

"I think he has a much better chance, now -- but that's just physically." He glances at Z. "One's spirits can kill the body just as easily. I'll feel better about it after we've fitted him for a prosthetic and got him up and running again."

"S'pose you should t-tell him-tell him we were here," Ebenezer mumbles. "Tell him we came by." Elias nods.

"He wanted to die. You three stopped him," Dex says.

Elias shrugs slightly. "It wasn't his only chance -- and I would contend that he was not out to commit suicide deliberately when he set out. He simply didn't care if he happened to be killed as an ancillary result of his actions. If he's truly committed to killing himself, then perhaps he'll try again and be successful -- but I think it would be beneficial to make an effort to see that that impulse does not come out of melancholy for having found his values upended or his left leg amputated below the knee."

Dex leans heavily back onto the kitchen counter. "Didn't mean you shouldn't have saved him. He's lucky.. naw, fuck luck, thank you for fixing my ass, yeh. Well.. his ass," she says, indicating Ebenezer. He scowls. " My.. you know." She lifts her cast and looks apologetic at him before turning to face the stairs. "Guy's going to need help. Can you tell him I will? He can't stay here forever, and he doesn't need to be alone."

"I'll tell him, yes. And Ebenezer, I will tell him that you've all come by to check on him."

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SECURITY CLASSIFICATION: NOT RELEASED TO PUBLIC| DATE OF REVIEW: 06.04.2098 |
AUTHORITY: NETWORK CLOSECASTING | AUTHOR: NETWORK CLOSECASTING |
DOCUMENT STATUS: FINAL VERSION | VERSION: 1.0 |

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With every day that passes, Dex's room looks increasingly like a campsite or well-used squat. Pillows and blankets lie strewn across the floor; they've stacked their used dishes haphazardly where they seem to be most out of the way, and half-empty bottles of water crowd their pain medications. Zolotisty has curled around Fog in one of the heavily pillowed rock outcroppings jutting from the back wall of the room, while Eben and Dex sit at the opposite end of the room. DICE clan hall is built into the side of a cliff, and Dex's room is the only seaside room which is wide open to the air and view of the water below. It's night time, and they both have distressingly gloppy cups of vegetable smoothies in hand. ("Healthy means b-better-better healing," Ebenezer insisted over the roar of the blender.)

Frowning, Dex glances back to Z. "She loves these," she tells Eben, knowing Z will hear too. "I don't know what to do."

"Me either," he answers, picking at the threadbare edge of one of his pillows.

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SECURITY CLASSIFICATION: NOT RELEASED TO PUBLIC| DATE OF REVIEW: 06.04.2098 |
AUTHORITY: NETWORK CLOSECASTING | AUTHOR: NETWORK CLOSECASTING |
DOCUMENT STATUS: FINAL VERSION | VERSION: 1.0 |

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The day they run out of dishes is the same day that they transition fully to a nocturnal schedule in an effort to avoid concerned questions from clanmates. As soon as the last goodnight has been passed in the hallway outside the door, Dex rises from her sentry spot by the door. "You two should talk," she says before she slips out into the hall, heading for the kitchen.

After a lingering silence, Ebenezer murmurs, "Don't know-I don't know what she expects us to-to-to talk about." Zolotisty grunts in response and pushes Fog off of her head as he tries for the sixth time to sink his tiny teeth into her injured ear. It's mostly healed by now -- the tip is crooked, folded sideways to meet torn skin. Fog skitters away, leaping behind his bag of kibble to hide. He waves his haunches for a few moments, goes perfectly still for several more, then charges again. She cuffs him with a snarl, and he bolts again, this time to hide in earnest.

Ebenezer shifts, propping himself up onto his elbow. He watches Zolotisty for a moment before speaking again. "D-don't-I don't expect you to give up your place."

"Doesn't matter."

"M-matters-matters to you," he argues.

"Meant it doesn't matter if you expect me to or not." Tucked into as tight a ball as she can manage, she doesn't look at him.

Another silence passes. "Don't suppose you've p-paid that-that bill they gave you?"

"No."

"M-maybe if we just-if we just paid that off, then it-it--?" He struggles for a moment before giving up on finishing his sentence. "We should-we should pay it."

"Okay."

"I can help."

"Okay."

Frustrated, he lets out a sharp sigh through his nose and rolls onto his stomach. "Okay," he echoes.

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SECURITY CLASSIFICATION: NOT RELEASED TO PUBLIC| DATE OF REVIEW: 06.04.2098 |
AUTHORITY: NETWORK CLOSECASTING | AUTHOR: NETWORK CLOSECASTING |
DOCUMENT STATUS: FINAL VERSION | VERSION: 1.0 |

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"Improb's coming back," Dex whoops, and then barks a laugh at Eben's shocked head of hair. He scowls at her and tries to smooth it down with both hands. "Thanks for being my guinea pig, yeh?"

"Didn't re-r-realize I had a choice," he answers, almost smiling. "You're welcome."

Zolotisty is almost smiling, too. She oonches closer to Dex from where she's been watching the starlight on the waves below the cliff, and bumps her cheek into Dex's shoulder. "Spandex."

"It's long. Want me to cut it?" She waggles her eyebrows menacingly at him while wrapping her arm around Z's waist. "How should we cut it, Z?" Dex's one to talk -- Elias' surgical haircare has left her looking she's had a run-in with a lawn mower.

"Can we go outside."

Ebenezer lurches a step away from them. "No. D-don't I don't want you to touch it." Dex laughs, getting the reaction she wanted.

Zolotisty headbutts Dex's shoulder gently, focused. "Outsiiiide," she whines. "Please."

She glances down to Z's foot, and then flattens her lips. "Suppose we could wheel her in a little cart. Maybe if we make a pretty display with fresh veggies from our greenhouses around Z we could make some dosh for that fuckin' bill too, while we're out. I'll be sales, Z'll be the eye-candy, and Eben, you can manage accounts."

He snorts loudly through his nose and tugs his necktie a bit tighter. "R-really, we can't all j-just-just stick together like this for the r-rest-the rest of our lives, you know."

"Yeh, I don't know about you but I need to get--" She stops herself from saying 'laid', remembering that Eben's best chance at sex currently has no clue who he is. "Out."

Zolotisty has become very good at being boneless over the last week. She flomps into Spandex's lap and goes entirely limp, determined to cut off the circulation to Dex's thighs with her dead weight.

"Well, I'm ready to go-to go-to go out," he answers, eyes narrowing slightly in suspicion of her pause.

Dex tries to hoist Z a bit higher off her thigh muscles. "I'm one-handed and Z's one-legged, so can we .. uhh.. can we go with you, Ebs? You've got your gun, yeh? Mean, it's probably fine." Her chest tightens, but she's been thinking about this for the past few days, and he's right, she can't guard him and Z forever. "How 'bout we nick enough from the bill fund for three juicy hot steaks?"

"S'just go'a the bank."

"C'mon. Let's double-bandage on your foot. Get your gat, Ebsers."

"What-what's a gat?" She responds by pointing at him with her finger and thumb stretched in a gun shape. "Oh, you mean-you mean that gat. Yes. I'll get it."

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SECURITY CLASSIFICATION: NOT RELEASED TO PUBLIC| DATE OF REVIEW: 06.04.2098 |
AUTHORITY: NETWORK CLOSECASTING | AUTHOR: NETWORK CLOSECASTING |
DOCUMENT STATUS: FINAL VERSION | VERSION: 1.0 |

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Later, in bed, after a meal in Kittania: "Don't even want my knives back, but if I know where they are, I know they're not cuttin' anyone."

"Yeh. We'll find'm if they've gone on walkabout."

"Even if that Joker died in there, someone might have taken her body away."

"Mm. Yeh, reckon maybe.. I don't know her sound. I tried to listen for it. Got more of that glasses Joker than the lady."

"Forget his sound, Z."

"He's not up walking though, maybe. I donno, I think if I knew it maybe I'd even forget. I didn't think to listen at all when we were in the pub."

"Me neither."

"Good. Better that way."

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SECURITY CLASSIFICATION: NOT RELEASED TO PUBLIC| DATE OF REVIEW: 06.04.2098 |
AUTHORITY: NETWORK CLOSECASTING | AUTHOR: NETWORK CLOSECASTING |
DOCUMENT STATUS: FINAL VERSION | VERSION: 1.0 |

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If the outer ring was a clock, it'd be stopped at five minutes past one, but Dex doesn't think in clocks or calendars, so she sees it as the wheel it's meant to be, stopped in its tracks. The last ring was left with just the top section, ignorance, finished. From what she's learned, this ring is a circular story of karma, with each segment causing the next. In her interpretation, it's how she remains on the island. She pulls the small earbuds out of her ears, switches off the little tiger radio, and sets it on the ground next to her brushes and pails of paint.

Zolotisty sits quietly while Dex finishes the second section, constructive volitional activity -- a woman with a mohawk choosing her fighting aid implant. More than an hour later, Z's lost her taste for being a reverent member of a one-Joker audience. She rolls about on her back in the dirt, squirming wildly before hauling herself up with aid of Improbable pull-bars. Dex says, "If you split your foot open again, don't come running to me," and snorts at her own joke while she dips her paintbrush again and begins work on the third section, consciousness. In the jungle, the same woman cuts a haunch from a bright green bewilderbeest that she's just skinned.

Limping about, Z circles the building only a sluggardly three times before Dex has finished the fourth section -- name and form. She stops to watch Dex put the finishing touches on an image of an Improbability Drive pouring smoke behind the mohawked woman as she rises from the ground with the green eyes of a Joker. "Do you want food?" Z asks, and Dex makes a reluctant noise that Z's come to know as 'no, but I'll eat.' She goes, and while she's gone, Dex finishes the fifth -- the six senses -- an Outpost with six gates.

They sit together when Z returns with bread and fruit, but Dex is distracted and quiet. She finishes eating and looks at her wife sadly before rising to begin the sixth section, contact -- the mohawked woman throwing a frisbee to another woman with coyote ears and coyote tail.

Z watches for a while more before restlessly moving off again to search for a stick she can use as a cane while Dex paints in the seventh, pain -- the mohawked woman unconscious at the bottom of a set of stairs, bleeding. Seeing it finished when she returns, she thins her lips and settles in again.

Dex consults her diagram and descriptions of the wheel for eighth segment. Thirst, it reads, and she sits on the ground with her back against the wall while she considers it. Her mind goes to Improbability right away, and visions of Z bent over coughing without it follow. She could paint that, since her own need for Improbability's harder to illustrate. It's her emotional reliance on Improbability that makes her unable to leave this island-- that makes her unable to get off this wheel. "It's not craving any more than needing to breathe is," she says to Z, and jams a finger down her cast to scratch.

"What's not -- stop that."

"Thirst. Craving." Dex pulls her hand out to pick the paper off her lap and wave it at her wife. "Should just paint you scratching your belly stitches -- and don't say you don't."

"Thirst's for drinking."

"Yeh." Dex pulls her knees up. "Could do boozin', guess... it's meant to be specific to here though, which is why I thought thirst for Impro--"

"Improbability, yeh, what about -- what's wrong. You've gone out of key."

"Bit," she blurts, as if she waits to tell it the memory will disappear. "I bit that woman in the cabin to get her Improb, 'cuz I was starving. Z? I bit her foot off." She feels ill.

"Spandex."

She can't look up.

"That is what teeths are for, Spandex."

"Oh." Her stomach still roiling, she reads the sheet again. "Should have painted my new teeth in the form one, maybe."

"Did you just remember that, about the lady Joker," Z asks and Dex nods. "Do you remember anything else."

"She fought hard, that's all."

"Mm."

"It's Improbability that ties us here," Dex says after awhile, and stands up again to paint the island floating in a bubble. Resting on the ground, Z draws her good knee to her chest to set her chin on it.

"Sorry," she says eventually. "I could maybe go away with you if I weren't me."

"Just showing how we got here, not how to get off, I think."

"Mm."

The sun's beginning to set. Zolotisty gives her light to work by, conjuring it with an awkward twisting of her half-healed hands. Dex, watches, impressed by a trick she's not seen before, and then sets to illustrate the ninth segment, craving and attachment. It's her, again, turning herself invisible with great flourish. The tenth segment, process of becoming, is the punk woman being clubbed over the head by a suited man in front of an office tower.

In the eleventh, being born, it's a naked human, standing alone in the middle of an outpost. Looking at it, Spandex is pleased that it's deliberately ambiguous whether the woman's nakedness is from having lately been dropped from a transport plane, or from her latest Drive kill. The final segment, old age and death, shows the coyote-eared Joker and the punk-haired one carrying a corpse out of the jungle to bury.

"Almost done," Dex tells Z, and clutching and turning the entire wheel, she adds a giant wrathful skeleton -- impermanence. In the top right corner, above its head, she adds Buddha pointing up to the moon.

It's late. The cloud cover has long since blown off to the east, leaving them beneath the stars. "Now is it done?" Z asks, trying to keep impatience from coloring her words. Dex makes a noise of agreement. Pushing the lids on her paint pails, she stops to clean her brushes. "What's it mean."

Dex hugs her from behind. "That's your present," she says, and kisses her neck.

Zolotisty stares at the painting -- more a mural, really. "The puzzle of it, you mean." She turns around in Dex's arms, taking the paintbrushes from her. "You didn't look at the cameras at all. I was watching."

"Yep. I'm tired. Let's sleep in Yaksi tonight."

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SECURITY CLASSIFICATION: RESTRICTED| DATE OF REVIEW: 05 04 2098 |
AUTHORITY: NETWORK | AUTHOR: NETWORK COMPLIANCE COMMISSION |
DOCUMENT STATUS: FINAL VERSION | VERSION: 1.0 |

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to: hogilvy@p3.prd.network.cc, maxelsson@p3.prd.network.cc, msimpert@s3.network.cc, acooper@s3.network.cc, tbabcock@s3.network.cc, mmonroe@s1.cop.network.cc, tgannet@ret.cop.network.cc , clacey@s1.cop.network.cc
bcc: sgodard@secop.network.cc, jmarsden@f3.fin.network.cc
from: akobayashi@hr.network.cc
subject: Location (number) Investigation


After lengthy discussion following your interviews, we are announcing the following changes in staffing, effective immediately:

Hisoka Ogilvy is to promoted as Senior Producer, Network News.
Theresa Babcock will be promoted to Hisoka's role as Producer for Contestant Spandex, and will be given the additional responsibility of Moderator Zolotisty. In this role she will manage Amnat Cooper, who will remain a third level camera operator for Spandex, and will be given the additional responsibility of Zolotisty.
Michael Monroe will be offered a permanent position as first level camera operator for Moderator Ebenezer.
Catherine Lacey will be remain in her position as first level camera operator for Contestant Guido Haccadine.

We thank Thabiti Gannet for his service during his post-retirement contractual period.

Both Madeline Axelsson and Matthew Simpert's contracts with the Network are to be terminated under the terms of said contracts. Our team wishes them well in their future endeavours.

We will appreciate everyone's support during the transitional period.

Thank you,

Aaron Kobayashi
Senior Director of Human Resources

 
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