Enquirer Home Page | Twitter | Back to Improbable Island



Nine in the third place means: Keeping his hips still. Making his sacrum stiff. Dangerous. The heart suffocates.



to: tbabcock@s2.cop.network.cc, sgodard@secop.network.cc
from: ogilvy@p3.prd.network.cc
subj: Request for Temporary Relocation


As I'm sure you are aware, Ebenezer has begun to appear increasingly frequently in scenes featuring Spandex and Zolotisty. To that end, and with some plot-lines in place for the latter two, I welcome you to join the large editing/production suite I've booked for the next month.

Warm regards,

H Ogilvy


to: clacey@s1.cop.network.cc, tmarshall@secop.network.cc
from: ogilvy@p3.prd.network.cc
subj: Request for Temporary Relocation


As I'm sure you are aware, Haccadine has begun to appear increasingly frequently in scenes featuring Spandex and Zolotisty. To that end, and with some plot-lines in place for the latter two, I welcome you to join the large editing/production suite I've booked for the next month. Please bring your things to room C-6790 on Wednesday at 2pm for debriefing.

Warm regards,

H Ogilvy



Dex holds completely still until the intruders' footsteps have faded off through the underbrush. She counts to one hundred, doubles the count, trebles it, and is about to give up belief that Z's with her, when she's suddenly deposited in their tunnel. She takes a breath and yearns for her girl on the off-chance that it might help before she returns visible. Z reappears with her, dark-eyed, and tears her hand away to roll her shoulders.

Dex gives great sigh of relief even while her heart's still thudding in her throat. "Worked. What you hear that guy doin' in your plane, I couldn't see inside. N'who was that woman?"

"Broke things," Z says carefully.

"Yeh, saw him pouring out our booze. Twist, com'ere." She holds out her hand, wanting to feel Z solid and warm. "Could you hear if he was ragin' or revenge or..?"

"No, it was with intents. He went careful."

"Lookin' for something, then. Or carefully making you pissed, maybe."

"That's threats, Spandex. I heard cuts. Donno looking so much as giving us a thing to find and feel unsafe about."

"Alright. Let's make a plan and we'll show 'im what feeling unsafe is really like, yeh. Tell me about that woman."

Zolotisty finally takes Dex's hand. She bumps close enough to line up their hips and breasts, trying to keep her voice measured. "Donno. Looked familiar, maybe, but some days everyone looks familiar cos of the goggles."

"Yeh, both of 'em, I'm sure I've seen them around. Old-timers, like." She circles the small of Z's back with her free hand.

"May be more of them. What we do about Haccadine."

"He should probably lay low in Halls 'til we sort this, yeh? Twist, I'd like to find out what exactly they want from us. What you have in mind?"

"I want to, too, Spandex." She rubs her face against Dex's shoulder, breathing out hard for a beat, two, before, "I still feel sick. We'll find them before they find us. Just--" Dex wraps her tight before suddenly letting her loose, afraid of crushing her lungs.

"Sorrysorry, want to lie down?"

"Yes. No. Fuck." But Dex leads her to the bed and she doesn't fight it. "Spandex, what's east. Of my trees, what's east."

Dex fusses, plumping pillows and loosening Z's jacket and shirt. "East? Uhh.. that temple place.." She imagines Idris somehow managing to destroy the ancient engravings and workings in the winding, and it takes all her focus on Z to not just disappear and try to stop him herself. "Z?" she whispers, sitting on the edge of the bed next to her.


"Listen to me close." Z's jaw tightens. "I show up invisible, knife already in my hand. Come visible with it at one of their throats and ask what the hell's going on." She takes Z's hand. "It's a good plan and you know it."

Zolotisty is silent and her stare is hard.

"I'll wait. Sorry." Dex lets go of her hand to crawl over and lay on her back beside her, staring at the strange curves Z's made of the tunnel ceiling. Her anger turns on Z until she reminds herself she'd do the same.

Z sits up to lean over her lap and Dex reaches to rub one of her ears. "We should tell Haccadine."

"Yeh, I'll go, you rest." She sounds like a petulant teenager.

"You should be, too. Resting."

"Doesn't affect me as much as you." Dex shuffles up to sitting, and cups one of her hands to the side of Z's face.



Ebenezer comes in the halls through the main door, onto the landing. He gets a few steps in before flinching to a stop, eyes stuck on Haccadine and the goggles in his hands. "Where did you-did you get those?"

Haccadine lowers the goggles from his face, taking just a little longer to refocus on Eben than is comfortable. His expression darkens. "Z gave 'em me." He shifts, pushing himself further up into a proper sitting position, one hand sliding closer to his pocket.



"Want to come. I don't think I can move us though." She is, briefly, grateful that Dex wasn't able to hear her rasping in the copse.

"Z, I have to use your Improb to move us both. I'll just go tell him we'll be a bit longer and we're fine and I'll come right back."

"Don't want you to leave."

She'd never let Z go without her either, not to halls or not to deal with their new enemies. But despite knowing the stupidity of not bringing back-up and knowing that Z's abilities outweigh her own, her frustration is manifesting in a twitchy impatience. "Alright, lemme try this shit." She lies back down and pulls Z on top. "Hold tight, 'specially round my chest," she says, looking over her shoulder to the skylight and imagining the tunnel closing in on them. Dangerous. The heart suffocates.



Posture tensing, Ebenezer jerks a step and a half backwards."Why." After a short pause, "And are you-are you drunk?"

"Fuck off," Haccadine snaps. "I got shot. Somebody hadda tranq rifle."

"What! Who?"

"Not a fuckin' clue."


They land crammed against one of the rocky walls in Dex's room in clan hall. The steady spray of the waterfall damps the floor around them and patterns their clothes. Z raises her head, bewildered and a little flattered by the choice. She made this place for Dex, afterall. "Squashed my fingers," she tells her. "But good." It's the first time she can remember that Dex has brought them anywhere on her own without needing that rush of panic, all sounding out like strings and the flash of birds from their roosts.

She turns her head and almost brains herself against an outcropping, then stifles her mouth against Dex's shoulder as she pricks her ears. "Eben's found Haccadine," she says through a cough, then extracts her smarting fingers from beneath her girl. She rolls off.

Dex pushes herself up, winded and wincing. "Christ. Last thing we need. I'd rather he not know shit 'bout whatever s'going on, but if you want'a warn clan, I understand." She grabs her girl's elbow and turns her towards herself as they stand to start the short climb up to the bedroom's landing. "Z?"

"I love you. What."

It's exactly what she was going to say, but smiling now, she realises it was exactly what she needed to hear. "You're good."

"Don't yell," Z says, and kisses her gently.

She looks puzzled, even after Z's pulled away to climb up toward the door out into the corridor. "Best wife," Dex finally yells up to her, adding a two-fingered yeh you heard me, fuck you to the camera watching.



"What'd you-what'd you do? Where's--?" He points to Zolotisty's goggles.

"Somebody tried to get the drop on Z an' Dex an' me up near AceHigh. Then they disappeared off somewhere. Gave me these before." He shakes the goggles at Ebenezer, sharp.

"And-and I suppose you've g-got no idea why an-anyone'd have motive to shoot you. And no idea why Zol-olotisty and Dex've gone and where and why she's left--" He points again to the goggles and sneers. "How v-very-very confusing for you all-all this must be."

Haccadine stares at him for a moment or two before blinking, slow. "Tha's about it. So unless you know what's goin' on, you can piss off. Assumin' you're not just here to finish the job."

Ebenezer scowls down at him. "G-give me them." He thrusts out a hand for the goggles.

"No." His fingers grip the goggles, white-knuckled. "I ain't givin' them to anyone but Z." The other hand slides into the folds of his jacket. He holds Ebenezer's gaze, expression as blank as he can force it.

Ebenezer pulls his hand back at once. "She n-never ought've given them to you in the f-first-the first place," he says.

"Yeh? Well, she did. Guess she trusted me. You, I trust 'bout as far as I could throw you. You're not gettin' em."

"J-just wait here and m-make sure she comes b-back to fetch them, then, shall I?"

"You do that."

He murmurs, "I'll f-find out what's happening, you know. I will."

"When you do," Z calls ragged from the mouth of the bedroom wings, "maybe you can tell me." She pads along the little walk that connects the landing to the eastern corridor, looking between them. "Are you still sicks, Haccadine." Z looks back once as Dex lags behinds and leaves herself leaning on a peripheral wall, frowns, then continues toward the boys.

"M'fine," Haccadine replies, both hands quite suddenly accounted for. "Still seein' weird shit when I close my eyes, but other'n that fine."

"Wh-where've you two been?" Ebenezer would like to know.

"Went to look for the people who rolled us," Z says after a moment and stops next to them.

"Who?" Eben asks again. Zolotisty's answer might be different than Haccadine's.

"Jokers," Z shrugs. "Reckon anyway. Couldn't find them." She glances over her shoulder, swipes her tongue across her fangs, then looks back. "Did you see them, Haccadine?"

"Can I search for 'em in your goggles, Z?" Dex says, pushing herself off the wall to join the group. Haccadine gives Eben a pointed glance as he hands them over.

"I found 'em," he says, gruff. "Wanker with the glasses was hangin' around with some bald chick. Tough-lookin'. Mighta been our sniper."

Ebenezer sucks in an alarmed breath.

"Where, Guy?" Dex is already tugging at the goggle dial, twisting it back and forth.

"Wrecked plane in some trees. Lost 'em when they left, but I got a good look at 'em first."

"Damn. Awfuck, I don't.. how do you.. Z?" She gives up and thrusts the goggles towards Z. "You do it. Hate these.. sorry." She squints at Ebenezer briefly.

"M'not searching for you, you wanted to look. Here." She takes them, showing Dex how to work the dial. Setting a channel is like setting the time on a watch. Rotating the dial cycles through general camera zones on the map and in Outposts, while pulling it out allows you to cycle through cameras within a particular zone. Z looks toward Ebenezer. "We weren't very far from AceHigh. Not doin' anythings. Sittin'."

After a long, cringing consideration, Ebenezer mumbles, "M-might know their names." No one seems to hear him, though Dex's fingers fumble slightly on the dial of Z's goggles.

"Oh aye? What'd he say when he was talkin'a us." Z pauses to think, drawing a deep breath. "Id sommat."

"Idris," Haccadine cuts in. He's spent as much of the last two hours as he's been lucid for memorising details, fixing them in his head. The name comes back easily.

"S-suppose you don't need me, then."

"No one there," Dex says, lowering the goggles. She reaches out to hand them to Z, but changes her mind, and starts searching for the Jokers in Z's other places.

"Don't need you?" Z asks, gazing at him and the pocket where she knows he keeps his monocle.

He frowns back at her. "Oth-other one's Edith-something."

"What. How -- Eben, why didn't you.." She barks a cough.

The broken strap ends smack her leg as Dex suddenly pulls the goggles down from her face. "Can't find 'em," she whispers, staring at Ebenezer.

"Why d-didn't I what? What'm I supposed to do? I'd like-I'd like to know."

"You lying little bastard," Haccadine snarls, struggling to push himself up to stand. "You acted like you didn't have a fuckin' clue--"

"Wait, Haccadine," Z says, gazing hard at Ebenezer. "What were you supposed to do? How much did you know. Did you see us almost die? Did you see Haccadine get shot? What were you supposed to do? You're clan, and if not that, you're a moderator, Ebenezer -- what were you supposed to do?"

"Eben," Dex says with strained politeness, "It's okay, everyone's upset. We had a close call and it'd be really helpful if you tell us everything."

He takes another step backwards, shoulders squared. Strategically ignoring Haccadine, he answers Z first, defensive, "Did-didn't see anyone almost die. Didn't know an-anyone almost died." His attention turns to Dex. "And wh-what'll you tell me?"

"What the fuck, Ebenezer," Z snaps.

"Beg your pardon?" Dex says in a short laugh. She spares a glance across to see if Haccadine's looking as incredulous as she expects she is. Anger, however, seems to be blotting out any surprise -- he looks as though he'd already be laying into Ebenezer, were it not for Z's intervention.

"The two of them-I saw two of them at my Warehouse the day-the day before yesterday." He's looking at Dex and no one else. Scowling at Dex. "Told their names. S-said they were looking for me, then said they were l-looking for you b-bout-about business. Told them I don't know where to find-to find you and they left."

"Good. Okay. S'good. Me? Or all of us? Business? They said what kind of business? And you … nobody mentioned our Loft, not even in passing?"

"You. Said you ch-chatted with them weeks ago about-about a deal." That last question doesn't even deserve an answer, yet, scowling, he repeats his previous response, "T-told them I don't know where to find you."

"Weeks ago?" Dex squints, trying to recall anything, any small thing she might have forgotten. "It's lies," she decides. She looks between Zolotisty and Haccadine, both of them murderous. "There's nobody.. I've not.. I don't even think I've inadvertently pissed anyone off." She's barely been out since Z gave her the tunnel.

Z unscissors her fangs to say, soft, "I've half a mind to take your badge, Ebenezer. And what'll you tell me. Fuck off, mate, thought you were.. I donno what I thought you were. Family, maybe." Beside her, Dex looks away and down until the goggles in her hand catch her attention and she starts the search again.

"If-if you want it, you can take it," he spits out. "I'm only trying to-trying to find out what's--why ev-everyone-every--." Words won't come out right. He snorts and shoves both hands back through his hair.

"So ask and we'll tell you, don't barter it out of us like we're strangers. We don't know. We don't know."

Still nothing, but in the miles of paths through the jungle between where she saw them last and any of Z's places, they could be almost anywhere. "No." Dex lowers the goggles slowly. "He's an honest businessman, aren't you, Ebenezer. It's all trade, isn't it, I mean, all commodities. Gramophones, paintbrushes, a new pair of boots to run in maybe, lives?" She taps her chin. "Reminds me of someone, but.. nevermind, a deal's a deal. What is it, exactly, you want to know?"

He bristles, recoiling back. "Ap-pparently, none-none of my business. It's none of my business whether my clan-my clanmates're getting sh-shot at or breaking thou-thousands of cameras or speaking in code. It's none-it's none of my business."

Z stares. "Why."

The question catches him off-guard. After a wordless noise in the back of his throat, he answers, "Don't know. D-don't know why nobody wants me to know-to know anything."

"No," Dex says, like a teacher softly admonishing a student. "Why do you want to know? Think hard, Eben." She looks past him to Haccadine, his hands clenching and unclenching by his sides. She watches Eben carefully as she switches to cant: "Tuna ut teb ih zial, Guy?" Want to bet he lies. Knowing Z still struggles with a lot of the non-English forms, she scratches behind her ear -- their signal for lying.

"Tish zdo." Shit odds.

Ebenezer looks away, shaking his head to deny what's been said between words. And maybe, too, what's been said in code words. He won't look back at anyone when he answers, "Why-why wouldn't I want to know? P-people're hiding things right in front of me. People're c-coming to me to try and-try and find out where you are. P-people're coming in-into the Hall to fix cameras and hand-hand out bills."

It's impatience that keeps her from her usual pitying forgiveness of Ebenezer. "Oh for fuck's sake, just techs in the hall. You're talkin' shit, Eben. Now hurry up and ask the question I owe ya or forfeit it, 'cuz we're a bit busy, you understand." She waves the goggles at him.

Zolotisty shifts her weight. She's not looked away from Ebenezer. He's not looked up. "For-forfeit, then. I'm busy too." He turns sharply to head for the staircase.

"Ebenezer," Z says, cutting in her calm.

He stops.


Slow, he turns himself around, jaw and shoulders tight. He's looking up now, looking right at Zolotisty as he steps closer. She takes a deep breath, studying him closely. "Not taking your badge. N'you're still family. You're just fuckin' spineless family, sometimes, feels like."

"I suggest you stop sulkin' and try'n fix this shit, Eben," Dex says wearily, peering looking through the goggles and fussing with the dial. "Or you'll have Guy on your ass later. Again."

"What's the forfeit?" Haccadine murmurs, knuckles cracking.

"M'sorry, then," Eben answers. Because it doesn't sound sincere enough, he adds, "Don't want an-anyone almost dying."

"Me, neither." Z glances over her shoulder at Haccadine, then watches Spandex steadily until she lowers the goggles. Neither of them notice Ebenezer flinch as she says, "Dush skenalp." Should explain.

Dex shakes her head, once, and as Z looks away, she says, "Dangerous." It's a good enough reason and warning, she figures, to warrant saying uncoded in front of everyone. Z doesn't reply, though she figures it's hard to get much more dangerous than rifles and Improbability voids.

"Eeuh skenalp tsruf," comes Haccadine's reply, terse. He explains first.

Pinching at the bridge of his nose, Ebenezer mutters, "If that-th-that's all, I think I'll go."

"No," snaps Haccadine. As he takes a step towards Ebenezer, one hand bunching a fistful of his shirt, Dex grabs hold of Z's hand. "Fuck your silly little games. I just got drugged and shot at in the street; whoever was pointin' the gun, they aren't messing around, and you're here titting about playin' at barter? You know something, you tell us, or I swear to god I'll have you."

Ebenezer gives a flinch of alarm, whole body tensing. He shows his hands, but meets Haccadine's gaze, stubborn. "I al-already told you," he says. Without looking away from the man, he answers Dex, "About-about trust, isn't it? It is. All v-very-very clear who trusts who, isn't it?"

"So far you've lied, snuck about eavesdroppin', hurt Dex, squealed for help like a rat on fire to avoid givin' answers and then lied a whole fuckin' load more. Not a great basis for a trustin' relationship, is it?" Haccadine's grip on his shirt tightens, knuckles whitening. "Fact is, you stink like secrets. Great big ugly ones, ones you're worried enough about to get this far into shit with your friends for. Says to me it's something dangerous."

Zolotisty hasn't moved. She watches uncertainly, then looks sideways as Dex squeezes her hand and lets it go. "Hold on. Hold on here," Dex says, but doesn't move to separate the two men. "It's us against them, yeh? Not us against each other. Eben? Guy? Isn't it? What you two not sayin'?"

"I'm not the on-only one lying and sneaking and k-keeping secrets," he spits out. "Let me go."

"Who else, then?" Haccadine asks, quiet and low. He shoots a glance behind him at Z and Dex.

"Yeh," Z says, weary. "Who."

"Ev-everyone. Everyone. Let me go." Despite his trembling, his tone's more demanding than pleading.

"He's right," Dex says, opening her eyes. "I'll start. But if either of you ..gentlemen.. hedge, I'll let you tear each other apart. We have a deal?"

Haccadine's eyes slide back to Ebenezer. "I'm in."

A miserable groan emits from the back of Eben's throat. He sucks in a breath through his nose and reluctantly nods his acceptance to the proposition.

"Don't let 'im go 'til we're done," Dex says with a wry grin. She looks at Z before taking a breath, following her girl's gaze to one of the cameras watching them.

"Dex's room, maybe," Z says before Dex can continue. "Did we leave the vodkas there?"

"Yeh. Good idea."

Z coughs and nods. "Go ahead, I'll get glasses."

Haccadine jerks his head and begins to walk, frogmarching Ebenezer toward the corridor.



Terry Babcock's too-red lips are pressed thin as she zooms in for a delicious close-up view of the group filing past camera CH2-LAN18.

"You've made me wait too long, my lad." Her tone's quiet with warning. "Don't you dare do anything to mess this moment up for us."

Logged in as: Guest (Guest)
the_tiresias_reels_33.txt · Last modified: 2017/05/28 03:35 (external edit)