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Oct 19, 2018 11:25 PM
and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste
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A Nimire and a Cat in SWL. Also, horrifying alien pregnancy powers.
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"The clueless look and naivety," Geary says coolly. "But this isn't another test. We don't do probation, either you're in or you're out. And at least for now, you're in. The Illuminati is very achievement-oriented that way. Like X-box but hardcore."

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"Spoken like a woman who's never owned an X-box. So, I was told to meet you, I've met you, now what?"

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"Used to, got bored." Geary flicks a hand at the bay window behind her; part of it lights up with a map. "Solomon Island. Little town, preppy school with some connection to us, both kind of disappeared off the coast of Maine. The people aren't a major deal, but our noses need to be totally clean on this one. The military got involved and we don't want the shitheels at the DOD making everything even worse. Give an old man a red button to press, I swear, it's like Viagra to them." She rolls her eyes. "I'm sending you and, uh, Kate, right--?"

The other woman nods but doesn't say anything.

"And Kate out there to assess the impact on our bottom line. Kate's been in the field for a few months now, she'll be mentoring you so we at least break even on what we pay Zurn. Don't make me look bad, or I'll mount your head on the wall as an object lesson to the next fuckup." She's looking at her phone, clearly already mentally working on something else. She turns away and waves over her shoulder. "Ciao ciao."

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"Nice to meet you!" she says to Kate. "I'm Naomi!"

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Kate nods in return, which is more or less all she can manage right now, and hopes she doesn't look standoffish. She tilts her head to indicate the entrance to Geary's office and starts walking that way herself, assuming Naomi can infer what she means.

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Naomi follows. Cheerfully.

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When they reach the bottom of the ramp, Kate almost turns towards the warehouse exit, then catches herself as she remembers: she was going to upgrade her rifle and ring, before Geary grabbed her and told her she was, apparently, going to Maine. She veers to the left and steers them back out in the main room, then towards the Inventory building. A few guards are standing near the bank of computer consoles, but otherwise it's a slow day.

Kate picks "Distillation" from the buttons on the screen, then pokes through the list and selects the accumulated weapons she's earned in the last week or so and won't use.

Are you sure you want to distill these items? This process is irreversible.

Kate taps "Yes" and waits. After a few seconds, the hatch just under the console opens, and Kate fishes out the distillate. It's a flask of golden liquid about the size of a can of beer, made of glass and capped with metal at both ends. She automatically reaches over her shoulder for her rifle, then glances at Naomi and reconsiders. The new girl could probably benefit a lot more from the distillate than she would, and it's not like she won't pick up more practically just by existing. She offers the flask up.

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"Uh. What?" she says, peering dubiously at the flask.

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What in the hell was de la Guardia doing when Naomi showed up, painting his toenails? Ah, fuck, she's gotta talk. She takes a deep breath, so her throat doesn't have to do as much work. "Weapon," she says. "Makes it work better."

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"Okay. Thank you. How?"

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She's going to murder him. Maybe she can get someone else to do it for her and then they can deal with the consequences. She looks back at the computer, realizes she's still holding the flask, hands it off to Naomi so she has both hands free, and fiddles with the console some more until it spits out one of the rings she was going to use for her own.

She twists that ring off, holds each one in a different palm, and concentrates. The anima flows like an affectionate snake through her arms and shoulders, from left to right, as the fodder ring dissolves into nothing. The shard cost is tiny, barely worth noticing. Luckily, making a distillate requires the shards in the first place, so Naomi won't have to worry about that, and Kate can eat the few thousands' loss.

The golden light settles in her ring, and she puts it back on.

"Move it. Like that."

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"...huh. All right."

She retrieves Fireball Friend from her pocket, holds the flask in one hand and the magic disk in the other, and... moves... it...?

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Some instinct she didn't know she had picks it up from there, not dissimilar to the way she knows how to draw the blood magic sigils. Weirdly, she can feel the energy traveling through her, using her body as a conduit to get from one point to the other. Her elementalism focus gleams for a moment, then returns to its default appearance.

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Huh. She puts Fireball Friend back into her pocket.

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Kate nods in approval, then decides messing around with the rest of her gear can wait. If she can plow through a nest of basilisks on her own, she's pretty confident she can handle whatever's on Solomon Island. She beckons Naomi and heads back the way they came, this time taking the other path and trotting up the stairs to the fake warehouse. Or possibly real warehouse; she's never bothered asking.

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...'kay.

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She's aware of how it looks, but she does know where she's going, more or less. She weaves around the stacks of pallets to the other end of the warehouse, turns a corner, and hops down a hole in the ground. It is admittedly more of a slope than a hole, but the distinction is a bit academic when the hole has golden light and bees swirling around it, and roots keeping the resultant tunnel from collapsing.

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Welp. Down the bee hole it is.

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There's a faint pop, like the air pressure changing, and then they are standing on a large wooden platform jutting out from a great tree trunk, some fifty meters across where it connects. Behind them is a large swirling portal, twice as high as they are, showing a view of New York over the water. Other portals are next to it, one showing some kind of old English architecture, another narrow alleyways.

Other people are milling around the platform, some entering the portals and some leaving. Near the middle edge of it all is a man dressed like a stereotypical train conductor, with two giant humanoid automatons flanking him. Kate heads straight towards them, ignoring the other people.

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Naomi traipses along after her.

(Where is she—? Not in range of any part of her network. It's an unsettling feeling. Clearly she needs to figure out how to smuggle eggs everywhere she goes.)

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"Hello there!" the train conductor says cheerfully. "Welcome to Agartha, the Hollow Earth. I do hope you're not here for the local service, by my watch it's--" and here he pulls out an honest-to-god pocketwatch and checks it "--a hundred years late on the hour."

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She snorts.

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"Right then," he says. "You'll be needing one of these. Haven't figure out how to make more, but luckily there's still enough around to hand out like sweets." He gestures, and one of the automatons holds out a closed fist and drops something the size of a softball down to Naomi.

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She catches it.

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It's a brass and glowing blue ball. Presumably it does something.

"Activate that, and you'll be able to return to Agartha in a metaphorical - and literal! - flash. Just press the bit on the top, there. Now then, within Agartha time and space work differently. You can cross the globe at a brisk trot if you like! If you need directions, you can ask one of the Custodians. The main hub is that way, if you'll just step onto this platform here." He indicates a circular spot nearby, honeycombed into the floor.

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