Behind the Scenes of "Reeling in the Crocosquid"

rating: +11+x

SEPTEMBER 10TH, 2018:

The fact that SCP-3774-2432 had been brought back to life at all was a miracle, considering the methods by which she was operated on. The fact that she kept her memories made Researcher Omage astounded even beyond that. What was really the cherry on top was the fact that, even after everything, she was cooperative. She seemed more afraid than she was rebellious, which only served to make her posthumous interview go all the more smoothly.

"I'm going to be frank with you," Researcher Omage said, folding his hands together and leaning forward on the table, "If your biggest concern is being able to see your children, to tell Merle goodbye, I can't let you do that. At least, not right away."

"Not right away still means it's possible, though, right?" Leslie said, her head drooping slightly.

"As a matter of fact, it does," Researcher Omage reassured.

Leslie perked back up, her wings flicking subtly in anticipation.

"What can I do? Is there anything that I can do to help so I can at least see them?" Leslie asked.

"We just need to run a few diagnostic checks on you, but if all of that clears up…" Researcher Omage shrugged. "The folks upstairs apparently want you back as an Agent."

Leslie was surprised, to say the least. "B-but I broke my directive! I strictly went against the protocol I was assigned to, and I didn't even track the right person! The Foundation… still wants me?"

Researcher Omage shrugged again, "It seems that way."

Leslie sat in stunned silence. She was braced for yet another punishment, some kind of experimentation, or even just being put back to death in cold storage. Not only was the Foundation not mad at her, they would allow her to see her children eventually, and she was even given the opportunity to live her life, albeit still working as an Agent for the Foundation. This almost felt too good to be true.

"I'll take it from your silence that you need to think about it." Researcher Omage quirked an eyebrow.

"N-no! No, I absolutely accept!" Leslie stated. "Th-this is far too generous, really. Honestly, I expected the worst, but who am I to object to an opportunity like this?"

"Good, good," Researcher Omage said, standing up. "Then, if you follow me, we can get started on making sure you're hooked back up to our system so you can send reports remotely. Just follow me, alright?"

Researcher Omage walked towards the door of the interrogation room, opening it. He stood back, gesturing with his hand for Leslie to exit with him. Leslie took a moment in excited anticipation of her future, and followed.


OCTOBER 12TH, 2022

3774-2432: In position, watching.

OPERATOR: Good. This is the boldest that Director Collins has gotten as far as trying to circumvent Foundation orders. Negotiations with King Delbáeth II were neither requested nor authorized.

3774-2432: Understood. I'll try to stay as close as I can to pick up details, opening mic now.

Leslie positioned herself within the lavish throne room above the King's seat, which fortunately had Director Collins near it in order to speak personally with him. Leslie's latest mission was to monitor her for further signs of dissent and radicalism, allowing the Foundation to build a strong enough case to outright oust her from her position as Director. For a job this dangerous, she would normally be too worried about screwing things up to even accept it, but for a chance to see Merle and her kids again, she'd do as many jobs as the Foundation requested. Just for a chance.

Leslie crept closer and closer, making certain that she could be as far away as possible while still getting clear audio. While she was certainly hard to see, there was no sense in throwing everything away by appearing inconspicuous.

Then Leslie heard the door to the throne room open.

3774-2432: Wait, someone else is coming in.

OPERATOR: Can you get a visual?

3774-2432: Sure, just a moment.

Leslie turned just slightly enough from her hiding spot to see a man approaching, somewhat tired, somewhat damp. His expression shifted from exhaustion to despair upon making eye contact with Director Collins.

3774-2432: I don't recognize him, but he seems to know Collins.

OPERATOR: Running facial recognition now; stand by.

OPERATOR: August Jorel, Site-72 Botanist. Level-2 Clearance. Went missing in February of this year after leaving behind a document on SCP-7256.

3774-2432: Any ideas on why he's here?

OPERATOR: Everybody's looking for something these days; power, money, or maybe just an escape.

3774-2432: Permission to approach?

OPERATOR: If you could, that might clear things up. Proceed with caution.

Leslie would have flown, but she didn't want to take the chance of the buzzing being noticed. Fortunately, the walk around the walls of the throne room wasn't far to pick up August's voice. Not long after August started talking, Director Collins simply got up and left, leaving just August and the King to speak in private.

3774-2432: He's an escapee, it seems.

OPERATOR: A defector, you mean.

3774-2432: You said he's just a low-level researcher, right? He couldn't be trying to betray the Foundation; what information would he have to give up?

OPERATOR: I suppose that may be revealed in time.

3774-2432: I know my primary mission is to track Director Collins, but would it be beneficial to spend some time tracking August as well?

OPERATOR: If it wouldn't spread you too thin; it'd be good to get a better sense of everything that's happening. If it turns out August is trying to sell secrets to the Tuaths, we send in a team to get him back.

3774-2432: Director Collins is still the priority, right?

OPERATOR: Of course. Feel free to gather intel on August here and there, but focus on the mission you're there for first and foremost. Maybe we can get the drop on the both of them once we have a more secure case.

3774-2432: Understood.

After the King had motioned for August to be on his way, Leslie turned off her mic and flew after him. She was curious about this newcomer; she had, after all, defected from the Foundation in her first life. Perhaps August was looking for a similar freedom?

No, no. Leslie shook away those thoughts. She was here to do a job; she was here for Merle and her kids. It didn't matter what some stranger wanted. He could even be as sinister as the Foundation suspects. She'll have time to ponder this man's motives later, but for now she just needs to focus.


MARCH 9TH, 2023

3774-2432: Operator? Leslie reporting.

OPERATOR: What is it?

3774-2432: I know that I was tasked with focusing on Director Collins, but… something seems odd about August.

OPERATOR: The defector?

3774-2432: Well, you said he was a botanist before, right?

OPERATOR: Yes, does that have anything to do with anything?

3774-2432: I'm unsure. The Crocosquid isn't a plant of any kind, is it?

OPERATOR: No, not at all.

3774-2432: Is there any particular reason that August would know so much about the Crocosquid then?

OPERATOR: A lot of information about the Crocosquid is publicly available to any Level-2 or above Researchers. Is he displaying knowledge beyond the basics?

3774-2432: I don't know… but he seems… intimate with it.

Leslie was once again perched in a hiding spot, watching August conduct an interview with a survivor from the initial Crocosquid attack. He looked much more… lively than he did when he first came here. No longer the drowned rat of a man that washed up on this island, but someone with a newly renewed vigor, almost like an entirely new sense of purpose.

She could almost recognize a spark of sorts inside of him. He wasn't doing this because he was a researcher… there was something more. Something Leslie was very familiar with.

OPERATOR: That's not a lot for me to work with.

3774-2432: I know it's not, but… I-I just figured it'd be something worth pointing out.

OPERATOR: In a sense, any information is good information. Keep your head up and your ears open. Ideally, the Foundation should have a strong enough case to outright remove Director Collins within the next few months.

3774-2432: U-understood.

OPERATOR: Is everything understood?

3774-2432: Of course! I was just… distracted. I know Collins is the priority, and that August is just…

OPERATOR: An aside. He'll be someone we pick up along with any other radicals hiding in Hy-Brasil. Ultimately just a footnote.

3774-2432: Right. Again, sorry.

OPERATOR: As long as you know that, it's fine. Just remember our deal and get the job done. These jobs are what's letting you get your chance to see Merle.

3774-2432: I know. I know. Thank you.

Leslie's comms channel closed, and she sat in silence. August was not the priority, he wasn't even important. He was just a guy who was interested in a monster. Just…

Whenever Leslie saw August, he was at his happiest talking about the Crocosquid. Not in an obvious way, but… in a way that she's seen before. He started out embarrassed even talking about her, like he was trying to hide his interest in her at all, but as time passed… he gave off a sort of warmth. As if even the description of the Crocosquid was enough to make him comfortable. His body language became more relaxed, and there was almost a sparkle in his eyes whenever the Crocosquid entered the conversation.

There was no denying it, August was in love.


MAY 31ST, 2023

Watching a dream was a surreal experience for Leslie, like watching an abstract painting suddenly and abruptly gain meaning in the same way a train eviscerates a cow wandering on the tracks. And yet, it didn't seem that horrible to watch. Perhaps like the morbid curiosity one gets by watching said cow get turned into red mist.

Fortunately for Leslie, this wasn't a cow at all, but just two figures, floating in an ocean. One was, unmistakably, August Jorel. The other was a bit more difficult to comprehend; it was a massive swirling shape of tentacles, jaws, and light… but she could at the very least associate the words "massive" and "beautiful" with it. Without a doubt, it was the Crocosquid. She wondered if those concepts were coming from the dream Crocosquid's projection or from August's perception of it.

The projector whirred as the dream sequence played, the light faintly illuminating the sparse guests in the room. This was an advanced screening, typically invite only. Leslie hoped that they wouldn't mind if she had a peek as well, though technically she was here to monitor Director Collins, who also happened to be in attendance.

"I CANNOT JUSTIFY MY ACTIONS, NOT IN ANY WAY THAT WOULD FULLY EXONERATE MYSELF," the Dream Crocosquid began, "WHETHER OR NOT THERE WAS MALICE, INTENT, OR EVEN NO MOTIVE AT ALL, IT DOES NOT MATTER TO THE LIVES THAT WERE LOST."

"Do you at least have an explanation? Something that could provide those who survived your encounter firsthand with any kind of…" Dream August paused, his face slightly blurring together in thought, "not necessarily closure, but at least insight?"

"I CAN TRY, AT LEAST," she replied. "IN LIFE, I WAS AN ANIMAL. MORE IMPORTANTLY, I WAS A MOTHER."

"She was a mother?" Leslie quietly said to herself.

This information was news to her; all the information she had access to regarding the Crocosquid put her as the only creature of her kind. Leslie struggled in her mind, thoughts about her own children pushing their way in. The thoughts swirled, clashing with each other. Her desire for her own life mixed with knowing how desperate anyone else would feel in her position.

"Many mothers would do anything for their children," Dream August said.

"MY DESIRE WAS TO FEED, TO HAVE ENOUGH FOOD TO SURVIVE LONG ENOUGH TO LET MY CLUTCH HATCH," the Dream Crocosquid continued, "AND YET THAT STILL DOES NOT GIVE ME THE RIGHT TO HAVE DESTROYED HY-BRASIL AS I DID."

"You had no idea what you were doing," Dream August replied. "No animal does. The fact that you now recognize that what you did was wrong shows that you have empathy, that you've grown beyond your animalistic instincts. Who you are now is not the creature that destroyed Hy-Brasil."

"AS MUCH AS I APPRECIATE YOU TRYING TO HELP ME THROUGH THIS, I'VE COME TO PEACE WITH THE FACT THAT THERE IS NO APOLOGY ALONE THAT CAN FIX MY MISTAKES," the Dream Crocosquid said. "THAT WILL NOT STOP ME FROM GIVING ONE, IF THE VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS WOULD HEAR IT."

"Then the floor is yours," Dream August offered.

The image of the dream shifted; afterimages of ocean and sky blurring together as the Dream Crocosquid became the center of attention, nearly eclipsing Dream August altogether.

"HY-BRASIL, YOU HONOR ME BY ALLOWING ME TO SPEAK TO YOU. I WOULD FULLY UNDERSTAND IF NOT ONE OF YOU RECIPROCATE MY APOLOGY WITH ANY KIND OF FORGIVENESS, BUT I DO NOT SEEK IT. I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT BEYOND ANYTHING, I AM REGRETFUL." the Dream Crocosquid said. "NONE OF YOU DESERVED THE PAIN I HAVE CAUSED AND CONTINUE TO CAUSE THROUGH THESE THREADS OF NIGHTMARES. YOU HAVE MY DEEPEST APOLOGIES."

Dream August gave a sympathetic hand to one of the Dream Crocosquid's arms. He truly was so small in comparison. Leslie looked down at the real August, and it seemed as though he was holding himself back from reaching into the projector as well. He was entranced, hanging on every word.

Leslie knew that look. That desire for connection, that desire to find a way to fill an emptiness inside of him. She-

OPERATOR: Agent, are you there?

Leslie's body tensed up in surprise as the text flashed across her eyes. It was rare for her operator to initiate a conversation unless it was important.

3774-2432: Of course, of course. Just monitoring Collins at the documentary screening.

OPERATOR: Well, good news: you won't have to do it for much longer.


JUNE 1ST, 2023

Leslie couldn't believe she was doing this, but she had to know. Perhaps she couldn't contact the Oneiroi, but she had learned of another fragment of the Crocosquid she could communicate with. She reasoned with herself that this was just further information gathering for her mission, but she knew the reasoning was flimsy. Hell, she didn't even really care at this point; her job was practically done, anyway. All she would need to do is just sit back and let the Foundation do its thing…

And yet…

lesliecaron: Ah, hello? Is this Nessie?
tentacoolmom: This is a surprise. A chat terminal I've never inhabited before.
lesliecaron: It's not exactly a chat terminal, but that's not the point for me contacting you. My name is Leslie, by the way.
tentacoolmom: Then what is the point, Leslie?
lesliecaron: I just… I've been watching someone for… a while now.
lesliecaron: And while I technically shouldn't have been, this person has become very important to me.

A pang of familiarity struck her as she typed those words.

tentacoolmom: You're going to have to be a little more specific than that.
lesliecaron: Do you know who August Jorel is?
tentacoolmom: I know of him.
tentacoolmom: Through a mutual acquaintance.
lesliecaron: What do you know about him?
tentacoolmom: You're being very direct without telling me why I should even answer you.

Leslie paused, preening her wings nervously. She knew she would have to be honest in order to gain any kind of trust, but… Was she really going to do this? Would she risk her own chance at happiness?…

She knew she had to. This was bigger than her. Leslie loved Merle with everything she had, but she refused to ruin someone else's love. She wanted August to have this, to have a chance at a life that Leslie couldn't have.

lesliecaron: I work for the Foundation.
tentacoolmom: You're a Jailer?
lesliecaron: Yes, and I want August to be happy.
lesliecaron: He's caught up in something much bigger than he thinks, and I want him to be given a chance to live his life.
tentacoolmom: And you've come to me instead of talking to him?
lesliecaron: I-I didn't want to risk being seen, or freaking August out.
tentacoolmom: Seems like you're doing most of the freaking out for him.
lesliecaron: I just… I want to know for sure before I commit to all of this; do you truly love August? The part of you that talks to him, I mean.

Leslie hoped beyond anything that she would know, or at least that she could give her a somewhat conclusive answer.

tentacoolmom: I believe she does.
tentacoolmom: That part of me has been alone for so long, and to find someone with that much compassion, that much empathy, it matters to her.
tentacoolmom: At least, that's what I think. I know I'd certainly fall for a man like that.
lesliecaron: That… that means a lot.
tentacoolmom: The question is, now that you know that, what are you going to do with that information?
lesliecaron: I'm going to finally talk to him. He needs to get off the island before the Foundation proper gets here.
tentacoolmom: The Jailers are coming to Hy-Brasil?
lesliecaron: The Director of the site here has been going against their direct orders for a while, and at this point they've gathered enough evidence to get all the green lights to send in a team to pick her and any other dissenters up… thanks to me gathering that information for them.
tentacoolmom: When is it happening? Perhaps I can issue a warning in advance to someone who knows August.
lesliecaron: Tomorrow; the day that the documentary is supposed to premiere. Everyone important is in one place, making it very easy to gather up rather than hunting everyone down across the island.
tentacoolmom: Unfortunate.
lesliecaron: Thank you, Nessie. It means a lot that you've opened up to a stranger like me.
tentacoolmom: It's usually difficult to judge character over text, but I've gotten pretty good at it. You're a Jailer, but not like the rest.
lesliecaron: Yeah… that's probably the best way to put it.
tentacoolmom: I wish you luck.
lesliecaron: Wish you luck, too. Both parts of you.

Leslie closed the comms channel, returning to the world around her. She was perched on a ceiling light, watching August asleep in his bed, dreaming happily. Her mind briefly flashed back to the first night that she tried to contact Merle, when she was perched on his bookshelf. Another pang of familiarity. This whole scene brought back so many memories, so many happy moments…

She couldn't wait to let someone else have that chance to love.


This piece was written for RomCon, hosted by UraniumEmpireUraniumEmpire! Make sure to check out my opponent, stormbreathstormbreath's entry here featuring their character, the Crocosquid! Special thanks to PerdohPerdoh for their use of the character, August Jorel!

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