In the Pit, Before the Storm

rating: +42+x

October 31st
Sloth's Pit, Wisconsin

"Close the portal! Close it now!"

"I can't— Kat's still on the other side!"

"God dammit, get her through there! Does anyone have, like, a lasso or anything?"

"Fuck it. I'm going in after her."

"You can't! If we don't close the portal by midnight, the world will be overrun by the souls of everyone who has ever died!"

"I'm not about to leave Kathryn behind. Now, I'm going to roll strength to try to resist the dimensional wind—" Montgomery Reynolds shook his hand, and winced as the twenty-sided die he had in it flew out of his grip and struck the far wall of the common room with an audible clatter. "Hell's Bells, son of a bitch."

"I keep on telling you not to roll dice with your gloves on!" From behind his DM screen, Tristan Bailey concealed a roll of his eyes underneath his wide-brimmed hat. "Sinclair, do you mind?"

"Seriously?" Katherine Sinclair tilted her head, pulling off one of her furred gloves. "Kind of a waste." She spoke a word under her breath, and the die started floating towards her.

"I mean, you have a blank check when it comes to magic use for the whole of October, and last I checked, it's still October." Tristan shrugged, looking at Reynolds. "Seriously, dude can't you just take off the gloves?"

"Would you prefer your dice to be covered in green bodypaint?" Reynolds adjusted his fake ears. "It was the best way to convey that my character was orcish on short notice."

Sinclair plucked the twenty-sided die out of thin air and handed it back to her partner, giving a smile from behind her fur-and-foam mask. "Where the hell did Pike go off to? She was meant to be back with cider twenty minutes ago."

"Probably untangling her husband from his costume again." Tristan rolled his eyes. "I don't know why he insisted on wearing something like that. I don't care what he says, 'Combat Clothing' is a stupid idea for a monk."

"It lets their ki flow through their body, which they then enhance w—" Dr. Claude Mattings's entrance, and his sentence, were foiled by him tripping over a far-too-long pant leg, only for him to be caught by his wife.

"Yeah, well, your monk can wear them because he has 22 Dex and a high enough acrobatics that Natural 1's do nothing." Cassandra Pike propped up Claude using her druid's staff. "Sorry about that. Dumbass got pantsed by the elevator."

"No cider?" Reynolds frowned.

"Saving it for the party." Pike shook her head. "And Claude was barred from gastronomy's kitchen on account of being 'highly flammable'."

"Hmm." Sinclair replaced her glove and beckoned them over. "Well, come on. Monty's about to jump back into the rift to try to save my ass."

"Just because you're fascinated by magical phenomena out of character doesn't mean it has to be the same in character." Reynolds gave a playful smile, and rolled his dice. It looked as if though it were about to land on a twenty—

And then the alarms started. Startled, Tristan bumped the table, sending the various character sheets, miniatures, and dice upon it around. "What the fuck?"

«All Personnel, This is a Code Sparagmos.» The message was automated, and sounded like it hadn't been updated since the early 90's. «Please Report To The Designated Meeting Areas And Await Further Instructions From Your Department Heads.»

"Guess the game's off." Claude sighed, halfway to the table. "Very well, then. Cassandra, Biology's meeting area is on Sublevel 3, outside the Entymology Lab. Grant's probably going to be happy to have a distraction from those damned mantids."

"At least take off the costume. You'll be tripping the whole way down." Pike rolled her eyes and made her way out beside her husband.

Sinclair made her way out of the room alongside Reynolds, managing to catch an elevator with a very confused-looking Christopher Hastings. The botanist blinked at the pair of them. "So much for peace and quiet." Hastings adjusted the small bonsai tree he was holding in his arms.

"We were doing so well this year." Sinclair sighed, taking off the head of her costume and wiping the sweat from her brow. "I mean, yes, it is raining candy corn on League Street, but that'll clear up by tomorrow. Plus, we managed to shut down that cursed mask shop before it could do any real harm."

"I dunno," Hastings mused, "It looks to me like Reynolds got his head stuck in one."

Reynolds rolled his eyes, frowning as he saw the green paint fading away from his hands. "I swear, if this was caused by someone saying 'We're almost in the clear', I'm going to find the person that said that, and—"

"Fuck me gently with a chainsaw." In the barracks, Agent Allison Carol had awoke with a start and hit her head on the underside of the cot above her. She already felt the goose egg forming underneath her hair. "Fucking ow."

"Asleep on Halloween Night? Bold move, let's see how it plays out." A hand was extended to her, belonging to Robert Tofflemire, her partner.

"I wasn't sleeping! I was just… resting my eyes." Allison rubbed her head and stood up under her own power. "About time this happened. Code Spagarmos? Massive Nexus Anomalies?"

"Sparagmos." Robert nodded. "Referring to the act of dismemberment committed while under the influence of various wines and hallucinogens during a Dionysian ritual."

Allison blinked. "How do you know—"


"Of course." Allison made her way to the door of the barracks, towards her locker, where the thumbprint unlocked the metal door. "Still, not much we can do from here, other than monitor it. Like, we're not seriously deploying agents from Wisconsin in fucking… what's that one nexus in Korea, the one with the fog?"

"I mean, on the other hand, Amityville is an hour flight, and that's probably blowing up." Robert shook his head. "But no, I don't think we have to worry about actually being deployed. We're more… holding down the fort?"

Allison nodded, opening her locker. She fell backwards, startled, as a large amount of papers and books came spilling out. She sighed as she saw the culprit— shoddy welding on a shelf within the locker. "Fucker."

"Your research?" Robert raised an eyebrow.

"Yeah." Allison scooped up what she could and put them on a bench. Several cassette tapes clattered out. "Shit."

"A lot to have accumulated in the past month." Robert picked up one of the tapes. "And when were you planning to share this with Nexus Research?"

"Like, a month ago, but I got caught up in everything." Allison gathered what she could. "Like. Pretty much every Nexus has a point of failure— something that could happen to make it all fall down, whether physically, thematically or ontologically. I've found the breaking point for a lot of them, but there are a few I can't riddle out."

"Then take it to them! We're mustering there, anyway, Weiss needs all hands on deck."

"I-I don't think it's ready." Allison picked up several tapes. "I feel like I've been slacking on it. What if I get things wrong? What if—"

"Allison. I literally died a year ago. Neither of us are normal anymore!" To punctuate this, Robert stuck his hand into his pocket and drew out the dial of a Kant counter, before throwing it over his shoulder, where it vanished in a flash of narrative whitespace. "I can literally pull things out of my ass, and…" He sighed. "We never did figure out what your deal is, did we?"

"It doesn't matter." Allison shut the door to her locker, wincing as a stray thread of her shirt was caught in the door. "Just… help me gather up what we can, and we can take it to Weiss."

"All right." Robert looked around with a soft frown. "…you know, I think we're the only two people in here, still. It's like the room emptied out so we could have this conversation."

"Whatever you're insinuating, can it." Allison picked up a ream of paper. "We've got shit to do."

Nexus Research was located on Sublevel 7. The main control room resembled what one thought Mission Control at NASA looked like circa 1960, albeit with all of the computers running Windows 7 as opposed to punch cards.

Staff from all across the site were running between work stations. Some, like Sinclair and Reynolds, were frantically transcribing data about global thaumic disturbances. The head of Parazoology was in a heated phone call with someone in Boring. Every translator on the site had a phone in both hands, alternately texting and answering them.

And looking down on it all, from her auxiliary director's office, was Nina Weiss. A golden apple laid on her desk, tempting her to eat it. She'd tried throwing it away, crushing it, even shooting it once. It always came back. The tablet built into her desk displayed up-to-the-second updates about the situation around the world, and she wondered if she hadn't made a mistake by not calling a Code Sparagmos earlier. They had known about the anomalies as far back as the equinox last month, but it was just now that they were spiking up.

Nina Weiss was about to entertain the thought of retirement as she heard a stack of papers being deposited on her desk. She turned to see Allison Carol, sweating from exertion. "…I didn't hear you come in."

"Nor did I." Allison shook her head. "That's not important. Ma'am, I've highlighted a few areas that I think may be affected by SCP-4683. I…" She coughed. "'scuse me. I think that it would be in your best interest to focus on them as opposed to anywhere else."

Weiss was incredulous as she picked up the first sheet of paper, which listed anomaly occurrence patterns. The next was a map of leylines, the one after that a series of spreadsheets… Nina Weiss hadn't read this kind of data in years, and was used to getting summaries of it from her subordinates, easy-to-swallow pills that even a monkey could understand, and it had dulled her ability to process proper scientific data. But for some reason, all of this clicked. It made sense. As the cool kids said, she grokked it. "…how in the hell…" Her head throbbed.

"Well?" Allison wrung her hands together. "What do you think?"

Nina Weiss sat in silence for a few minutes. "I think, Miss Carol, that I need to address the site."

Director Weiss tapped button on her tablet to open up a direct audio feed to the whole of the site.

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