No form like the present
rating: +2+x

Outpost 6-5408 was a quiet office building at the outskirts of a small town in south Canada. This place was officially the office and cooling-house of a small fishing business. In other words a place the world would forget if someone just so happened to steal one page from a register in a small town-hall. There was not much money or fish running through this place nowadays. Not even the Insurgency wanted the place anymore. It had served its purpose and was now supposed to be empty. Well, dead places had a tendency to stay alive. Some old janitor was still keeping the parameters clean, but no one knew who paid him to do so.

Dr. Willsner drove his blue Ford Fiesta onto the empty parking lot. It seemed as if there was no one else there. Dr. Willsner checked that he had the keys to the place in his pocket as well as the documents he would show to anyone that caught him entering a supposedly empty building. His favorite kind of explanation was "Health Inspector", but for this case he had chosen "Structural Engineer".

Dr. Willsner took out a piece of paper and wrote down his impressions. In case that he would die here, his successor would need as much information as Dr. Willsner could give him or her. The team that was send here before him had not leaved such notes, making his job considerably harder. They had recovered nothing from them. Air-surveillance saw them enter the offices, but not reemerging. Dr. Willsner decided not to head into the offices first and instead marched towards the cooling hall. There was no hesitation in his step, just the excitement one would expect from a skydiver seconds before the jump.

An old man was mopping the floor of the empty cooling hall when Dr. Willsner stepped through the door. When Dr. Willsner saw the old man he sight in disappointment as he realized that the janitor was not wearing the stupid hat the person he had hoped to find here was never seen without. "Hey, am i right here at Fish and Western?" The old man looked up from his work and laughed a dry laugh. "That is what is written above the main gate, but they are out of business."

Dr. Willsner took a few steps into the room when he realized that the hair of the old man was not only white, but also very full. For the untrained eye it would pass as natural, but he knew that something was wrong here. "For who do you work here? Who owns this place nowadays?" Dr. Willsner began to scan the hall for more oddities. Than he noticed the most glaring odditie within the hall. There was no car parked outside and yet the janitor was here. Perhaps a bike he had not noticed?

The old man drew a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and leaned his mop against the wall. "I could go look a few details up, but I am being paid by an insolvency firm. They wanted to sell this place, but never did." Dr. Willsner closed the distance between them. "Just a quick thing before I go back to my car. Was there a man with a stupid hat here looking for some documents." Dr. Willsner had tried to poke the beast. If this old man really was who Dr. Willsner suspected him to be he could propably get some reaction out of him for poking fun at his choice of fashion.

The janitor squinted a bit. "A friend of yours?" The janitor lighted his cigarette. "You could say that. Was he here?" Dr. Willsner had expected a stronger reaction. Had he been wrong about the old man? "There was a guy with a hat here, but he was not interested in documents. He just said he needed to check the water clock. This place no longer has running water so i told him to get lost." This last statement reminded him of something. Where did the old man get the water from? Dr. Willsner remembered something else, something about the cigarettes his target smoked. They were considered deadly to humans do to there anomaly that activated once there smoke hit moisture. Since inhaled smoke must pass a wet throat, before reaching the lungs, it would instantly trigger and kill the smoker in less then a second. His target could only smoke them because he himself was an anomaly. Dr. Willsner would test his theory immediately. If he was wrong he could just give the old guy a bit of money and never cross paths with him again. Perhaps he would even go and check the water-clock.

"Excuse me, I just have to be sure." With that Dr. Willsner drew the cigarette out of the old mans mouth and dropped it into the water bucket. Blue sparks vanished into the floor the moment the cigarette hit the water. The smell of ozone penetrated the air and vanished.

"And here I thought not wearing a hat would be enough." The white hair of the old man grew longer and was standing up like he had just received an electric shock. The hair popped back into the form of that cylinder hat Dr. Willsner had expected to find here. "Meta, knew I would find you mobbing some abandoned building."

"You know me, at least a bit better than the guys that came here before you. The bomb at the water clock would have been fun to see go off thou. I experimented with a few metals to make it bright and colorful." The janitor uniform was melting away, being replaced by a white suit and a red tie.

Dr. Willsner looked up to the man that had just grown 25 centimeters and lost all resemblance to the old janitor. "I wont get you back to Base Six in the near future?" Dr. Willsner was very exited, but kept his voice down as best as he could. This was like the third pull of the trigger in Russian roulette. His current chance for death were 1 to 4, 25%. "Never say never, but currently I am busy." The voice of the Ghost of Base Six no longer resembled the old man's voice. In fact the voice had lost all discerning features. Dr. Willsner stepped back a bit. "You are not building an army again?" Just get him talking. He likes an audience. If i get him talking this will increase my odds.

The man in the white suit laugh, this time a laugh sounding like a clicking. "No, nothing of that sort." In the next moment the floor-tiles became transparent reveling the cellar of the facility. Encased in glass was a bird, at least 20 meters long. The silver feathers shimmered metallic in the afternoon sun coming from outside. "I am thinking about the past, the present and the future." Dr. Willsner looked down to the bird and to his shock he saw that the bird was looking back at him. Not good, 35%.

"You will never let that thing go, will you?" Dr. Willsner was referencing another article he had read concerning his target, something about metallic birds. Dr. Willsner tried to recall more details, but was unable to. Making the target feel understood was the key to his survival. The shred of sympathy more or less from this being could mean the difference between life and death. "I wont. But the time for it to be free once more has not arrived yet." The man in the suit looked at his pocketwatch. "Tick, tock. Tick, tock. The past is here, tick, tock, in the present's fear, tick tock, tick tock, with the future near." Again the man in white laughed.

50%.

Than Dr. Willsner was alone in a normal abandoned cooling building, complete with a solid floor. The man in white had vanished and had taken all evidence of him ever being there with him, even the floor was dirty.


Dr. Willsner moved cautiously through the office building. He was sure that he was alone by now. The creature which the Insurgency called "The Ghost of Base Six" was no longer around. Almost all recorded encounters where someone had managed to talk to him had ended in a similar way. "Gone like a bad dream", "turned to smoke and faded" and "jumped into a hole out of realty" were just some ways agents had described the end of there conversations. Dr. Willsner went through his memories of these documented cases. There was always a reason why an agent would stop to pursue the case of "White Smile Cat". "Excessive bursts of paranoia", "chronic delusion" and "death" were the most abounded reasons.

"Meta Wonderrat" was not categorized as "hostile" at the moment, but was instead categorized as "unpredictable". Dr. Willsner was sure that this was a lie. There was a random element to "the Sandbox Knight", but that could be easily explained with the nature of sentience. The being in the white suit was many things, but not unreasonably unpredictable. There was always a pattern. It might be erratic and inconsistent at times, but it was there. Like a code of honor or a philosophy. Applying human logic to something not truly human was a futile attempt at understanding the unknown. The Insurgency, he, was better than this.

He heard something from upstairs. It was an almost rhythmic clicking. He had heard something similar just moments prior. The laugh of the being in the white suit had sounded almost identical to this. He underlined the word "almost" in his thoughts. This was similar, but definitely different. Dr. Willsner moved up, towards the door. His body and mind, ready to jump down the stairs if there was something unreasonably mad behind the door. You can come back from a concussion, but coming back from madness induced madness was another matter.

Dr. Willsner updated his notes once more and put a copy of his notes onto a window board. What ever was in there had not let the infiltration team go, once Meta had leaved the building. This meant that it was most likely still armed and ready to strike again. Dr. Willsner went through the reports he had memorized. He could not find a repetition of this situation. Following his "Philosophy theory" he discarded the repeating patterns and focused on the "originals", patterns that occurred once and never again. "Recurring element: Obvious lure" and "Original: Unknown Mechanism, trap. Independent and active in absence, marked by false laughter". There were cases with traps, unknown mechanisms and things active in the absence of there creator, but this was the first time that all 3 had occurred together.

Dr. Willsner readied his mind by letting go of all assumptions he had about things usually behind doors in general and office buildings in particular. If behind that door was the vacuum of space, bipedal walking motors with knifes or just a room full with eggs, it would not shock him at this point. He took a deep breath and opened the door.

The room was large, easily comparable to a large ball room. The room itself was filled with transparent, but colorful, color changing mist. Within the mist swam several coy like fish, that glittered in rainbow colors as well. Stairs lead down into a floor curved like a valley and there on a chair with the back turned to the door sat "the Ghost of Base Six", cylinder and all, laughing.

Dr. Willsner scanned the room, for signs of immediate hostility. There was non. The room looked pretty and the fish non threatening. While looking at the back of the figure in white he noticed it. This thing had shown no reaction what so ever to him opening the door. This room was a display of power. He placed this little bit of information into his search for a pattern. There it was. If that thing down there was Meta he would have laughed at his own creation for an extended period of time while under observation. That was ether an "Original" or a clue towards the real situation. This down there was not Meta, but the "obvious lure". It was part of the "artwork", something white in a room filled with colors, something to draw the focus… downward.

Dr. Willsner looked up. Under the ceiling, encased in colorful ice swam the members of the missing team. There faces frozen in shock, pain and disbelief. Dr. Willsner closed the door and updated his notes and took the copy back from the window board.


Dr. Willsner sat in his car outside of the perimeter. He drew out his phone and called the number on speed dial. "Alister to Red King. I have confirmed the location of the White-Smile-Cat. I also now have confirmation on what happened to Rabid-Hole-Diver-2. That was W.S.C., alright. I need a metaphor analysis of a silver bird encased in glass. The target is still not inherently hostile, but I am not sure that we still have him under control." The voice on the other end sounded concerned when she said "We need to be more careful from now on. He has no regard for our installations and we don't know what he will blow up next." Dr. Willsner was surprised that he was not talking to Red King, the leader of "Operation Wonder Cat". "I can ease your mind there, White Queen, but tell me, why do you have Red Kings phone?"

"We had more activity. What ever you did back there it had an effect on Wonderland. Red King is down there now to determine if it will hinder our operation in the future." Dr. Willsner, code name "Alister", sight. He was not sure what was worse in his current situation. Having no further lead on the W.S.C. or his activity potentially endangering one of the biggest facilities under Insurgency control.

Alister's voice was dry when he laid down his theory. It might be a bad theory, but the fact that he had not meet a fate like Rabid-Hole-Diver-2 at the hand of some absurd explosive device or "piece of art" was speaking for his theory. "I don't believe that he wants to blow up our stuff. He could have just triggered his bomb when he realized I would not fall for it. He does not want his setups to fail, he just wants to make sure that they fail spectacularly once they do fail."

"Than what are you suggesting we should do? Let him build bombs until he listens to us?" White Queen or Maggy Spenser was not convinced. He could hear that. "No, I think we need to outsmart him. If we can get his creations to succeed they will no longer blow holes in our installations." Dr. Willsner looked back to the building that could have been his grave. He remembered the faces of the man and woman encased in colorful ice. "He has not set it up for me to run into an open knife. He warned me, in his near indecipherable way."

"You make a good point against yourself there. You know his projects. We cant keep them from failing.""When have we ever fully tried? We told him we would help, and have never followed through. No wonder his devices do so much damage. Leaving him alone wont stop him, proclaiming to help and than doing nothing wont stop him. We are running out of options." White Queen was not at all pleased. "Than we just go against that beast with full force." Alister sighed. "You were not part of the team back than and nether was i, but when he first appeared he ran with a group of Insurgency wannabes. They thought they could get into the Insurgency by force. The fight against them was a resource sink that cost us way more than what it should have. If that is what he does to win us over I would much rather not find out what he would do to damage us."

White Queen was not at all pleased with Alister's words. "What can a ghost do? He is not even real. I wont just turn tail and let him do as he pleases." She was almost screaming. Alister leaned back. He knew what she was thinking. A virus is something to be cured not actively encouraged. That pattern of thinking just showed him how new she was to this game. The Insurgency was perhaps the only organization who would make the thing that damaged it even deadlier. This was what they were supposed to do and they were the only once strong enough to do it. "I will be in touch." Alister hung up the phone. This could get ugly really fast, but if his idea reached the right ears it might also turn into something beautiful. That was not up to him. It was up to Red King. White Queen would play her part, but this situation could go ether way.

Dr. Willsner looked back at the building. "If i am wrong, our chances of survival are currently below 50%." Dr. Willsner looked at his hand. He was visibly shaking. "What could he mean by 'The past is here, in the present's fear, with the future near.'? If he was not building an army, what was he doing here?" Pondering these questions Dr. Willsner drove off.


In the misty hall of the office building, the figure in the white suit stopped laughing. It tabbed its gloved index finger against the table again and again. Than it looked up to the frozen men and woman drifting under the ceiling. Its skull head with the red glowing dots focused in on the captured team.

"He is not thinking far enough, nether is the Insurgency guy." Dr. Vinirs voice did not match his skeletal appearance. It sounded nothing like the laughing at all and would have properly suited a man with at least 150 Kilograms.

Dr. Vinir placed the dictaphone he had hidden in his costume onto the table. He had played the part he had been assigned to, but not even Edgar Venir knew the intent of his superior. This little bit of his had been just style, without substance.

Again the skeleton in the suit looked up. "Consider yourself lucky. You will be easily rescued and reintegrated into the Insurgency once they come to collect the anomaly."

Dr. Vinir went onto his knees to open the hidden floor compartment to retrieve his casual costume. As he drew the silicon mask over his head and changed in to a reasonably attractive man in his early sixties he pondered his boss once more. Why was he going to such great lengths to be misunderstood? This had to be a ploy of some sort.

Dr. Vinir had worked for some form of Meta Wonderrat since the fifties. He was sure that there was at least some time travel involved, but why was he doing this? The Meta he had come to known was a bit eccentric, for sure, but this was so over the top that he was not even sure that the two Metas he knew were the same person. The only thing he could think of was that his boss was trying to reinvent himself somewhat. From a shadowy figure pulling strings behind the scenes for years to some sort of flashy moron. It would give him attention and perhaps a momentary advantage, but this would definitely cost him his serious business as well as large amounts of consistency. In there line of work it was vital that the other parties you wanted to do business with knew exactly what they were getting into. Suddenly becoming "wacky" meant losing the previously build up trust, which was build upon reliable consistency.

Dr. Vinir had finished putting on his costume and closed the hidden hatch.

Then there was that other guy, "Willsner". He had read some files on the new flashy moron version, but had neglected to dig deep enough to find the schemer. Truly a shame.

"You be good now. Once you are in the Insurgency start your mission. There is no reason to believe that you will be found out before the final stage of your mission. That would be all."

Dr. Venir looked up, into several smiling, red eyed faces.

"Remember to show your best, 'help, we are trapped' faces. They don't need to know about your reprogramming just yet and please, for the love of good, don't use these eyes if it is not necessary, they are little more than a side effect we could not get rid off in time."

Dr. Venir leaved the building through a door that melted away behind him, leaving behind several scared, trapped "Rabbit-Hole-Divers".


At the gate to the offices of the fish firm "Fish and Western" hung a note written in white on red cardboard: "Sold". In the lower right corner of the sign someone had drawn a tiny white cylinder hat.

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