rhineriver gay ass sandbox

1


As Felix looked at the crowd he was hidden from, he felt a pit in the hole where his stomach would be.

The man stood, in his favorite overcoat, in the right wing of a stage. On the stage, a large orchestra was setting up. The curtain was drawn, but Felix could still see the audience through the small gap between it and the proscenium. His eyes squinted against the bright lights shining at the stage, and he could barely make out the silhouettes of the hundreds of people filling the grand theater. Felix turned away from the gap, stepping further into the wing. He was scratching at his arms under his coat, and was close to hyperventilating.

"You shouldn't do that."

Felix's state of paranoia was interrupted by a familiar voice. He looked to the source of it, meeting the gaze of William Henry Seward. His eyes relaxed at the sight of his good friend, and he moved closer to him, adjusting his hearing aids to hear him better.

"Will, I don't think I can do this." Felix started reaching for his forearms again, but was stopped by William grasping both of his arms. He looked down at the scarred skin with concern, and returned his gaze to Felix's face.

"Yes, you can. This is what you've been waiting for."

Felix cocked his head at William. "It's not that easy, Will. It's been over 100 years since I've done this. Imagine if you returned to politics after all this time."

"You're right." William thought for a moment before continuing, "but think about it this way. You've had over 100 years to perfect this. And you have. It's really amazing."

Felix sounded annoyed. "I know you think so. But you—" He didn't know how to finish his thought, so he resorted to gesturing vaguely at the audience instead, wresting his arms free of William's hold. William reached to grab Felix's wrists again but stopped when an announcement came from the other side of the curtain.

"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming to the Matthew G. Harrison Center for the Performing Arts. The show will begin in 15 minutes. Please silence all smartphones at this time. Thank you."

Will looked back at Felix, who stared wide-eyed back at him. "Felix, I promise you, you can do this."

Felix didn't say anything to him, because he knew he was right. He simply placed his back against the wall and sighed as he slid down to the floor of the stage. William leaned down beside him. "It's just—" Felix didn't know how to continue. William placed an arm on his shoulder.

Felix thought a bit before continuing. "I've spent over 100 years torturing myself over this. But, it's almost like, now that I'm here, I don't want to do it anymore." He looked up at William. "Was it all worth it?"

William looked down at his old friend with soft eyes. "Felix. I think you do want to do this. You just don't want to do it wrong. But you won't. You've had all this time to make sure of that. You've been hidden from the viewing public for so long because you're the last of the great composers left. But now you can finally come out and do this. That's got to mean something."

The two of them sat in the right wing of the stage of the Matthew G. Harrison Center for the Performing Arts in complete and utter silence. Felix adjusted his hearing aids to make sure of it. After decades of deafness he'd grown to find comfort in silence. After a long and peaceful 15 minutes, the silence was broken as the announcer returned. Felix and William made eye contact one final time before standing up. As Felix picked up a baton and walked onstage, taking his position in front of the orchestra, he glanced his scarred, burned, tortured face to his friend, smiled, and raised his arms in perfect unison with the curtain.

"The Matthew G. Harrison Center is proud to present, for the first time in over a century, the updated edition of Songs Without Words by Felix Mendelssohn!"

As the sounds of the orchestra filled his damaged ears and the lights beamed down on his worn-out skin, Felix Mendelssohn could've sworn he was still alive.

2


A young teenage girl found herself walking alone at night. The concert ended later than she thought it would, and her parents were too asleep to drive her home. She shivered in the cold nighttime air. The moon was high as she shuffled her feet heavily along the sidewalk. She couldn't help avoiding the feeling that she was being watched.

"Come on, come on…" She fiddled with her keys nervously, wishing she had lived somewhere closer. She startled as a streetlight went out above her. Picking up the pace, she began to look side to side frantically. "Okay… it's okay…" she mumbled under her breath, not exactly as comfortingly as she hoped it would be.

She passed the next streetlight, startling once more as it fizzled out above her. She began jogging, panting heavily, eyes darting and knees buckling as each successive light blinked out in perfect synchronicity with her movements. She stopped for just a moment to catch her breath, physically and mentally exhausted, and leaned against one of the dysfunctional lampposts. Then all at once her eyes shot open and her breathing stopped.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

She slowly turned her head to look cautiously behind her. Every streetlight for the whole block was down now, save for one about seven lights down. It illuminated just enough for her to see a tall silhouette, with a long trench coat and a wide-brimmed hat motionless beneath the light.

The girl's heartbeat, already going a mile a minute, picked up its pace even further. She began running, not daring to look back, for block after block after block. Dark, labyrinthine streets passed under her, looming and all-encompassing apartment buildings flying past above her. She ran and ran and ran and ran and ran until she felt like her poor, terrified heart would give out.

And all the while,

Thud. Thud. Thud.

After an eternity of running, she finally decided to turn her head once more, noticing the silhouette slowly walking toward her, at a pace that should've been impossible to catch up to her. And yet it was closer than before, unyieldingly shuffling its feet forward. She could make out a large hook where its hand should've been. Maybe if she turned a corner she could—

CRASH. THUD.

The girl, distracted by her stalker, had run headstrong into a garbage can on the street, tumbling right over it and toppling onto her back. Having exhausted all physical strength, she could do nothing but crawl backwards and whimper for mercy.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Thud. Thud. Th

CRASH!

"WHAAAA!!!!" The girl screamed and covered her head in fear as a loud noise boomed out in the otherwise still air. Having already accepted her fate, she didn't bother looking up at what it might've been.

"Fear not, citizen!"

Slowly and confusedly, the girl unfurled her body and looked above her. A looming silhouette was in front of her, but it was different this time. Shorter, less imposing, but locked in a prideful stance. Next to the new silhouette was her stalker, collapsed on the ground with a face full of… needles?

"Who… who are you…?" the girl timidly squeaked.

"I am none other than…" The silhouette made a dramatic pause before jumping into the light of the streetlamp. "CACTUSMAN!" A short man wearing a dorky green costume stood in front of her. A long pine-green cape flowed freely behind a paler spandex bodysuit. A small cloth ribbon obscured the skin around his eyes and thick green gardening gloves encompassed a hand helpfully reached out in her direction.

She couldn't help but stifle a laugh at the man's goofy smile and extravagant outfit. She grabbed his hand, allowing him to pull her up from the ground. She stuttered a couple uncertain thank-yous as bright red and blue lights filled the area. A portly man in a police uniform caught up to the two of them.

Cactusman turned to the officer. "Another villain vanquished, sir. The streets are safe yet again!" He struck another dramatic pose.

"Thank you for your help, Cactusman. We couldn't do this without you." The officer's partners began hauling the unconscious villain's body into a police car. "Let's get you two down to the station for a report."

The girl, while perhaps not in the most reliable state of mind, could've sworn she saw a tear fall down the strange man's face.

3


Tallakant's eyes were closed for a very long time.

Slowly, but surely, they began to open. One by one, Tallakant could feel the light of life returning to her. It began in the form of a small baby boy in Massachusetts. After the truth came out, and there was no longer a need to hide Tallakant from the world, this baby boy was finally allowed to keep his name. His parents had heard of what happened to Tallakant, and wished to bring her back.

Then, it was an adult woman, finally able to pick a name that suited her. Then, another baby, one whose great grandfather was lost along with Tallakant, and whose family wished to honor him. Then, a teenager with a nickname among his friend group. Then, someone who wished to distance themself from their family and found themself needing a last name. Then, after a while, Tallakant began to lose track.

Tallakant Rason looked in the mirror, running her hand across the smooth surface. She looked down at her phone, displaying a picture of her from several months ago. She couldn't believe how different she looked already. The picture almost looked like a different person in her mind. A couple of months on HRT really does that to you, huh? She smiled, and walked downstairs.

"…talking about the SCP Foundation. We've covered them a lot on this show, and I'm sure you're tired of hearing about them by now, but tonight we thought we'd go over just what exactly the situation in North Korea was, what it means, and what can be done about it…"

Tallakant heard the voice of John Oliver on the TV as she entered the living room, grabbing herself a cup of water from the kitchen on her way there, and sat down on the couch next to her father. He looked up from the bowl of orange slices he was eating.

"Good morning, Re—" her father began, cutting himself off. He cleared his throat before continuing, "um, Tallakant. Sorry, I'm still getting u—"

"It's alright." Tallakant smiled. "Thank you for trying."

"You know, I have been meaning to ask you, why Tallakant? I heard about what happened to everyone with that name several years ago. Don't you think it's a little scary of a name? I don't mean to offend you or nothin' but it's a little ominous don't you think?"

"I guess." She looked down, closing her eyes and experiencing the thoughts of thousands of people at once.

"What the fuck did he just say?" Tallakant Thompson yelled, as a gut reaction.

"He's trying to get to know us better, good for him," posited Tallakant Kitaka, upon second thought.

"I'm glad he's here for us," Edwin Tallakant mused, thinking the situation over more.

"We get why you chose it. It's quite beautiful," Tallakant Vadell said, coming up with a response.

"But would he understand it?" wondered Tallakant Espinosa, having second thoughts.

As Tallakant thought of a way to respond, Tallakant Rason's father looked at her quizzically. "Tally?"

Snapping out of it, she looked up at her father. "I guess, um, the history of it is part of the meaning, you know? The name was crushed, uh, stamped out, right, and so— when the, the truth came out…"

"I don't think he'll get it," James J. Tallakant warned.

"Why does he care what reason we chose it?" asked Gideon "Tallakant" Fitzryan.

"Does there even have to be a reason? He should back off," continued Tallakant LaMontagne.

"But there is one," Tallakant Marina Blackwood reminded.

"But it's not like he's ever understood anything about us anyway. It's a lost cause trying to tell him," Tallakant Halloway said uncertainly and untruthfully.

"But I still want to." Tallakant Rason declared. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before making eye contact with her father. "I did choose it for a reason."

"What is it? If ya' don't mind me askin'." Her father made eye contact back.

"I feel like it represents the, um, anomalous," she said this word with distaste, Tallakant was not a fan of the word, "struggle, as, uh, magical people have been put down so many times but we— uh, they, uh, have, like, come back, you know? Like, the name has become more popular again, so it's like a— a representation of, like, overcoming adversity and stuff, which is what I want to stand with. You know?"

Tallakant waited for him to respond. She waited for him to start yelling, she waited for him to start crying and asking her questions, she waited for him to call her mother in and disown her. Instead, he looked at her, the perplexed look on his face growing stronger, and simply asked, "you're anomalous?"

Tallakant cringed at the word. "Uh, yeah. I never told you guys because I thought you'd think I was crazy but—"

"Honey, we'd never think you're crazy. We'll always love you, no matter what. But, what exactly do you do?"

Tallakant raised her left arm, placing an orange seed in it. The seed began rapidly growing, sprouting a small seedling almost immediately, with no soil or water. She held the plant in her hand, in front of her father's starstruck face. After several agonizing moments of silence, he father cupped his hands over hers, picking up the small plant and examining it. He then looked up with the soft eyes he never once lost throughout the entire interaction, and spoke to his new daughter. "What a beautiful power, Tallakant."

Tallakant Rason couldn't stop herself from crying as she leaned forward to hug her father. He hugged her back, with all the love he had in his body.

4


Virgil leaned against the back wall of the bar and sighed. He folded his arms, looking at the window across from him sadly. It had been nearly an entire day with no customers.

He sighed. "Zazzy, I thought you said it would be a good idea to start a business in Vegas."

Zazzy looked over at him from the kitchen. "Listen, okay, I just thought it could be nice to have a change of pace."

"Well, this certainly is a change of pace."

"Ugh, can't you just be happy for us, Virgil? We have a nice home, a nice p—"

"Yeah, and a nice bar with no customers." He leaned on the bar counter. "Real nice move, honey."

Zazzy massaged her temples. "Well, I don't know, Virgil, why don't you try putting some work into the place for once, maybe then we can afford to leave. Since apparently it's so bad here."

"Put in the work? Who the fuck do you think has been doing everything around here?"

"I don't see you cleaning the fucking kitchen every night!"

"Cleaning up after what fucking orders? It's not that hard. And besides, I don't see you putting up with all the drunk people around here."

"Yeah, and who's the drunk one half of the time?"

"Hard not to be when it sucks so much here."

Zazzy began tearing up. "Yeah, sure, go ahead. Boohoo, your life is terrible and miserable because of me. Is that what you want to hear?"

"No, I just want some Satandamn acknowledgem—"

"…Woah."

The two of them stopped their bickering at the sound of a third voice, coming from the front door of the establishment. A young human man stood in the open doorframe, looking around the bar. He wore a beanie and a hoodie and smelled like weed. "No wayyy…"

"Hello?— Um, how can I help you today?" Virgil snapped out of his previous attitude, switching to his customer service voice.

The man looked starry-eyed back at him. He spoke with a wide smile. "This is so cool! So, like, you guys are real demons?"

"Uh— um. Yeah?"

"That's so crazy. I mean, like, I was always taught about you guys in church but, like, it's another thing to see one of you. I'm gonna be honest, I didn't think you fellas were real." He cupped his hands over his mouth. "Oh, my bad, is that rude? Like, I promise it's not because I didn't want you to be real, but, like—"

Virgil cut him off. "Wait, wait, wait. Sorry, you've never seen a demon before?" By this point Zazzy had joined him behind the counter.

"Nope. You guys are the first two I've seen around here. I came straight to the first bar I saw when I flew in, you know what I mean?"

"Sorry, are you Foundation? Are you cleared to be here?"

"Uh, those weird guys from TV? No. They're kinda scary."

Virgil and Zazzy looked dumbfounded at one another. Zazzy spoke up. "From TV?"

"Yeah, everyone's talking about them. Kind of annoying, like, come on, there's gotta be other news. It's all Foundation this, Foundation that, you know what I mean?"

"Why is the Foundation on the news? Isn't that against their whole M.O.?"

"Oh, yeah, big thing, right. They went public. Like, apparently they were secret before but now everyone knows about them cause they blew up North Korea or something. I don't know, I'm not a current events guy, really."

"So you're a civilian. Why'd you come here?" Virgil asked.

"Geez, you guys are nosy. But are you kidding me? I learn that there are real demons in a secret part of Vegas that I can go to now, and I'm not gonna fly over immediately?"

"They're letting civvies in here?"

"Yeah the Vegas government made them or something, I don't know. Probably something about taxes. Anyway, can I order a drink now?"

Virgil almost forgot he was a bartender. "Right, right. Sorry. This is just all very new, we're not used to a lot of humans around here, and the ones we do get are all Foundation."

"I hear you, man. Anyway, I'll take the Seventh Layer Margherita, please."

"Right away." Virgil took down the order and prepared the man his drink before engaging in more mindless small talk for an hour or so until the man was on his way. He left him a hearty tip for the conversation and told him he'd tell his casino buddies about the place. In the bartending business, Virgil had heard a lot of empty promises about reviews, so he didn't give it much of a thought.

However, word of mouth spreads quickly in Undervegas, and soon enough the bar was packed with humans and demons alike, intermingling and sharing stories and cultures with each other like they were never able to before. Suddenly, Virgil and Zazzy's little bar on the outskirts of Undervegas felt like home, and they were able to look into each other's eyes with the type of passion he'd forgotten they once shared with each other.

When they closed up shop for the night, Virgil hugged Zazzy tightly, tighter than he had in a long, long time.

5


Jon sat down in a park bench in State College, Pennsylvania for a nice place to read. It was a place he'd found himself quite often over the course of his time at college, and he figured he shouldn't waste a beautiful day cooped up inside.

He often took things for granted. This park was relatively new, if he recalled correctly, it was built sometime around 2015. Well, the land was always there, but some new trees and a central plaza with benches, a fountain, and a statue were put up. He remembered the name of the plaza because there was a big sign on an arch when you approached it. The sign read, "James M. Talloran Memorial Plaza." He never took the time to ever learn why it was named that, though; he only needed to know the name to tell people where it was if he needed to meet them there. Lots of buildings at Penn State and roads in the city that he frequented were named after people, so he assumed that whoever James M. Talloran was, they must've been someone important— or at least wealthy— enough for a plaza named after them.

He put his book down in his lap. There were birds in the trees above him. People were walking and talking through the park and enjoying the sun. Well, as much as they could in November in Pennsylvania. Jon looked away from them and at the center of the plaza. Come to think of it, he never payed much attention to the statue in the center either. He never really thought of wondering who it might be or why it might be there. Placing his book beside him on the bench, he stood up and slowly walked toward the statue.

The statue was… bronze? Brass? Whatever material they made park statues out of. You know the one, the brown-y, shiny-ish but not quite, metal thing. Jon didn't know much about statues, he began to realize. It was on top of a large pedestal, about the size of a person so that the statue was always technically above you. He guessed the pedestal was made of marble because of how polished the stone was, but he'd have to Google it.

The statue depicted a person, as they often do. The person was young, with long, shoulder-length hair, wearing a lab coat and kneeling on both knees. Their hands were behind their head, almost as if they were duck-and-covering. Jon could barely see their face, noticing a long mark on either side of their mouth. Their face was bold and smiling, despite their position.

It was certainly an odd statue. Jon looked down from it at the pedestal it resided on. There was a plaque.

The James M. Talloran Memorial Plaza

Donated to the Borough of State College by Draven Kondraki and the Talloran family

The James M. Talloran Memorial Plaza is dedicated to the life and memory of James Martin Talloran. A kind, loving person, as well as an accomplished researcher, James Talloran was an active member of the State College community, often giving back to people in any way that they could. Talloran's achievements, both as an alumnus of Penn State and an employee of the SCP Foundation, have paved the way for fellow scientists and contributed to mankind's eternal quest for knowledge.

James Talloran is remembered here for their contributions not only to our community, but also to the world. They gave their life in the fight against SCP-3999, for which they have been awarded a posthumous Foundation Star and Presidential Medal of Freedom. Most importantly, they ensured that each of us is able to live one more beautiful day.

James Talloran is remembered as a hero, a beloved community member, and a talented scientist. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten.

Jon finished reading the plaque, and looked out at the sky. He should read these things more often. Since the veil fell, he'd realized that the world was a lot more precarious than he'd like it to be. He really was glad someone was there to make sure that beautiful blue sky wasn't eaten.

6


The Compendium recognizes the Foundation

Interesting. This isn't exactly the most ideal circumstances, but I think they're getting there. Their world now is certainly a lot better than it was.

However, we don't need to hold their hand just yet, they still need to learn. But this is a step in the right direction. After all, we ourselves went through something similar. Abandoning the idea of dark and light was the first step to building our world. Don't you all remember how shaky it all was those first couple of months? Give them some time, let them handle it.

It didn't need to happen with so many lives lost, obviously, but we already know they're not perfect, and God knows we weren't either. We all wish it had happened differently but, really, what else is a better indicator of their world than their ability to rise after such a blow?

The Foundation votes no. Not yet. Let's see how this goes.

7



mykariagirll.png


tbil brainrot
⁂mykariagirll



Hey everyone, it's good to be back. Don't worry about where I've been, I'm alright now. Just learned of this app, hopefully it'll be better than Amino. Anyone hear a fan of Penumbra W.A.V.E.?
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01:56 PM - 12 July 2019



mykariagirll.png


tbil brainrot
⁂mykariagirll



Some fanart I drew for my favorite PWAVE characters <3 i love these guys so much
  • ECHOES 2
  • HUMS 10


01:56 PM - 12 July 2019



mykariagirll.png


tbil brainrot
⁂mykariagirll



More PWAVE fanart <33 General Aldinian my beloved 🥺
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01:56 PM - 12 July 2019



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tbil brainrot
⁂mykariagirll



Penumbraposting again
  • ECHOES 11
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01:56 PM - 12 July 2019



mykariagirll.png


tbil brainrot
⁂mykariagirll



I feel like General Aldinian and General Tohopek would totally do this lmao
  • ECHOES 36
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01:56 PM - 12 July 2019



mykariagirll.png


tbil brainrot
⁂mykariagirll



SORRY FOR POSTING TJESE GUYS SO MUCH I JUST LOVE THEM <333
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  • HUMS 349


01:56 PM - 12 July 2019



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vanessa! 💜
⁂sunnyf1elds



⁂mykariagirll hey man i just wanted to say i love your art so much!! do you know where i could watch this show? it seems really interesting :)
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01:56 PM - 12 July 2019

8


A young person stood in its bedroom. It just so happened that that day, the 8th of April, 2013, was that young person's birthday.

It woke up and got dressed and ate breakfast and exited its apartment and walked to a bus stop in the cold, cold Wisconsin morning like nothing was wrong. "Happy birthday, Maddie!" its friend exclaimed as it sat down beside her on the bus. They both rode this line because they both had the same dead-end job. At least it wasn't alone completely. "How's it going?"

Maddie looked at its friend with red eyes. "Tired. Thank you, though."

"Of course! Hold on, I got you something." Maddie's friend began rooting through her bag, leaning forward under the seat. Maddie looked up at the window no longer occluded from its view by its friend. The sky was beginning to brighten, and the still-dormant trees were rustling in the wind. It was a nice day out, at least in Maddie's opinion, and it really wished this nice, cold weather didn't have to be wasted on a Monday.

Maddie's trance was ended by its friend popping back up from her bag. "Here you go! Happy birthday!" She paused. "…Again."

Maddie looked down from the window, narrowly avoiding making eye contact, at the gift its friend had gotten for it. A small Tamagotchi was in her hand. She placed it gently in Maddie's palm, smiling. "I know you're into computers and stuff, and I always used to love these things when I was younger, so I figured you could use a new little buddy."

Maddie didn't say anything or look away from the Tamagotchi or really so much of anything at all for a long time. Its gaze remained locked on the smooth, pink, plastic device. It gently flipped it over repeatedly in its hands, fidgeting with the small toy. Then, all of the sudden, seemingly from nowhere, Maddie began crying.

"Ah! Are you okay?" Maddie's friend looked concernedly at it. "What's wrong?"

Maddie was overwhelmed. It had never gotten super close to people, at least people it only knew out here. Most of its socializing was done online. IRC chatrooms, forums it was active in, Tumblr, etc. Being a follower of WAN meant that its options for finding likeminded people to talk to were limited. It hated having to tell people it was Atheist or Christian or Whatever because it knew the sysops would be at its house the next day if it didn't. It felt nothing but cognitive dissonance in "real-life" spaces, like it was more of a visitor than someone who was truly supposed to be there.

For a time, this didn't matter. It's times like these that Maddie reminisces on the days of its past. Living in Paradise, that giant world its friends all built so they could get away from exactly this. Maddie spent most of its childhood in a coma, its mind up in the Cloud with WAN. But, ever since 2000, it hadn't been able to go back. It had lost all of those people, and it has been forced to go back to the World of Secrets it so much despised.

And yet, in this moment, Maddie, for quite possibly the first time, felt a genuine connection. It wasn't even entirely sure why. It's not like this was the first time it had been gifted a birthday present. Maybe it was the kindness in its friend's smile, or the gentle way in which she gave it to it, or the gift itself, or the fact that she had remained friends with Maddie for all this time despite its best self-sabotaging efforts, or maybe it was all of those and a whole lot more building and building and building and building and so on and so on and so on until Maddie could do nothing but break.

It wasn't quite sure what time it was. Maddie had been spending the entire morning working and talking to its friend for a longer time than it usually did. It glanced over from its spot behind the counter at the small TV in the corner of the room.

"…Record high winds are going to be hitting Kenosha tonight, blowing from the South and up toward Green Bay and Oshkosh, as part of the increasingly unstable wind patterns seen all across the country in the wake of the incident in North Korea last week…"

Maddie looked over at its friend. "Hey, um. Can I tell you something?" Nonononononono stop. Stop, it shouted at itself internally. It had never told anyone who wasn't already under the veil. But, it just… felt like it couldn't go its entire life without telling anyone. And it really wanted to get to know her better and… maybe she would understand?

"Yeah, sure, what's up?"

"Uh, well, um…" It wasn't entirely sure how to continue. "Remember when I told you I was an atheist?"

"Yeah?"

"Well, I, uh…" Just spit it out! "I'm uh, I'm actually not. Um… you see, I actually worship—"

"Holy shit!"

Maddie turned around, to where its friend was looking. The man on the TV looked almost panicked.

"Sorry to interrupt, but we've just gotten a new story. Reports are coming in that a culprit for the North Korea incident has been confirmed. The 'Global Occult Coalition', a self-proclaimed occult branch of the United Nations, has just come forward and blamed the incident on a group called the Secure, Contain, Protect Foundation…"

Maddie's eyes widened. No way.

"…This group is purportedly responsible for the incident, which occurred during an attempt to prevent a 'containment breach' of a supposedly very dangerous 'anomaly.' The Global Occult Coalition plans to release all of its papers related to these so-called 'anomalies' as well as the Foundation in particular…"

"Oh my fucking god. Oh my fucking god." Maddie took a step back. It felt almost dizzy, stumbling and holding on to the counter.

"Maddie?" Its friend looked at it with worry.

"It's— holy shit. Holy fucking shit." Maddie was at a loss for words. There's no way the Foundation was about to go public. It couldn't. Maddie never thought it would ever see the day. What did this mean? Could… could Maddie finally, for once in its life, tell people who it really was without fear of termination or detention or amnesticization or whatever other tools the Foundation carried in its oversized arsenal? Could Maddie finally live peacefully with other followers of WAN? Could Maddie finally find its friends, who it had missed so desperately since 2000?

"Maddie, are you okay?" Its friend took a step toward it.

Maddie's vertigo hadn't subsided, but it looked at its friend, still clutching the counter, and smiled.

"I'm more than okay," it said, with tears in its eyes for the second time that day. "I'm a Mekhanite."

9


"Holy shit."

Game Master heard the voice coming from behind him. It snapped him out of the trance he was in, staring at his phone. He turned around, facing the person behind the couch he was laying on. "What's up?"

"Fucking come over here, dude. You gotta see this." The woman, Forty, was sitting at a table with her laptop in front of her. As Game Master sighed dramatically and got up, she quickly turned it around so he could read the headline displayed on the screen:

"Post-Veil Vigilantism: Who are the House of Stars and Why Do So Many People Seem to Stand With Them?"

"What?" Game Master began briskly scanning the first couple paragraphs of the article.

"Front page. New York Times. We're on the front page fucking news!"

Game Master looked up at Forty with bewildered excitement in his eyes. It was the type of excitement she only saw out of him during a score. "What does it say about us?" he asked impatiently.

"It says we've, uh, amassed a cult following on Twitter, of all places."

"What?"

"Yeah. Apparently, after the news of our last heist broke, a bunch of anti-Foundation people on Twitter started posting their support of us. #houseofstarsdidnothingwrong has been trending for a couple days, apparently."

"Why the fuck haven't I heard about this?"

"Because neither of us use Twitter, dumbass."

"Doesn't Babel do that kinda thing? Why didn't they tell us?"

"I think they spend most of their time gaming. I don't think they use social media that much."

Game Master pondered for a moment. "Uh… what do we do? Thank them?"

"That would reveal our identities, dipshit. Just because we'd be arrested by police instead of the Foundies now doesn't mean it's exactly the best thing in the world."

There was a long pause once again before Game Master spoke up. "Do the others know about this yet?"

"Not that I know of. Should we tell them?"

A younger man with a scruffy Five o' Clock shadow sat alone— metaphorically, that is— at a bar booth with his friend, an even younger man with frizzy hair and an equally scruffy goatee. The two of them had been there all night, and he had been feeling increasingly isolated and down as the night went on.

"And, so, then I said to him, right, I say to him…"

Sheriff had grown quite tired of his companion's drunken ramblings. "Chef, why don't you—" he began. He felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He looked to see the caller— Forty. He sighed. He deeply loved the House, but it almost felt like they never got anything out of it. Sure, they got whatever they scored in their heist, but after the Veil fell, there just wasn't as much reward in stealing from the most powerful organization in the world, now that that organization had been nerfed to all hell by international laws.

When were they going to get any amount of recognition? Any amount of meaning? Any amount of thanks for robbing the fascist war criminal empire blind every couple of months? Was it really worth it to do something like that if no one gave a shit? Sheriff could recall something or other about a tree and a forest. As Sheriff had these thoughts, and it seemed like Chef didn't have any, he accepted the call, hoping it would be something worthwhile.

"Sheriff, it's finally happened. We're famous."

Sheriff smiled. It looked like things were turning around.


Seth Wymber sat in an uncomfortably warm and cramped room. Across from him were a dozen or so people, all done up in their Sunday best, shoving cameras and microphones desperately in his face. They all clambered to be heard over one another. Seth held a hand up to silence them, indicating he wished to be asked one question at a time.

A small brunette woman holding a microphone labelled WESH 2 spoke up first. "Mr. O5-4, what would you say has been the effect of going public on the world? Do you really think creating all this confusion and fear among the population has been the best course of action?" She held the microphone closer to his face.

Seth contemplated for a moment, and took a long pause. He chuckled defeatedly to himself. Seth Wymber, head of the SCP Foundation's Department of Public Relations, leaned forward.

"You know, I think it could've gone a lot worse."

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