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So, Slug sat there and started repeated a phone number at my Ooze sample, Or writing it down on a paper in front of it. I mean, the stuff wiggled occasionally, but it always does that. And then, low and behold, the burner phone the number belonged too went off and Slug was having a conversation with someone connected to the Ooze! Fairly certain it is the same Mage-Guy that Nick talked too before. Regardless, as soon as the conversation was over, I used Mimic to repeat it into a recorder, before I could forget any of the details.

Slug: "Hello?"

Caller: "Hello." The voice on the other end sounds male, certainly older. "Fascinating." A beat. "A dog with a cell phone. Will wonders never cease?"

Slug: "It's not that surprising. Cats are all over the internet," he replies, as if making polite banter with someone he knows.

Caller: There's breathing; slow and steady, but audible. Eventually, the voice speaks again, unhurried. "You should be careful about what you try to communicate with. But we're having a conversation now...what did you want to talk about?"

Slug: "I guess that depends on who I'm talking to. You share a link with the little guy in the jar, but that doesn't necessarily mean you're a part of it- Just that it's a part of you."

Caller: "It can think," the voice on the other end muses. "A dog that reasons. Very good, very good. You're confused about it. Little experiments, even literal guinea pigs, trying to scratch at your question. Have you found any answers?"

Slug: "I figured the spirit of the guinea pig would be the least likely to be pissed off at me in the long run for doing that, because of what it is. A few, but I'm still stumbling around in the dark like a drunk walking into the wrong apartment at 12 AM. I'm just one of those 'clawed children', trying his best not to make things worse."

Caller: A chuckle. "Tell me. Perhaps I can enlighten you."

Val: "A few. Many pieces, but having a hard time making them line up. I think a friend of mine talked with you, before. You were a Mage, yes? I'm not sure what the ooze is, but it is old. Part of an old dance. Reminds me of things in the Deep Umbra. Not that I've ever gone there, but I've seen a place where it bridges into another area. I went to Last Days, where the ooze was woke up. Seems almost a collective mind, having absorbed bits and pieces of those it consumed. Maybe that is why it seems to have a inclination towards infecting creatures of the Wyrm." A pause. "Negative Entropy resonance."

Slug: "Well. That's my lady friend. Hope you don't mind that she's sort of sitting in, she's smarter than I am. I think it's just a force of the universe, not good, or evil. It just is. It's the negative to positive, ying to yang, whatever. I just think that it isn't supposed to be here, but because it was brought here, or because it seeped through into this... Dimension, the physical world, it's going nuts- Like one of those invasive species. No natural predators. It's doing what it's supposed to do, but it's not supposed to be doing it /here/. I think it has a collective intelligence, or a hive mind. And I think it's just going after the Wyrm creatures because they're easier to take over, or because they pissed it off when they dug it up."

Caller: "Someone's been tutoring you. But no, no no no, no mind. No...thoughts. Only memories, and desire. Hungry memories. Hungry desires. It's too bad you didn't stop to visit, but the local wildlife is rather offputting. I do apologize, nothing I can do to help that. And the Warder is...somewhat singleminded. Ah, more than usual, that is. She's been here for a long time now. Part of the architecture."

Val: "That makes sense, honestly. Fits well with what I was thinking. Garou are creatures of emotion and desire, in many ways. They are warriors. Fighters and they know their 'enemies'. The Warder would remember her duty and that would be her greatest desire. Protect the Caern above all else, even with the state it is in right now. Magpie's Memory said we should speak with the one who awoke the Nothing. Was that you?"

Slug: "Well, I think we have a mutual friend. He's been helping me out, and... Someone else I know. Hum. I always assumed the goo had some kind of hive-mind or telepathy going on because of the way they moved in battle without saying or doing anything, some sort of collective consciousness that just fell over whatever vessel it took over. I didn't know it was possible to be 'infected' and survive, or that you could use your own will to influence the stuff. But I guess it makes sense." Slug's eye ticks back to Val. "Yeah. What she said. Me? I don't think it was you, but I think you know who did."

Caller: "Very good," the voice practically purrs. "You have the idea of it. She is very dutiful, the Warder. I believe it's the only thing she has left of herself. Impressive of her, considering that her last true decision was to violate that duty so...very completely. I'm glad you still have your mind, little bird." A period of silence several breaths long. "No, no it wasn't me. We are awake because the other is awake. Something woke it, but I could not tell you who. Or what." This breath is raspier. "Oh, yes. Very possible to survive, if you consider that survival. You have to live long enough not to be dragged down, down, down down into the mouth. Plenty manage. Some are resourceful. Some are simply too boring for the Echoes."

Val: "And if what I heard was true, her last decision was to see the Caern destroyed. Rather than see it Fall once again."

Slug: "It wasn't Carnage. Carnage was the idiot that broke the seal on the jar, but he didn't put it in the jar. Did it have to do with the nuclear project, or was it there before that even came to town? It likes energy. Gnosis and Wyld energy. Maybe the nuclear project made so much energy that it called the stuff across a void? I know that whatever consciousness is currently steering the Goo Wagon is doing something less-than-ideal at the nuclear plant."

Caller: "Ah--no, no no, don't do that." The voice still sounds calm and lacking in urgency. "You don't want to try that, boy. Mmmm. Carnage is not a name I'm familiar with. We are...old. The Not is very old, so...so very old now. It remembers dinosaurs and tiny proto-mammals we have no names for. It remembers creation and destruction. It was here...they were both here. Ahh. But no, no. The Manhattan Project didn't create it, didn't draw it from somewhere else. And yet they built the Manhattan Project here. Entropy is a funny thing. Coincidences that bunch up in appropriate ways. Like this person you refer to, this odd person. Things go away, and inevitably return. Round and round we go. The Caern is old too, you know. Not quite as old, but close. No one quite understood it after the old ones were driven away. Their stupid brethren could never understand what they had, you see. And then the dogs fought and there were new owners, just as stupid as the last. The Warder...her...pack...they killed it. Killed their sacred place because they could not understand what they saw."

Slug: "Interesting, Carnage was the idiot that went poking around the Caern. The leader of the Spiral pack that set the juice loose. He thought it was a bane that was sealed away, but it wasn't. Surprise. I'm guessing by 'Old Ones' you mean the Natives, the first ones that were at the site- Or maybe... The scaled shifters? So, consciousness of willfull people influences the ooze, but it doesn't have an objective of it's own? Some of the ooze wants to go after Wyrm creatures, because the Warder is infected. Sort of. I've seen a Garou chilling out at the nuclear site, on the spiritual side, where it's all... Bad. Oh balls. It's taken over a few powerful Spirals, and a few really big Wyrm spirits. Maybe some of the stuff was influenced by the willpower of the Wyrm stuff it consumed."

Caller: "It has a will. No mind, but a will. That theory has merit but it's incorrect. The Warder wishes to protect the dead Caern. That does not contradict the Not's will. Desires? Desires is a clumsy word. Inadequate. She would also want, if she remembered that wants existed, to destroy the Not. And clearly, she is not trying to do that." A long pause. "Carnage is not a name I am familiar with. The ones that came here most recently, your...Black Spiral Dancers. They did not have that name. Hmm. To answer your question. A desire. A will. an...objective. The other one is waking up. It wakes when the other wakes. It wants to find it. Reach it. Touch it. Fight it. Consume it. If it has a desire, a purpose, that is what I know. Fight the other until it sleeps or dies."

Slug: "What you want most in your heart, what defines you. It strips you down to that, and lets you do that, so long as it doesn't get in the way of what it wants- So it can use you as it's vessel like some sort of symbiotic... Thing. Fighting the Wyrm helps it spread and consume energy, so it's OK with that. The Weaver-ants it took over at the nuclear plant want to build, so it has them working on a task. Spirals want to fight Garou, spirits, and everything else, so a lot of them make good hosts to take over. I suggested a way to fight it, or contain it, or put it back to sleep. Magpie seemed to like that. But she also said we do need to talk to the original maker, or the person that brought it here, anyways. I'm guessing she didn't literally mean 'Go talk to Gaia', so... Maybe one of those other ones you were talking about. The original ones. Old ones. Are any of them on this party line? Can I reach out to them?"

Caller: "If you can hold onto that," the voice says. "It seems quite rare." And then there's laughter. "Ah, do you think you're speaking to a ghost? No, none of those. I can tell you that we became more awake, more aware, when the dogs destroyed their Caern. But only truly active when the other started to wake up. Never fully inactive. It takes a few here and there. Gone missing in the night. Once...one of the ones it took went missing in the night. Still had her mind then. It would have eaten her eventually if she lived, I'm sure. But you want to put it to sleep again. It would become more sluggish, sleepy perhaps, if the other slept. Stop reaching out so much. Stop actively hunting."

Slug: "I just assumed you were some kind of consciousness piggy-backing on the ooze because the ooze is kind of flexible when it comes to time and space. Or maybe you're unique because of what you are, and you've managed to... Ascend past life and death, in the way most people think about it. Magpie cautioned against waking up the 'other' half of the Not- Are you saying that it's *already* awake, or that a piece of it is out and strolling around?"

Caller: "Awake," the voice rasps. "Waking. The other is a slow old god, so large I can only see a little of it. No friend of yours, no. It brought things to you. No, no, that is inaccurate. It does not...bring anything. It /is/. When it breathes, things grow. When it shifts, the world trembles. When its eyelids flutter, jungles spring up and insects arrive to feast on its nectar. When it wakes...when it sits up to take a look around, mountains explode and are recreated. The ground opens. Cities are swallowed. A tiny breath saved your little ritual, do you remember? A tiny tiny breath that reduced a monster to particles and less. As for me. Unique. Yes. I would like you to visit me. You and your friends. Visit me. Visit me here."

Slug: "And if it was back asleep, then it's other half might also go back to sleep. Hell, I'd like to come talk to you. I'm sure some other people would, too. It's just that you live in a really bad neighborhood, and we're all afraid of getting mugged."

Caller: The voice chuckles. "Yes. Such a problem. I trust you might solve it for me. I would like that very much. But talking to you...arranging my thoughts to talk to you...very tiring. Do you have other questions?"

Slug: "I'm sure I'll have some, but... I've got to consult with someone smarter than me, first. Is there a way I'll be able to contact you again, or arrange a way for us to talk again? And since I used the Not as a conduit to get your attention, does that mean I also got the attention of *other* things attached to the goo?"

Caller: "Oh yes," the voice says. "But you already have their attention. I suggest being careful. And...keep this phone. Yes. Keep it handy. Maybe I will use it again."

Slug: "Well... Yeah. We do. On the off chance I manage to lose the phone, or something bad happens, I'll try to send a message through a different channel. Take care. I'd love to talk again."

Caller: "Indeed. So very few avenues of conversation these days."
Okay. Okay. I think I got all of that. Man, I'm tired and my head hurts. Gonna. Gonna go lay down. 



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