Drone in place. Sensors are green. Readings stable.
ROGER, MOBILE STATION. CONFIRMATION TO DRILL.
Confirmation received. Drilling now. We’re getting more resistance than expected. Estimated Mohs coming in high.
ROGER, MOBILE STATION. READ YOUR SEISMOLOGY.
We’re running zero.
ROGER; YOU ARE CONFIRMED TO PROCEED SO LONG AS READINGS ARE STABLE.
Drone is progressing into the object. Drill is optimal.
Drill has entered the object. Repeat. Object is hollow; gas present. Possibly air, reading nontoxic. We have minimal spatial distortion. Tether is holding steady. Zero pull.
ROGER THAT. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION.
Activating pulley; lowering drone.
We have slack on the tether. Drone is on level footing. Descent depth approximately 39 meters. Activating low-light vision.
ROGER. DO YOU HAVE VISUAL OF INSIDE THE OBJECT?
Yes. Low-light is returning images of a building at the approximate center of the object.
PLEASE REPEAT MOBILE STATION, DID YOU SAY “BUILDING”?
Affirmative. Two-story, residential appearance, at least one tree on either side. Ground is soil, plant, dead plant. Likely grass. The entire interior has the appearance of a residential building plot. Building, tree, lawn. All plant life is dead, building is in disrepair… Are you receiving this central command?
NEGATIVE. IMAGES ARE STILL IN INFOHAZARD PROTECTION. STANDBY.
IMAGES RECEIVED. WE CAN CONFIRM THAT DESCRIPTION MOBILE CONTROL
Roger. Drone to proceed clockwise around the structure.
PROCEED AT YOUR DISCRETION
Drone is proceeding without difficulty. Rear left area of the house severely damaged. Initial impressions are of an explosion; burn marks are present, wall is in pieces… We have visual on inside the building. Room contains remnants of a couch, cabinet, household furniture. Geometry is stable. Room contains a structure in the approximate center.
PLEASE ELABORATE MOBILE STATION
Structure appears to be a statue, black. Possibly made of obsidian, stone. Statue depicts two humanoids, one average height, male, the other about half height, likely a child. Man holds a stone tablet, child appears to have been depicted falling backwards.
DESCRIPTION RECIEVED. PLEASE CONTINUE WHILE IMAGES ARE PROCESSING
The surface of the structure is smooth, not clearly deteriorated or dirty. Stone slab is of a different material, apparently just stone. Engraving is visible; it is written in English.
YOU HAVE CONFIRMATION TO REPEAT TEXT: ANTI-HAZARDS ARE FUNCTIONING NORMALLY
Roger. Repeating text: "[DATA EXPUNGED]"
HAVE YOU DETECTED ANY OTHER ABNORMALITIES
No, Central Control. Readings are stable.
Do we have confirmation to continue exploring the anomaly?
NEGATIVE, MOBILE CONTROL, INITIATE A FULL EXTRACTION
Roger Central Control. Drone is moving for extraction. Pulley is prepped. Removal initiated. Pull is solid, no interference, should reach surface in T-1 minute.
ROGER, OVER AND OUT
Agent Carter sat in stunned silence. "And?! What?"
Agent Henderson was slightly confused. "What?"
"I'm not getting this."
Agent Carter compulsively pulled his hair back. "Everything about it is wrong!"
Agent Henderson stood up from the computer monitor. "Well okay, it's not strictly by the book, but what do you suggest?"
Carter paused, almost as if for effect. "It's twenty-fourty-six."
Henderson paused. "What?"
"I mean, twenty-four-fourty-six. It's the corpse thing! The reality bender!"
Henderson put his fingers to his lips, processing this information. "We don't know that it's a reality bender."
"It's so obviously a reality bender!"
Henderson raised a finger. "There is nothing connecting these two cases, except the location."
"Oh, no yeah, totally. Something spontaneously appears in San Jose, without warning or alert, inside of the ground. It's connected."
"Underneath San Jose."
"Underneath San Jose, yes."
"Also, based on the description, it was hollow. 2446 manifests inside matter without moving it. They're completely different appearances."
"He could have moved all the dirt and then transported the sphere."
"So you're suggesting the 'reality bender' we don't know exists did this for… Why?"
Carter was silent. "I don't know, but it could be anything, and that statue and that house definitely have to do with why."
"It kind of has to."
"It has to!"
"Look," Henderson put a hand on Carter's shoulder. "I very much appreciate you looking into potentially connected anomalies, but you're going to go mad looking for connections that aren't there. What does the format of the document even have to do with this? Do you think the reality bender took over central?"
"Halfway through they stop ending with punctuation. I've submitted elaboration requests on these docs, but they've been rejected. We still don't even know what twenty-four-fourty-six is!"
"We know what it is."
"No, we don't. We don't know what the bodies are, but the containment procedures have something to do with us!"
"Is it a conspiracy?"
Carter was taken aback. "I mean… It has to be. There has to be more here, more that we aren't privy to. We haven't been told anything."
"We're being told what we need to know. I'm sure we'll be briefed on 2446 when we need to be. I'll put in my own request on this doc, but for the time being, just don't worry about it."
Carter sighed. "Okay. I'll try to put it out of my mind."
"Thank you. Now, go work."
Carter stepped out of his superior's office. He looked back before leaving around a corner in the hall.
Henderson was disappointed in himself. Sitting behind him was the topic of his previous conversation. "That's very upstanding of you, agent. Sparing his feelings."
"Please… Don't talk to me, now."
"Tut tut tut, how very unladylike."
Henderson closed his eyes. Every time they talked, he felt ashamed. "What did you have to do with that record?"
Henderson gritted his teeth. "It kind of does matter."
"Don't worry about it. I just… Gave a little hand, in the record keeping."
"Why are you here now?"
"What? I can't stop by one of my very best friends?"
Henderson wanted to bite someone's nose off. "Who was it that said we don't negotiate with terrorists?"
"You always say that."
Henderson turned around. "I've never said that before."
Charles Hull leaned forward and smiled. "You always say that."
Then he was gone. Henderson sat down and tried to forget.