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A Bug of a Different Color
Artist

Image Credits: Photo by Jens Lindner on Unsplash

Player: RaneyDay
Date of Birth: March 14, 1987
Pronouns: His/Him
Height: 5'8"
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27 Posts
4 Threads

#1
Preston had called ahead to make an appointment.

The showered, shaved man in his smart dove-grey vest, smart grey pants and crisp white shirt with-- well, with blue paint staining the cuffs, but it was still well-starched and lily white besides that-- bore little resemblance to the dirt-streaked, frantic man who had scrambled out of the maze as the sun had peeked over the horizon that morning.

Indeed, he had put extra effort into pulling himself together for the sake of his own sanity. Though if  I were really guarding that altogether well, would I even be here?

He had the messenger bag with him, olive green and a little out of place as his artist bag always was, when held up against the way he preferred to dress. He paused to adjust it on his shoulder, and then knocked thrice on the office door of one Dr. Janet Rivers. People surely dropped by to ask about various creatures they found all the time, right? This was nothing unusual. It would be fine. He'd learn these things pooped hallucinogens or some such, and then it would all make sense, even down to the dream. Some dragonfly variety in his house, landing on his nose in the dead of night, shitting madness onto his face. 

The image was, of course, disgusting, but somehow less disturbing than the things he'd seen in the night.
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Scientist

Player: Featherstone
Date of Birth: May 7th 1982
Pronouns: She/Her
Height: 5'8
Plotter: Link
Characters:

33 Posts
4 Threads

#2
Her life had changed. Her life used to be classes, field research, congresses, papers and papers to submit. The occasional public conference - talking about the local fauna and environment to a plethora of partially curious laypeople and their offspring - had made her a less completely obscure stranger, to the people of Sandsbridge, but that was it.

After that day, however, her niche had become unusually interesting for a few people who, normally, wouldn't have even cared how to spell ‘entomology’. Which was ironic, since, after that very same sequence of events, her opportunities to study her Aeshna Persuasoria for properly academic purposes had been brutally curtailed.

And now here he was, another stranger - not a student, she had checked - asking for an appointment.

Good morning”. She offered a hand to her visitor; quickly observing his features, his outfit, and, of course, learning nothing conclusive from it, except that he had some close contact with coloring substances. People, unlike insects, were hard study cases. “I'm Dr. Rivers, nice to meet you”.

The times she'd been mistaken for someone else - a janitor, her own secretary, an intruder who crept in in the night - technically amounted to zero. Which could mean that her habit to volunteer her credentials was either unnecessary, or actually very effective (there was some logical space for both statements to be true, but that was beside the point).

She let him in; into the cramped orderliness of her office. Waiting to hear whatever question had brought him there.
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Artist

Image Credits: Photo by Jens Lindner on Unsplash

Player: RaneyDay
Date of Birth: March 14, 1987
Pronouns: His/Him
Height: 5'8"
Plotter:
Characters:

27 Posts
4 Threads

#3
"Preston Bayweather," said Preston, with his customary affability. He took her hand. He even smiled. It was quick, friendly, a smile that lit up his whole face. He had a warm, gentle shake, not limp, but gentle. "Thank you for agreeing to see me."

He stepped into the orderly space and smoothed down his vest in an attempt to clear his head and soothe his nerves. He remained standing, and would, at least, until she sat down, if she even did. He hesitated, wondering how to start, before he finally brought out his samples and put them down on her desk.

"I found these while I was out working on a project. Rather stuck onto something I was trying to take a rubbing of," he explains. "Well, save for this fellow in the second jar, with all the dirt. He was stuck in the dirt. I was--"

He cast about for a good explanation of why he had bothered to scoop up a dead dragonfly from the dirt, or why he had been scooping up dirt at all. He settled on: "Gardening." 

And then he rushed ahead. He did have a small rose garden at home, as a matter of fact, a few things out in the front to greet visitors. And anyway, rushing ahead would let him get to the question he'd come here to answer. "Dr. Rivers, do these dragonflies have any, er, unusual sorts of qualities worthy of a mention?" 
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Scientist

Player: Featherstone
Date of Birth: May 7th 1982
Pronouns: She/Her
Height: 5'8
Plotter: Link
Characters:

33 Posts
4 Threads

#4
What was he hesitating about? She took a seat, with a nod she invited him to do the same. Uncomfortable about something? Admittedly, she wasn't the best at reading people - so, if one's discomfort was so palpable to her, odds were something serious was going on.

Not entirely a surprise, then, when he brought out a few specimina of Aeshna Persuasoria.

It was silly, of course. It was just something that required more research. There was nothing unnatural about those dragonflies; nature, indeed, could be disturbing enough from an anthropocentric point of view, and the Aeshna Persuasoria wasn't any worse, in that regard, than the Leucochloridium Paradoxum, for instance, or the Ichneumonidae.

Which didn't explain, however, why a man found a few dead dragonflies and ran to the closest expert asking for information.

On unusual qualities. Okay, right.

Well, they do have what we can call some unusual qualities, if compared to other dragonflies”. There was something in his story that didn't feel right, but what? “Their flight, life cycle, and predatory habits all have aspects that still baffle and fascinate science… but may I ask what peculiarities you've noticed, before I talk all day about one of my favorite topics?”. Now smile. She smiled. Not sure the timing was right. Hopefully it was.
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Artist

Image Credits: Photo by Jens Lindner on Unsplash

Player: RaneyDay
Date of Birth: March 14, 1987
Pronouns: His/Him
Height: 5'8"
Plotter:
Characters:

27 Posts
4 Threads

#5
He shouldn't have led in with 'unusual qualities.'

Because Dr. Rivers was asking a great question. A fair question. Preston took the time to sit down as he cast about for how to answer it. He settled on answering the question with a question. Not entirely polite, that, and it would probably make him look terribly odd.

"Are they common to the area? I never noticed them before. Please, tell me about them."

I always look terribly odd, to everyone. Who cares as long as it gets her talking? Surely if they make people hallucinate she'll drop that in with mating habits and flight patterns, right? 

He folded his hands in his lap, hoping to appear genteel and not at all threatening. Not at all crazy, just a man with a sudden interest in bugs. Totally normal, completely understandable. Who didn't love bugs, after all? Except...mostly everyone?
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Scientist

Player: Featherstone
Date of Birth: May 7th 1982
Pronouns: She/Her
Height: 5'8
Plotter: Link
Characters:

33 Posts
4 Threads

#6
Backpedaling? Sure he was backpedaling. The question was: why? Any connection to the case? That was ridiculous.

They're endemic to this area,actually. The Aeshna Persuasoria - this their name - only thrives in the marshy lands of this region, and most of their population is precisely in the territory of Sabdsbridge. I reckon your garden is close to stagnant water, by the way - they rarely venture far from their habitat”. In fact, she'd never seen them in town - were there houses close to the marsh? Gardens?

As for their peculiarities, where to start?Possibly, not from the one phenomenon I'm not even close to explain. “They're the only known poisonous dragonflies; a poison that's only mildly irritating to humans - that they rarely attack, anyway - but strong enough to paralyze preys much larger than themselves. Fish, small rodents… Even more fascinating is they way they lure, them, however: the sound they produce, in fact, seems to have an effect on the neural pathways of their preys; a mechanism to which their name is due, and for which we have only tentative explanation…

She could have continued forever; despite everything, there was something comforting in talking about her area of expertise. Which did not mean it was what her visitor was looking for.

But - may I ask why they impressed you so much, Mr. Bayweather? People don't drop by every time they find an insect in their garden, no matter how fascinating”. Was that too off-putting? Then one complained her field wasn't all that popular at fancy dinners - or wherever you went to measure popularity. “I mean - your question is absolutely legit, however I could help you more if I had some context”.

Well, maybe he literally wanted a long-winded rant of dragonfly biology, just because he'd got some dead ones in his rose garden near the marsh. In which case, she'd have been happy to comply.
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Artist

Image Credits: Photo by Jens Lindner on Unsplash

Player: RaneyDay
Date of Birth: March 14, 1987
Pronouns: His/Him
Height: 5'8"
Plotter:
Characters:

27 Posts
4 Threads

#7
"Poison," Bayweather replied, with what seemed to be...obvious relief?

There. See? A perfectly legitimate explanation. 

"Have humans ever had a bad reaction to their bite? Something which might cause vivid dreams, say?" He was hardly going to admit to the waking hallucination, but one rather implied the other. "If not, do you think there are varieties which might have developed a more aggressive poison?"

So pleased was he by this most rational of explanations that he even offered another smile. And some more information. He relaxed almost instantly in fact. It was funny! He'd gotten all worked up and it had just been some strange dragonfly poison. "Actually those three I found at the old bridge. That's where I was taking my rubbings," he admits. If this poison theory bore out, he might even admit to the other location. For science! Huzzah, science!

A creeping thought at the back of his mind did its very best to undermine his elation. A variety of dragonfly that only exists here? That's strange. Out of their natural habitat. Also strange. 

His more rational brain asserted itself. No, listen, this makes perfect sense. All our strange and colorful legends. They were probably all brought on by dragonfly poison. Like ergot in Salem.

It occurred to him that he should maybe leave before he heard anything which might contradict his comforting new theory. But deep inside him there was a stubbornness that prevented it. It was the impulse that had him taking samples and making appointments to begin with. An impulse to know the truth. If science bore out the truth, then that was that, and he could go about his life, perhaps after asking this woman how to concoct a poison dragonfly repellent. But if not...

If not, he knew he'd keep searching. His mind slid away from that as he forced his attention back onto Dr. Janet Rivers. It was too terrifying to contemplate for long, even in the light of day.
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Scientist

Player: Featherstone
Date of Birth: May 7th 1982
Pronouns: She/Her
Height: 5'8
Plotter: Link
Characters:

33 Posts
4 Threads

#8
Poison. If he'd been bit, it was a strange way to put it. Asking for an appointment to her, instead of a physician, fit that scenario even more poorly.

No hallucinations, not as far as we know. The poison primarily affects motor functions, causing spasms and paralysis in smaller vertebrates”. And spasms in dead bodies too, but he didn't need to know that. “In humans, a bite will cause a painful rash and temporary paraesthesias - not hallucinations. Also, dragonflies only bite humans if threatened - that is to say, if you grab a living one without knowing how to handle it”. She looked at her hand, reflexively. She knew something about it.

Have you been bit? If that's the case, you probably don't need to worry, but you should see your doctor anyway”.

She had no idea what he meant with his “rubbings", the old bridge, however, didn't sound like good spot to find dragonflies. Was he looking for drugs? For a new way to produce drugs? The thought brought uncomfortable memories, which included the reason she'd gone for biology instead of chemistry. She decided to be more charitable, just as a matter of principle.
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Artist

Image Credits: Photo by Jens Lindner on Unsplash

Player: RaneyDay
Date of Birth: March 14, 1987
Pronouns: His/Him
Height: 5'8"
Plotter:
Characters:

27 Posts
4 Threads

#9
It took every ounce of willpower Preston Bayweather had not to slump back in that chair as his easy answer evaporated in just a few of her short words. He exhaled sharply. His face had gone a little pale as she'd continued with her explanation, and his eyes had tightened. He was no master of hiding his expressions. His face was an open one, broadcasting emotions. 

Disappointment.

And fear.

"No," he replied. "No, I haven't been bitten. To my knowledge, the only ones I grabbed were those dead ones."

He stood up. "Well. Thank you for the time, Dr. Rivers. I've no more use for those samples, if you would like to keep them."

He didn't turn to go right away, of course, waiting for her acknowledgment, but he did heft up the messenger bag.  
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Scientist

Player: Featherstone
Date of Birth: May 7th 1982
Pronouns: She/Her
Height: 5'8
Plotter: Link
Characters:

33 Posts
4 Threads

#10
So that was it. Weird. And over. It was over.

Wait".

She spoke calmly, matter-of-fact.

She had something else to ask him. Not sure how to put it, however - not without rambling even worse than he'd just done.

But he'd seen something, or he had something in mind. He had thoughts, experience, knowledge on the subject of her research, a research she could not pursue just when she had got a glimpse of something unexpected, unexplained - which meant, in dire need of more research. Maybe he was crazy, or looking for drugs, or joking. But if there was any chance he had some sort of relevant information, then she needed his help. How to ask, though?
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Artist

Image Credits: Photo by Jens Lindner on Unsplash

Player: RaneyDay
Date of Birth: March 14, 1987
Pronouns: His/Him
Height: 5'8"
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27 Posts
4 Threads

#11
Preston thought about fleeing in a flurry of polite demurrals. 

But something stopped him. In that moment, he couldn't say what, precisely. He looked down, his fingers tightening on the strap of his bag until his knuckles were visibly white. Then he exhaled and turned to look at her, putting on a smile. And if it had a distinctly weary and still-fearful quality to it, he was nevertheless trying to put her at her ease, and that much was clear too.

He opened his mouth as if to ask her why, but no sound came out. He just waited, let her have her say.
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Scientist

Player: Featherstone
Date of Birth: May 7th 1982
Pronouns: She/Her
Height: 5'8
Plotter: Link
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33 Posts
4 Threads

#12
He was still there. Good? Or not so much? She was committed, at that point.

I... Well... As it happens, these dragonflies have been the object of my special attention in the last few years, and I must say - there are things we still don't understand".

She had already said that, it didn't mean so much - any topic worth studying was, in fact, only partially understood. That case, however, was different.

I am interested in what isn't explained, yet. So if you think you had any unusual experiences concerning these dragonflies? I'd like to hear more about that. Sorry if it came across the wrong way - the least thing I want is to hide behind 'the good book says', even when the good book is Imms' General Textbook of Entomology - or my own writings".

Oh, you'd love to hide behind those books. But that'd be poor science.

So - anything else I should know?"
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Artist

Image Credits: Photo by Jens Lindner on Unsplash

Player: RaneyDay
Date of Birth: March 14, 1987
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Height: 5'8"
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27 Posts
4 Threads

#13
Some of the tension eased in his face. There was still a chance this was science. Not his own inherent delusion or madness. And not...Something Else.


"Maybe," he said, slowly. "I'm honestly not really sure."

He peered at her, trying to find something in her face which indicated he could trust her. But faces couldn't betray that. He'd just have to take a chance.

"I had a vivid, disturbing night time dream," he says slowly. "I went out for a bit in response. Then, I had a-- a strange experience, while I was out. Hallucinations. I found these dragonflies at both of the places I visited. I wasn't gardening," he gestures back to the dragonfly in the jar of dirt. "I just-- didn't want to sound insane. I thought maybe one of them landed on me, secreted something...you see what I'm getting at?" 
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Scientist

Player: Featherstone
Date of Birth: May 7th 1982
Pronouns: She/Her
Height: 5'8
Plotter: Link
Characters:

33 Posts
4 Threads

#14
A dream. Not good. However, you had to think out of the box, to move any closer to Truth. Ignoring the inexplicable, or hammering it into the shape of one's expectations, was ideology, not science.

I must admit it rings no bell".

And maybe he was crazy. He didn't sound crazy, however. Overexcited. Driven by an excess of imagination, perhaps. Not really crazy.

There are, however, ways in which they seem to influence thought, behavior - it only affects smaller animals, nevertheless it's fascinating enough, and currently an enigma to science".

Did that have anything to do with his dream? With anything he'd said?

You said you found them in two places. One was the old bridge - what was the other one?"
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Artist

Image Credits: Photo by Jens Lindner on Unsplash

Player: RaneyDay
Date of Birth: March 14, 1987
Pronouns: His/Him
Height: 5'8"
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27 Posts
4 Threads

#15
Preston sighed.

He'd have to tell her the truth now, but he didn't want to. "The maze."

He shrugs. "I know how it sounds," he added. "But that's where I found them. Correlation is not causation though. Perhaps it has nothing to do with dragonflies at all, and I am merely wasting your time. I suppose it's possible there was something in my dinner or...something."

He certainly didn't feel excited, and wasn't trying to act it. Agitated, maybe, but he was trying to keep that muted. He was tired, and discouraged, and honestly a little bit frightened. He tried to let none of it show, however, trying to remain professional and in control. But of course, he did have an active imagination just by virtue of his own profession, and creative types could tend to have vivid dreams. Having a really spooky one and reacting strangely to it for a day or so wasn't too far outside the realm of possibility.
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Scientist

Player: Featherstone
Date of Birth: May 7th 1982
Pronouns: She/Her
Height: 5'8
Plotter: Link
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33 Posts
4 Threads

#16
Seeing a physician wouldn't be s bad idea, especially if you're experiencing other symptoms, and yes, it could be easily a coincidence. However, it's a fact that the two places where you found the dragonflies aren't their typical area - as I think I said, they rarely leave the marsh"

Hypotheses. More like wild guesses, actually.

Let's say someone brought them there. The same person could have been involved in... in some sort of shady activity, I guess. I mean, I think we all know the marsh is now a crime scene".

She frowned. It made little sense. The facts, however, meant little sense anyway.

There are scenarios that come to mind, although they're all overly complicated, and pose more questions than they answer".

Also, she'd been already told she was not the police. No reason to investigate on issues she wasn't competent for.

Have you noticed any strange activity, anyway? In the places you've mentioned, I mean?"

Well, she was no police, but she wasn't good at ignoring questions, either.
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Artist

Image Credits: Photo by Jens Lindner on Unsplash

Player: RaneyDay
Date of Birth: March 14, 1987
Pronouns: His/Him
Height: 5'8"
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27 Posts
4 Threads

#17
The crime scene bit was actually news to Preston, who didn't much keep up with the...well. News. He looked taken aback, and the more she talked the weirder the conversation got. "No, nothing like that," he said, quite truthfully. The conversation had just taken another strange left turn, and he found himself struggling to keep up.


It did little to ease him, this drift off into true crime. It added new dimensions he could barely think about. "In any event, perhaps dragonflies out of their natural habitat alone will prove to offer a fascinating new arena of study for you." 

Maybe your criminal was in both places too, Preston thought, but damned if he wanted to offer that hypothesis. He had enough on his plate without being implicated in some dastardly deed. No, he'd just stick to being the man who needed to see a doctor. Something he decided right here and now he wasn't going to do. A responsible doctor would probably try to put him on some sort of anti-psychotic if he said anything honest to the fellow. He'd already said too much to Rivers.

No, he was going to take a nap when this conversation was done, and maybe look up Knossos after that, just to satisfy his own curiosity. Then, maybe, he'd go paint, and try to put all this behind him for a bit. Or forever, if he could.
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Scientist

Player: Featherstone
Date of Birth: May 7th 1982
Pronouns: She/Her
Height: 5'8
Plotter: Link
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33 Posts
4 Threads

#18
Fascinating new area? “Or just a chance to study them at all, since their favorite place has been off limits for a while".

One shouldn't worry about dragonflies when a killer was around - except she did, she cared about dragonflies while a killer was around.

Besides, they had something to do with the murder case; that was what allowed her to study them, although under a different light. But that was a different matter, not one she was too comfortable thinking about.
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Artist

Image Credits: Photo by Jens Lindner on Unsplash

Player: RaneyDay
Date of Birth: March 14, 1987
Pronouns: His/Him
Height: 5'8"
Plotter:
Characters:

27 Posts
4 Threads

#19
"Well, then, Madame," Preston said, giving a bit of a bow, smiling. "I am pleased I could be of service in this regard at least." He certainly had no judgment that she cared about the source of her life's work. She was allowed, it seemed, to have whatever reaction she deemed necessary to having her workplace turned into a crime scene. She'd just taken his revelations rather well, honestly, and he was prepared to count the meeting a success.

"In any event, I shall get out of your hair. It was a pleasure meeting you today, Dr. Rivers."

He didn't physically leave yet, opting instead to stick out his hand and offer it for another shake.
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Scientist

Player: Featherstone
Date of Birth: May 7th 1982
Pronouns: She/Her
Height: 5'8
Plotter: Link
Characters:

33 Posts
4 Threads

#20
She shook his hand, what else? “My pleasure". What else? If only she could find that missing piece, whatever that was... “If you need any other information pertaining my field, you can count on me. Meanwhile, take care of yourself". Because, that was it. Divided between two equally wrong temptations - finding a shelter behind her most familiar beliefs; running after anything that elicited her interest - she had little else to say to her visitor. More research was needed, but not there.
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