Five Days In Capital, Three Of Which We Spent As Lizards

 
DAY 1
“Anderson…Pereo.”
The receptionist got as far as Anderson on the clearance form then gave me yet another blank look. “For fuck’s…P-E-R-ya know what? Just give me the fucking keyboard”.
This was annoying for me on several levels. First up, arriving at IBG HQ and finding out that my security card had not been given the proper clearance was a tad inconvenient. Being dealt with by a receptionist who appeared to have zero skills in anything other than looking gormless was slightly frustrating too. The fact that these two things had somehow stripped away my normally docile and calm veneer was an altogether new level of annoyance and the more that that sunk in, the more it wound me up. And so the cycle continued.
I think that my somewhat dire mood boiled down to being removed from Vespen. While I accept that City Reps work on a rota’d basis, I was actually enjoying my time working there. It’s not even that I don’t enjoy being back in Capital or that I think I’ll dislike my next posting, it’s just that the last year was particularly good for me. I overcame a lot of personal demons down there and doused a lot of burning bridges for the IBG. The only real plus of being recalled so early is that Vespen is historically where Reps are sent to develop their skills enough to work in bigger cities and take on bigger responsibilities. To be recalled after only a year is unheard of.
Even so, I was going to need a little time to adjust. What I didn’t need was to be stuck at the front desk. So, after authorising myself I proceeded to find my way to my new desk and let the day slowly melt away around me. The monotony of the overcrowded office was really nothing more than bad background music.
Finally, the day ended and I returned to my temporary accommodation in the IBG owned block of flats a couple of streets away from the office. One long, scalding hot shower later and I was beginning to feel like my old self again, albeit with slightly less skin. In fact, in many ways I was looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. So I did what anyone would do if they were me at that exact moment in time. I dried my hair and went to bed.
 
DAY 2
                Despite waking a full hour before my alarm, I felt generally refreshed come the morning. A quick stretch and off I went to shower. I’ve always found it odd that I produce so much sweat overnight. It just feels unnatural to sweat through scales and I’m really not sure how it works. But what can you do?
                After the usual rigmarole of trying to sufficiently dry the top end of my tail, I slipped into my normal office wear and made my way to HQ. Having not quite forgiven the receptionist for yesterday, I kept the exchange of pleasantries as short as possible and wondered back to my desk.
                If this all sounds terribly dull, it’s because it is dull. Quite frankly, unless you’re in your assigned city this job role is nothing short of monotonous. I did at least get to hear the gossip about the apparent fluctuation last night though. Apparently, it hit pretty much the entire Winterlands shortly after I drifted off. What seemed to be confusing people was that there was no evidence of it stemming from the Central Anomaly. Truth be told, nothing had come from that thing since the arrival of Mother last month.
                Maybe I’m just cynical but it all sounded like some sort of mass delusion to me. I dunno, maybe there was some sort of hallucinogen in the air again. It really wouldn’t surprise me if the science guys had cocked something up and released something they didn’t understand.
Anyway, my day ended with the mild excitement of accidentally flushing my security card down the toilet and having to complete the necessary paperwork to allow me to collect a replacement in the morning. Non-stop fun in this place, eh?
Back at the flat I went through my evening routine of food, reading, shower and bed. It’s strange, but I do wonder what having hair would be like. I would imagine that drying it is a fairly mundane task but it surely can’t be as bothersome as my own night-time issues. I mean, our bodies are not that different in shape to that of a Winterborn, but the addition of a tail makes it rather difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. It’s strange though, I’m certain I must end up in the same position every night yet somehow I don’t remember what it is. It’s like the only natural position for my race to sleep in isn’t natural to me at all.
Weird.
 
DAY 3
                Well this is just unbelievable. My new security card is waiting for me at the front desk but it isn’t me in the picture. It isn’t even a photo of another Falcerta, it’s some random Winterborn guy. Of course, there was a lot of apologising from our wonderfully hapless receptionist, despite this one not strictly being her fault. On the plus side, this would mean a break from the norm for the day.
                Back at my desk, I was quickly informed that there may be a problem and that someone would be with me shortly. It turns out ‘someone being with me shortly’ actually meant that I would be called into an Office Reps office several hours later.
                The problem lay with my personnel file. For some inexplicable reason, it had been modified to show me as being a Winterborn. What was confusing everyone was that every version on file said exactly the same thing. They’d even gone through the ‘way back’ files on the WHG drives and found that everything here indicated that I was a completely different person. Just to complicate things further, there was no sign of the files having ever been changed other than to update the details of work I’d completed.
                Thankfully, the computers in Vespen held the correct details so they were taking steps to get my card sorted ASAP. Then came the kick. “There is something else  you should know Mr Pereo.” Why is it that whenever I hear something like that I immediately wonder what I’m about to be thrust into? Probably because it never leads to anything simple. In this case, I was informed that they did a number of spot checks on other files while they were checking mine and I didn’t seem to be an isolated case. Every Falcerta that they checked was showing up as the wrong species and showed no sign of the files being modified in such a way as to change those details.
                The upshot was that they wanted me to help check a few things in an effort to sort out the mess. Now, I’m not a fan of dealing with computer issues but I figured it would at least give me a chance to do something other than being bored all day, so I leapt at the opportunity. Being given free rein to search as I wished was a nice little perk too.
                With my tail swinging happily behind me (and nearly tripping several co-workers), I trotted off down the hallway to find the WormHole Generator team and speak about any recent data issues. As it happens, there weren’t any. Not really anyway. The night of the alleged fluctuation, there was a minor power surge and the systems went offline briefly but things were back up and running relatively quickly and there were no signs of corruption in the files. Even so, I took some hard copies of my non-restricted files from both the main database and the Vespen duplicates so that I could compare them back at the flat.
I also took some historical files about the Falcerta race. Mostly, I just wanted to see if my sleeping problems were fairly common.
                Reading the files revealed nothing.
 
DAY 4
                Or so I thought.
                It hit me while I was walking to the office. The historical files didn’t mention a date of appearance for my race. In fact, they seemed to indicate that we’d always been here, which was fundamentally wrong. Originally, the Winterborn were the only bipedal species in The Winterlands. That much is fact. Then the Animae appeared after a fluctuation, making them the second. What that means is that the Falcerta should have appeared sometime after that. Given that the Animae appeared in my lifetime, this made no sense whatsoever.
                The Office Rep from yesterday listened to my ramblings and decided that we should meet with Mother to see if she could shed any light on things. As per protocol, we went together. Mother communicates with something she calls telepathy. In order for this to be recorded for audio transcripts, it is insisted that she speak to two IBG representatives at once: the intended second person in the conversation and a proxy. The proxy would repeat her words and if they have received the same message, the intended second person will start their next sentence with the word ‘confirm’. Thus far, we’ve not needed to explore what would happen if she tried sending two different messages, or rather no one has confirmed that they received a different message.
                So what did this merry little romp with our resident embodiment of the land reveal then? Well, no real absolutes. Or at least, nothing I’d call absolutes. In fact, I’d call it a random assortment of vaguely viable theories that are only really viable if you believe the history of the land as told by Mother. The basic gist of it all was this: The Falcerta do not exist as a species. They were most likely a product of one of the side worlds that the creator was running concurrently with our own in an attempt to ascertain if the species was either historically real or in any way useful to our world. When Mother broke through the Falls with that creature of hers, the creator would have had to abandon the experiment to deal with her. As a result, when we were given our alleged freedom, that world was essentially forgotten and returned to the well of base data at the root of our existence.
                The theory from there is that the experiment was either corrupted or sentient enough to have a will to survive and a wish to exist. The fluctuation that hit a few days ago was in fact the Falcerta trying to manifest. By the nature of the way that The Winterlands was programmed to take fluctuations, the species was essentially assimilated with various potentially compatible Winterborn and the historical files were automatically altered. The fact that the history didn’t synch up was largely due to the fluctuation being caused by a species with no prior knowledge of the world it was entering. The only reason the main files here at HQ were not altered is that the power down meant they were not accessible at that moment in time.
                As to all the unease I’ve been feeling and things just not seeming like they make sense to me, that’s because the Falcerta’s survival instinct was not as complex as our world’s programming. The upshot of it all  is that the skin, or indeed scales, that I’m in is rather unstable. In fact, Mother is of the opinion that all of us affected by this phenomena (including the non-HQ electronic files) should expect to be back to our previous selves within the next couple of days.
                To be quite frank, even if my hair does seem to have returned since meeting with Mother, I find the whole idea to be…well, let’s just say I’m dubious. We shall see what happens over the coming days.
 
 
DAY 5
                OK. I’ll buy that Mother may have been correct, just this once.