Grady confirms that Fitz remains the team’s priority. Furthermore, due to BETA’s increasing presence in the area, the team has 12 hours to finish their mission and leave Nashville. According to the local news, both Kessler and Rerun are wanted for questioning by the police, with a separate item about Lieutenant Commaner Danica Rosen having been spotted at the Wilmore Storage Facility. Fox news is already using her presence to link NASA to the weapons locker. Other theories involve druglords and the KKK. Nicholas and his partner are wanted for the murder of 3 federal agents and are the targets of a manhunt. Both the Jeep Cherokee and the yellow sportscar have been impounded (the team declares total ignorance on where the yellow sportscar came from). Lastly, Grady adds that a child named Zayd has been leaving messages for Guy Fox on Rerun’s phone. Zayd sounds upset, saying that his friend Daniel is missing, and that Isaac went to go look for him and he hasn’t come back yet, and Zayd thinks 305 did it. The team decides to help Zayd after they investigate the campsite and hopefully recruit Fitz.
Around the campsite are located 5 wildlife detection cameras with wireless relays set up. The brown haired bearded man can be seen by the campfire, setting up hotdogs to roast. Factor and Kessler take up suitable vantage points, and Kessler breaks a camera to get the man’s attention while Rerun aproaches the campsite from the road to start talking with the man. Brer Lapine, as the man introduces himself, is easy-going with conversation, but steadfastly refuses to share information with Rerun, whom he refers to as “Brer Reynard.” As the conversation begins to reach an impasse, Fitz Cheesely steps out of the truck parked at the edge of the campsite, wanting to know what both organizations can offer him. Rerun’s reservations about the Agency prove hindering, but before the situation turns south on its own, Kessler (on cue) takes a shot at Brer Lapine’s leg. She misses, and Lapine bolts for cover behind the truck, but the demonstration of the lack of protection present seems to be enough to convince Fitz to throw his lot in with the Agency. Lapine takes a shot to the shoulder, but seems to have some form of extranatural ability that causes his attacker to take a bit of damage as well. He escapes the scene, clipping Rerun with the truck as he speeds off. He hasn’t gotten far when a gunfight erupts. A quick check-in with the Mohawks confirms it wasn’t them, and the agents conclude that BETA tangling with Brer Lapine is the source of the gunfire. As quickly as possible, the agents claim what gear they can from Lapine’s campsite, including a well-worn violin that Rerun postcogs to learn Lapine’s name is really Matthias.
Rerun asks Kessler, Jesse and the Mohawks, and Fox by extension to deal with BETA and let Lapine/Matthias go. Meanwhile, Rerun, Factor, and Fitz head to Fox’s old apartment building to track down the missing 10 year old Daniel. Driving around the block reveals Nicholas’s thunderbird parked nearby, and a police cruiser is parked out front. Using Fox’s keys to get into through the side entrance and scouting out the 3rd floor, the trio learns that 2 cops are questioning a distraught couple (presumably Daniel’s parents) and the landlady. Not wanting to risk drawing attention, they regroup, decide to grab some Thai take-out, and let Factor pose as delivery to get close enough to eavesdrop. While Factor is upstairs, Fitz and Rerun loiter in the 2nd floor stairwell, and aren’t terribly surprised to see the elevator midway down the hall open and the familiar face of Nicholas peer out. Nick joins them in the stairwell, obviously crestfallen that Fitz has also thrown in with the Agency. They recommend Nick get to a hotel to lay low for a little while, as he has not been able to re-establish communication with Matthias and BETA has spurred the police to target the pair in a manhunt. Before Nick leaves, they also assure him that the team will check in on him before they have to leave Nashville.
Up on the third floor, Factor gathers that Daniel’s parents live in room 301. He knocks on the familiar door of 305 and wins over Zayd when he convinces the kid that he’s friends wtih Fox. Zayd is worried for Isaac and Daniel and has been left alone for most of the day. He mentions room 305 across the hall, where Mr. Oakes lives. He adds that he hasn’t seen Mr. Oakes for a little while, although the older gentleman frequently goes on trips as a photographer and asks Zayd to feed his cat, Toby. The hall is now empty, so Zayd takes Factor over to 305 and lets them in via a key. Areas of the apartment have been marked off with coloured tape. Once Rerun and Fitz have arrived in 305, Zayd begins explaining the extranatural phenomena presented in each of the coloured zones, his explanations make far more sense after the team finds Oakes’ notes in his darkroom. Blue areas cause pain as objects inside rapidly age/corrode/decay, purple denotes a randomized teleportation field, time decelerates in yellow areas, black areas are fields of zero gravity, grey areas contain quiet whispers, green areas cause intense organic growth, and perhaps most intriguingly, objects put into red areas gain autonomous mobility, an unknown level of sentience, and unidentified chromism capabilities. In addition to Oakes’ copious notes, Fitz and Factor locate a paper he was in the process of writing on his computer. Needless to say, the hard drive is yanked and pocketed. Fitz takes to the investigation with enthusiasm, refusing to be thrown off even by the 5 inch ants trundling around in one of the green zones. The whispers in the grey areas are eventually identified as Hindi or Urdu, and sound like normal conversations between two or three individuals. Rerun goes to postcog the apartment’s doorknob to try to confirm Zayd’s theory that Isaac and Daniel never left the apartment via conventional methods. A misstep into the purple zone in the hall lands Rerun in the dark janitor’s closet next door, where he immediately starts using items that come to hand and his phone light to identify the types of zones between him and the exit. He is in the several-minute process of growing a beard to rival that of ZZ Top by the time Factor and Fitz open the door and turn on the lights. Fitz can’t resist the lure of the green zone Rerun has located, and dives through a zero gravity area to reach it. Once pulled to safety, Fitz stays put in the green zone with Rerun until his pompadour begins to crush itself under it’s own weight at a height of 12 inches. With Factor’s help, both Fitz and Rerun get back through the zero gravity zone and they resume exploring the area. Going up to the roof yields the discovery of only a grey and a black zone above the janitor’s closet. After Factor pokes a confused pigeon free of the zero gravity area with a handy broom, they go back to the 3rd floor where Factor points out some graffiti on the wall in what appears to be Sanskrit. He is able to identify it as the word for “home”, though it appears to be missing a fragment. Rerun’s postcognitive explorations do not yield its origin, but rather a confusing mix of here/not here feelings. Fitz attempts to scrub the word off the wall, but is hit with a gut-wrenching feeling that makes it feel like a bad idea. All three are weirded out by the shuddering tremor they feel in the wall and through the floor. Factor takes a pen and adds the missing letter to the Sanskrit “home” and suddenly there has always been the door to apartment #300 in front of them.
They enter to the most welcoming atmosphere of what turns out to be a well-furnished (if oddly designed, architecturally speaking) apartment. There is the sense that anything one would ever need or want is at hand. Fitz picks up a Martin acoustic guitar; Rerun is greeted by a friendly golden retriever. Fitz and Rerun also take a minute to clean up their appearances, shaving or trimming respective beards and clipping overlong fingernails, etc. Investigating the apartment doesn’t yield much in the way of answers: the first-floor bedroom contains a statue of Ganesh and a smaller statue of a different deity none of the three can identify. There are occasional waves of sickness and dull aches that seem to come from the apartment, itself. The second floor is made of a hallway and four bedrooms. The four occupants are an older man in janitor’s coveralls, a 10-year old boy, an elderly man they theorize is Mr. Oakes, and Isaac Ross. Daniel and Isaac are easily woken, though neither remember how they arrived in apartment #300. Unfortunately, the janitor and Mr. Oakes did not survive their extended stay in the apartment, though the actual cause of death is undetermined. When accused of “eating people” the apartment/house gives a sense of revulsion. Isaac and Daniel are escorted to the hall, where Isaac returns home to sleep and Daniel receives a bit of coaching on what NOT to tell his parents. He identifies #300 to be residence of Mr. & Mrs. Patil, whom he hasn’t seen for a while. Daniel is packed off towards his apartment and joyfully reunites with his parents just after Rerun, Factor and Fitz disappear back into #305. A cursory investigation reveals that the extranatural zones are all inactive. Going back into #300, Rerun, Factor, and Fitz are greeted once more by the welcoming house. With the survivors removed to safety, they head up to explore the third floor. There, in a large and open area, they find 6 wide chairs with high backs all facing a raised platform. Upon the raised platform is a hollow dodecahedron, throughout which is entangled a fleshy, root-like structure. Factor pokes it with the trusty broom handle, and it reaches out to grab it. Rerun severs the tendril with his sword and Factor proceeds to club the severed bit to death. Adapting to the situation, Fitz decides he wants a flamethrower, and the house obligingly provides – complete with a hair net to keep the impressive pompadour safe. Between fire, sword, and blunt force trauma, the fleshy structure is destroyed. With its core uninhibited, the house is able to communicate more clearly. It explains that the Patils have been gone for a while and it is lonely. Recently, an individual who looked and smelled like Mr. Patil entered and brought in the fleshy root before the house realized it was not Mr. Patil. Rerun postcogs the front doorknob and is able to identify the individual as a Czarist. The house indicates it can be moved via its dodecahedron core. Not wanting to leave the friendly extranatural entity at the mercy of BETA or the Czarists, the agents ask if the house would like to come with them. It deliberates and assents, certain that the Patils will be able to find it as soon as they can. Rerun picks up the basketball-sized core and follows Fitz and Factor out to the hall. As soon as the core clears the doorframe, both the door to #300 and the Sanskrit graffiti are gone, as if they had never been. The group returns to #305 with the core to evaluate the clean-up situation ahead and to await word from the rest of the team.