George liked it here on the peninsula Duncan assigned him to keep an eye on. This meant Core-Alena in whatever shape she happened to be in at the time. This included The Between, a slither of land representing a neutral point between Virtual and Reality. This meant, well, anything else in and around the peninsula. Just keep your eyes peeled, requested Duncan.
And something had happened tonight, George then realized, peering around. The Seven Crate was gone from its former position behind the Magenta Girls’ beach house.
First the VEN off the boat moored just offshore several days ago, now the SeVEN crate itself. Better get this information back to Duncan as soon as possible, George considered. Maybe… right now?
“I *told* you not to come here, George.”
“I’m properly disguised — in costume.”
“Nevertheless. You’re still a boy of 13 at heart. This is an adult portal.”
George glanced over at the center of it all again. “Milk. And cookies.” He pointed. “Funny.”
“Stop looking over there. You don’t know *what* will show up. Just stare straight ahead.”
“Tell you what, let’s just get out of here.”
“But I just arrived,” protested George. “Ohhh.”
“Let’s go back to the apartment.” And so they did.
“Okay, I feel a lot more comfortable now with you being here. So… start at the beginning. When did you find the crate missing? After the boat name changed, I know. But just go through the events of the day leading up to it.”
So George unfurled the events of the day leading up to the discovery. Core-Alena and he had had breakfast together at the beach house. “English muffins, ummm,” George remembered. “Core-Alena is a good cook, especially for a tree.”
“That’s a racist and bigoted response,” reprimanded Duncan. “Trees are no different than people. There’s trees that are good with cooking, good with music, good with science. Just like people.” Duncan stared an apology out of his young ward.
“That’s okay. Now continue.”
“Well, we finished breakfast, and then I helped with the dishes and we sat around and chatted. Core-Alena — well, you know how she is. Always complaining.”
“Watch it,” warned Duncan.
“Alright.” George nodded here. “But she started on… talking about how she got killed again.”
Duncan paused with this, turned and appeared to look out the window toward the great Hotel Chelsea (the center of it all *here*) while actually deep in thought. “I see.”
“She mentioned you.”
“Of course she did.”
“And how she’s not happy being where she is now. Mobile. That’s the problem,” the boy guesses.
“Yeah,” admits Duncan, turning back around. “That’s the problem, George.” He shuffles his feet a bit, wrings his hands nervously. “A conundrum even.”
George pauses in turn. “She needs to go back into the ground. Doesn’t she?”