(this is a sequel to Harry Rath, Detective, located here:

We received our first portion of funding in October of 2026. We didn’t really expect any at all, being fresh out of college like we were. But my lab and a number of other research teams in the area got the green light and the cash to explore our rather unique field. Were we scared? Heavens, yes. We’re paranormal investigators! Most of the time, the best case scenario is that we don’t find anything at all.

But they gave us the cash and told us to get results, no matter what it took. Some rival teams went out looking for spirits and monsters, and that seemed laughable at the time. Our little group, we specialized in the mind, in man’s ability to know things he shouldn’t and do impossible feats. We believed in faeries and ghosts as much as most people did at the time, which was not much-but there was always that little touch of curiosity. Our investigation seemed much more likely to yield fruit than a bunch of grown men tromping through a house in the middle of the night looking for Casper the Friendly Ghost.

We laughed at them, we laughed as we gathered our very unusual and promising data. We laughed as they presented their readings and videos and silly theories. We laughed right up until it dawned on us where the link existed between their work and ours, and by then, it was far too late to do anything about it.

-Dr. Matthieu Gaudin, The Gaudin Effect in Theory and Practice
It gets damn hot out there. I want you to understand what I mean by that: This is not rather warm weather where you can go find a Coke and some shade and sit down for a bit. This isn’t working in the sun all day with a break every hour for water. No, this is something entirely different.

This is bullshit.

I’m sitting there camped out in the water, reclining on dirty concrete that’s just cool enough for me not to boil. The sun’s pouring out liquid fire all across the dunes, turning reassuring daylight into blistering perdition and making nighttime seem almost desirable. Almost.

Remember, this was almost thirty years ago now, so some of the wellsprings were still in working order. The Sheikah was busy trying to manufacture a city maybe three months previous, so all of the infrastructure was out there even though the people had left. It’s pretty fucking eerie out there, by the way. It’s not too bad when you’re down in the little dune valleys, but when you crest the tops of the monster ones… that’s another issue entirely. You can look out across the sandy waves for miles, and it’s only then that you realize how alone you are. Something happens to you out there, you’re the worst kind of fucked.

The road is probably shambles now, but at the time it was almost brand new. It was a bridge suspended above those blistering hot waves, and for obvious reasons it was the only way out to Atlas. The city of Atlas, not the mountains. When I crossed it, the roof was still almost painted. the wind had torn a good portion of the rust-red pigment away, but stubborn patches remained. It’s a goliath structure, too, Built like the concrete highways back home and made of nothing but man-made stone and steel.

So I’m busy relaxing in one of the artificial ponds beside the highway, the pump underneath making a rhythmic whoosh every time it cycles, and the wind just starts to die down to near stillness. Ein-that’s my horse, by the way, and I named him Einstein with my tongue firmly in my cheek-is snuffling at the greenhouse-raised grasses inside of their little trough by the road, minding his own business. Have you heard of the rest houses out there? some of them supposedly still run. Solar powered, concrete encased machinery runs under the ground to draw up water and cool the greenhouses. They were supposed to provide supplies and shelter to travelers, but most of them got snagged first by bandits and extremists, and later by nightmares.

Anyways, Ein is eating his weight in grass while I’m relaxing in the shade. The wind can’t get into the pond area because the Sheikah paid a king’s ransom for these buildings. I can hear it, but all I can see is the gray interior and the sign on the wall. It’s in arabic, and I’ve got no idea what it says. All greek to me.But it catches my eye again, because I realize something about it. It isn’t like the other signs that I’ve seen in rest houses along the bridge. This one is handwritten, whereas the other ones were clearly manufactured. It isn’t hastily written, but it isn’t something that the Sheikah paid to have made, either.

(obviously, this is still a work in progress. I'll add to it as I write further.)

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