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A fic I first posted anonymously at Goddess-in-Green's tumblr. This one deals with Goddess-in-Green's Desert Bluffs counterpart of Carlos, Caesar and is an AU of what happened to him during 'The Sandstorm'.

Welcome to Night Vale belongs to Fink and Crannor. Please report any claims otherwise to the Sheriff's Secret Police by saying 'marmalade' into a box of tissues and then setting the whole thing on fire.


Fall of Caesar

"What the-? How'd I get here? I entered the same portal as Kevin..." An unfamiliar voice filled the lab.

Carlos tensed and turned, half suspecting what he'd see.

Just inside the doorway stood a man in business suit, dark eyes glancing around the building. A man with a very familiar face. Carlos' face.

His double.

Torn between the memory of Josie's warning and Cecil's plea, Carlos settled into a defensive stance. He wouldn't initiate this fight, but he wouldn't be caught unawares, either.

The other man simply slid his hands out of his pants pockets and raised his empty palms to Carlos. "Whoa. Easy. No need to start a fight. I was trying to get to Kevin. I don't know how I ended up here."

He wasn't carrying a gun, Carlos noted absently. There might be a knife hidden in that suit somewhere, but fortunately muscle memory and hand-to-hand knowledge carried between both Magical and Civilian forms. And The Outsider had dealt with knives before.

"Look, you're clearly a scientist..." Carlos' doppelganger trailed off as a strange voice blared from the radio. "Oh, thank god." Tension leaked from the business man's body.

"You know the voice on the radio?"

"That's Kevin. We're... to put it plainly, we're together. I thought...," he shook his head. "It doesn't matter. Where are we, anyway?"

Carlos slowly eased out of his stance, still ready to defend himself if the need arose. He hoped it wouldn't. "You don't want to fight? Ce-the radio host mentioned fist-fights - or worse - breaking out between doubles, earlier. And we're in my lab, in Night Vale."

"Not really," shrugged the man. "It's a waste of both resources and potential markets. Quite honestly, all I really want at the moment is a beer. Haven't had one in ages, because it messes with Kevin's behavior regulator and I don't want to tempt him. Plus, I need to 'set a good example for fellow StrexCorp employees' according to some memo or other."

Carlos blinked, then blinked again. "Uh, yeah. I've got beer. I'm Carlos, by the way." He waved the other man deeper into the lab. "It's in the second fridge over there. Don't open the first one."

"Second fridge, got it. My name's Caesar, if we're sticking to just given names."

"Probably for the best," agreed Carlos. "No offense, but I don't want you to be able to find my family or which science journals I'm published in." He paused. "And now that I'll sound like a complete hypocrite, what do you do?"

Caesar snorted. "Well, I'd already guessed you were a scientist. Officially, I'm a researcher in one of the divisions of StrexCorp. I'm not telling you which one, so don't ask." He sipped his beer. "Unofficially, but more accurately, I'm a 'No-Man'. A voice of logic, reason, and caution attempting to make Management and the various Yes-Men see the reality and the pitfalls of their plans." Pausing to take another swig of beer, Caesar continued, "unfortunately, I'm not powerful enough to make them listen to me."

"Then why don't you leave?" Carlos toyed with his own beer bottle. "Both of you, if Kevin will come with you."

"Leave?" Caesar laughed, sharp and harsh. "Strex has Kevin and I by the balls, and I don't mean our employment contracts. No, Strex has our son, Odysseus, trapped in stasis. As long as we behave, as long as we perform the way Strex wants us to, as long as we're fucking profitable, he isn't harmed and... and they release him from stasis twice a year."

"I'm sorry," murmured Carlos, knowing how trite and useless the words sounded.

"Yeah, so am I." Caesar set down his beer bottle with a soft thump. "And I need to get back before they miss me." He glanced away. "I'll try not to tell Strex about you, but if it's a choice between Odie and Kevin or you..."

"I get it," Carlos interrupted. "Who knows, I might make the same decision in your position if I had a kid." He paused. "How are you going to get back, anyway?"

Shrugging, Caesar answered, "Same way I came in. It's not really scientific, but science doesn't always work in Desert Bluffs."

"Good luck."

"Thanks." Caesar stepped out into the swirling sand... and found himself standing in the metaphorical shadow of Desert Bluffs' radio station. Squaring his shoulders, Caesar turned towards the station's door.

"Dr.Santiago," a voice called.

Caesar turned.

"It's a pity that you survived your encounter with your double," commented CFO Smith. "We had such high hopes of... resolving this issue via third party. Makes things much neater."

"Sir?" Caesar tried not to pale at the implication or the pistol aimed at his heart.

The gun fired.

"Your services are no longer necessary. The Officers and Board of Directors are now taking a more... active interest in both Mr. Kevin Palmer and Mr. Odysseus Palmer," Smith announced. He waved a pair of suited thugs forward. "Take him to one of HR recycling labs. They always need more corpses."

'Odysseus.... Kevin.... I'm sorry....'

End

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