Plausible deniability was a thick border. On each side of the border, the deniability steadily decreased, but we could never be sure when it stopped being plausible.

Was it plausible that the denier was clueless? How clueless could one person be before they appeared disingenuous? How clueless could the audience be? How much could we assume they would believe?

A standard boundary was clear. In theory. Either we crossed it or we didn't. But things were blurred with Rain. Sometimes both sides would cross but plead ignorance or coincidence. We've certainly hinted to one another that we knew what was going on, but never quite made the final push. One side or the other would always pull back at the last second, and things would return to the way they were.

One of the main reasons for caution on our side was that we weren't quite sure how Rain would react to our telling her everything we knew. Nor even just how much of what we knew should be given to her. She had no security clearance whatsoever, after all. Quite the opposite - she was considered a sizable security risk.

But it was difficult to get things done if we were often stepping on one another's toes. I'm not sure why Rain didn't approach us on her own, but I'm sure she had her own reasons. So both sides played a bit of a charade, pretending not to know something that we assumed both sides knew. Just yesterday, one of our access agents made reference to a conversation Rain had been having at another venue. There was no way our access agent could have known what she had said unless we gave that intelligence to him. Yet Rain ignored it, perhaps pretending she didn't understand the reference, or perhaps pretending she didn't hear it. Any denial on her part was technically plausible. So there was this bait we offered her on our end, and she had refused to bite.

She did similar things to us as well. We were somewhat trapped in a dance in which neither side would openly acknowledge they were dancing. Perhaps there was too much fear involved. Maybe neither of side truly wanted to rock the boat, though we could certainly benefit if it were pointed in the right direction. On the other hand, there was risk it could be pointed the wrong way. Or even capsize. So we each attempted to steer in the direction we wanted, without making it too obvious.

I had to shake my head. I did not sign up to play Ouija board with random villagers.

I suppose it was frustration on both sides that made us test the boundaries, but fear that prevented both sides from taking the bait offered by the other. We had to bring in our access agent again tonight. It was hard keeping up with everything Rain was doing, especially without her direct cooperation. As a result, much of our efforts in working with her had to be done by leveraging the access agent. Our training, assignments, and info dumps were grueling. Poor guy was constantly losing sleep, but it was the best we could do given the resources we had.

There were other access agents on our payroll too, of course. But most did not have the same level of access. This was one of the reasons we had for trying to break down the boundaries between us. Communication and coordination could be so much easier without the constant charade and pretense both sides were putting up to create a vision of reality none of us believed in. But at least it was the most plausible reality we had at the time, a safety net we could easily fall back on, even if it was totally false.

We did have many other plans in the pipeline though. Rain wasn't the only, nor the first, such subject we were working on. We did have a lot of past experience and lessons from different subjects we could draw from. But everyone is different, so we had to proceed with caution in case our plans did not play out the way we expected. There were certainly a lot of plans being spun up in the wake of the collapse of others. Sadly some access agents had to be moved on to other projects when their covers were no longer needed.

It would have been so much easier if everything was direct and straightforward from the get-go, but that's not how things played out. She was trying to live by example, and it was sometimes difficult to envision how she could do that while still working within our framework at the same time. On the other hand, if we completely rejected her from our framework, we ran the risk of her completely bringing down our house around us.

Working together would be the most sustainable way forward, yet we feared there would be too much of a culture clash for that to be possible. Something had to give. Maybe it was our own side that needed to be more flexible, but it was hard to convince ourselves to change so much for one person. It's been done in the past before of course, but did Rain qualify? That was the important question.

How much benefit were we expecting out of working with her, compared to the costs we were expecting we had to put in? Who knows, maybe there weren't that many costs at all, and it was only fear that made us imagine more costs than there actually would be.

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