Staff member

DATE: 6.10.23, 0901 hours
LOCATION: Conference Room 14-C-H
ASSETS: Isaac Cotta, A-Class-D; Hope Phillips, A-Class-C; Cody Redd, R-Class-D [TARDY]; guest speaker ACF-833; ERCC; various Class-B and Class-C personnel.
EQUIPMENT: 20 desks with chairs; pencils and pens [inside desks]; review file [on each desk]; notebooks and highlighters [provided to personnel previous night; up to personnel to bring them]
PURPOSE: Educational

Dr. Cody Redd was running late.

Isaac wasn’t very comfortable with Cody being late. There’d even been a note in the email to senior personnel to set a good example for the newbie class. He knew Cody well enough to know he wasn’t going to flake out completely, but Cody was supposed to do the introductory presentation, the one that ran through the basics. That, and it was a bad look with the L-5 Executive Research and Containment Consultant on-site.

And it was a good sign Cody was up to no good. Everyone assumed Isaac was older - after all, he was the more serious security-type, the one who followed the rules and made sure everything was in order - but there were almost two years’ difference between the location heads. And Cody wasn’t the younger one.

Agent Phillips checked her watch, then gave Isaac a sidelong glance. This wasn’t her first time being the one to do the field agency presentation, although usually it was the team lead for FCRT-14-1, Agent Richards. Even if Richards wasn’t out, though, it would’ve made sense for Hope to be the one to make this presentation. After all, one of her assets was among the students here for retraining. The same asset that had breached and the reason Isaac had called for an auditor in the first place. She also knew Cody’s penchant for… surprises, though, and while he didn’t see concern mirrored in her blue eyes he did recognize the question there. He just shrugged one shoulder in reply.

The only way every desk would be filled would be if some Class-C staff decided to sit in for a review. Cody, Hope, and Isaac would just be going over the very basics of how L-14 operated, but the class was open to everyone who wanted to be here. It was a good place to ask questions that might seem too simple for most situations, and it wasn’t like the new personnel would know the difference. In fact it might even save them some time and trouble later. That, and Leviathan’s latest update to ethics protocol was going to be part of this one, so those who hadn’t attended already were just filling in a requirement.

Isaac scanned the room. As expected, lots of new faces, and a few familiar ones. Dr. Weiss had been invited, given he was here to inspect security measures and research protocol. All new Class-B personnel, including anomalies recently given Class-B privileges, were required to be here or else wait to start research and activity until after the next one, in at least a month. And he was always happy to see Class-Cs taking advantage of the chance to interact with the newbies, get their required training on the new ethics protocol out of the way, and review some stuff they might not have thought about since they were newbies themselves. Or just making an excuse to take a Saturday off, which was what some of them were doing.

The minute hand on the wall clock crawled to 9:02. He didn’t know where Cody was, but he had to get started. With another glance at Phillips, who just nodded a little, Isaac walked in front of the gathered personnel.

“Alright everyone, thank you for coming. It looks like Dr. Redd is running a little behind, but we can get started with an overview of the schedule and any opening questions.” He waited for the room to quiet down. “As you all know, this morning from now until about 10, we have a few presentations. Dr. Redd will do an introduction to classifications, then Agent Phillips will give us some highlights on the work our FCRT teams do, and then I’ll go into the ethics portion. For those of you here for just that, thanks again for coming. We ask for your patience, but we also encourage you to interact with the new personnel. Group discussion is encouraged as long as it doesn’t interrupt the lecture, and there’ll be time in between presentations for questions.

“At 10 we’ll take a quick break, at which point senior agents and researchers can go back to your work if you want. The rest of you, don’t go too far. At 10:30, Agent Laine Cantrille will discuss some of our security protocols and their importance. At 11, we’d normally have Dr. Eisenberg, our head of psychology, talk to you about the importance of your physical and mental wellbeing, but you’re all spared from that until your first sessions with him since he has some appointments he needs to catch up on. So at that point the floor will open up if any of our guest researchers from other locations were interested in filling that time.”

He didn’t directly mention Dr. Weiss, mostly because the older researchers at L-14 disliked the man on principle. They were used to looser rules, which was fine, until it got someone killed. Then Isaac had to do his job and make sure that didn’t happen again. If Dr. Weiss decided to fill the 1100 to 1130 slot, the invitation was now open.

“At 11:30 we’ll break for lunch in the cafeteria until 12:30, when we’ll reconvene for any new questions. We’ll give everyone until 1300 to meet back up with us here, and from here we’ll start the site tour. At 1400 we’ll visit one of L-14’s more significant anomalies, and its senior researcher - for security reasons, I can’t tell you any more than that right now. When that ends you’ll be sent with your location assignments to meet relevant staff, and then you’re free until dinner at 1700.”

The clock crept to 9:04. Isaac didn’t look at it.

“Does anyone have any questions about any of that?”
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Dr. Redd was not present. Laine took this personally.

In terms of protocol, it was not at all her responsibility. Laine was a relatively junior security officer. It was, in fact, somewhat surprising that she was even doing a presentation, but Laine was very organized. She was not, however, particularly good with people, and that was a matter of some concern. She had decided that her focus did not need to be on the people, only on the information to be presented, and that made things acceptable.

She was familiar with almost all of the staff here. Whether or not she had met them in person, Laine had read all of their files - at least the ones available at Class C - and considered this an acceptable level of familiarity. Dr. Redd being absent was less acceptable. He was supposed to be here, after all. They were supposed to be together. The room was an incomplete set, a piece missing.

She kept her feelings on the matter contained. To do otherwise would have been poor form, after all - poor security. Laine couldn't be expected to provide security for other anomalies if she could not keep herself secure, after all - and she was a security agent now, whether or not anyone had expected her to be.

Laine sat at her desk, which undoubtedly contained everything she needed, the top devoid of anything except the review file and a single pen. Agent Cotta had taken over the introduction, which could have been strange, but...

No. Of course that fit.

A slight nudge, in a more secure direction. It was very natural to have Agent Cotta open the meeting, after all. Having Dr. Redd absent might have bothered her, but it was best not to let it bother everyone else. He would be here.
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Pepper had no excuses for being late to anything.

Dr. Kallie had once made a joke about this, saying that if Pepper was ever late to anything, it was intentional. After all, if the woman could travel halfway around the world in two minutes and fifty-five seconds, she could certainly make it to a meeting five stories below where she lived on time. After hearing that, Pepper had taken it to mean that if she was ever late to anything, people would take it as a personal slight against them. Since then, she had never been late for a single event, meeting, or assignment.

Pepper was also not required to be there.

No, as a class-c personnel, and a field researcher at that, she wasn’t required to attend these meetings. She attended them because she had been told that her presence was helpful, and that she made the nervous new volunteers feel a bit better about being there. Of course, that might have been a joke. Sometimes Pepper had trouble telling if things were jokes made at her expense or not. She assumed the best in everyone and assumed that in turn, they expected the best from her.

No, today she was there to support Laine. From where she was sitting on the edge of the crowd, she could see Laine sitting at a desk near the front of the room. She wiggled in her seat a little, looking at the woman and trying to catch her eye. She gave her a double thumbs up and an encouraging smile. She had heard that the woman would be part of the team presenting the introductory presentation, and she was pretty sure this was the first time that she was going to be a major part of it.

Pepper and Laine hadn’t always gotten along the best– they were very different people– but she still supported the women as often as she could. She wished deeply that they could be good friends, but Pepper was far more compatible with Cody than she was with Laine, as much as she wished otherwise. Not that she didn’t like Cody, she absolutely did. But there weren’t many women in their age group at their location, and she befriended as many of them as she could. And Laine, as another anomaly, could have been a great friend. If only they understood each other.

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There are a lot of things happening very quickly, and Venus has always prided herself on being a quick learner but this is all getting a little ridiculous. First there was a box that refused to obey the laws of conservation of matter, though the puzzles were admittedly intriguing. Then there was a hidden garage in a field that could comfortably be called the middle of nowhere, and a complex that proved that nowhere can be a very interesting place to be.

And then there were procedures and tests and a choice that wasn’t really a choice. Between forgetting that there are wonderful, weird, fundamental-law-breaking things in this world, or getting to study them, no, it wasn’t really a choice at all.

But that’s all in the past, and the present still requires her attention. Venus arrived at the conference room ten minutes early, which is a disappointing five minutes later than she wanted to arrive. In her defense she got a little lost, as the signage is quite confusing when it comes to where you’re supposed to go as opposed to where you’re ‘absolutely definitely never supposed to venture if you value your life and/or sanity’.

Regardless, she’s here now. Mrs. Corina said she had work to do and Venus didn’t want to interrupt any conversations, so she’s just been sitting quietly at her desk, fiddling with one of the highlighters the Foundation provided. The presenter is late, it seems, but she gives Mr. Cotta the same polite attention she would anyone else. They met a few days ago, didn’t they? As aforementioned, a lot has happened.

And then he starts listing dates and things to remember, and Venus scrambles for a pencil. She knocks a highlighter to the ground in her haste before realizing she’s already been given a copy of the schedule. The highlighter is abandoned, for now, because it’s too far away to nudge back towards her desk without drawing even more attention. She keeps her head down and adds her own annotations to the sheet. She can’t quite resist adding a little doodle on the edge of the page before erasing it.

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The room went quiet as Isaac waited for someone to ask something, anything, to kill the time. Another minute had started to crawl past; some staff shuffled uncomfortably, and he felt eyes on himself. He kept his cool, but it was just as his mind inched from I wonder where Cody is to where the hell is Redd? that the noise came.

A man shuffled into the room from the hallway, having moved fairly quietly for someone in his apparent condition before entering 14-C-H with several audible groans. Visually, he was indistinguishable from a Hollywood zombie - gray skin largely decayed from the right side of his face, rotten black teeth, missing nose, glassy eyes, matted hair, emaciated hands missing chunks of flesh. A walking corpse, in the late stages of decomposition. He dragged one foot behind him, and kept his hands raised in a stiff and unnatural position. Two things would stand out to the people closest to him, however: the lack of any kind of smell closely associated with such advanced rot, and the bright, unblemished gold chain with its ruby medallion suspended at its center - the object that, at a glance, would tell personnel experienced with its wearer that there was no danger, although the less experienced might be wishing for the weapons that they either hadn’t yet been issued or had been checked by security before entering the conference wing of the building.

Under the gold chain, the rotten man’s green t-shirt read: “I make bad science puns - PERIODICALLY”, with a stylized microscope between the first line and “periodically”. His clothes were stained, although not as ragged as they could have been, and he had a pair of black tennis shoes that looked close to new, even if one was being dragged across the floor at an odd angle. The next clue that the apparently long-dead man was no threat was the look of mixed disappointment and frustration on Isaac Cotta’s face as he very distinctly did not reach for his own standard-issue weapon, and instead folded his hands behind his back.

“Quite finished, Mr. Murray?”

The zombie stopped where he was, and took several more snarling breaths before letting them subside into a soft, very human chuckle.

“Please. Just Bill.”

Without any ceremony, the rot was gone, and beneath the dissipated illusion Dr. Cody Redd let his arms fall to his sides. Clean clothes and a healthy appearance replaced the rigor mortis and bloodstains. He had no idea how many personnel here would get the Zombieland reference, but it was enough that Isaac had recognized it - and that maybe one person would laugh. Behind Agent Cotta, Hope had looked down at her boots, her mouth pressed into a thin line like a good agent trying to save face. Cody’s expression was smug as he fished around in a pocket and retrieved his glasses, before turning to the rest of the class.

“Good morning everybody.” In its healthy state, Cody had a ruddy face and a flawless, irrepressible smile that many people found more contagious than the myriad of diseases he should be carrying by now - would be, if not for 255. What had been a patchy shadow of scruff once upon a time had developed into a neat goatee, although his hair was still just long enough to be considered shaggy. “What you all just witnessed was an example of two anomalies in action - ACF-4724 ‘Zombie Plague’, and its visible effects on a person’s body; and ACF-255, ‘Redd Medal,’ which gives full immunity to that and other diseases to which it’s been exposed. Respectively, a Risky and Household-class anomaly. How these anomalies work, and how they interact with each other, is the groundwork for the kind of research we perform here in the Foundation.”

Isaac stepped back from the front and center, and gestured to the newcomer. He kept his tone distinctly neutral.

“Everyone, Dr. Cody Redd. Our head of research here at L-14.”

Cody gave a general wave, then put his hands in his pockets and strolled up to the front of the room, talking all the while.“I thought we’d start off with something a little more hands-on, but it’s completely harmless. For anybody still worried, ACF-255 renders the wearer immune to any disease that it’s been exposed to - including, so far, most of our anomalous ones. Not only that, but as you just saw, it can later replicate the physical effects of that disease. This is invaluable for study, as the non-infected wearer of Two-Fifty-Five can be checked for the disease’s symptoms and effects without risk of contagion to other personnel.” He stopped at the front of the classroom, then removed the necklace and handed it to Agent Cantrille, ignoring any looks and feelings of disappointment or annoyance from her or other personnel.

“Laine, pass this around if you don’t mind. Now it won’t remember the things I’ve been exposed to for all of you. It resets with every wearer, which means it’s not great for field work unless I’m with the team. Since I’ve got other responsibilities here, that’s not as common a thing anymore. You will, however, see a lot of other objects that we use this way both in the lab and in the field. We don’t just contain the murder monsters, after all.” While 255 was passed around the room, Cody made it to his position as presenter. Behind him while he fiddled with the computer, Hope pulled down a white projection sheet from the roll above the room’s whiteboard. A projector whirred to life, and somewhere in the back of the room, someone turned off the lights. Perhaps it was an anomaly itself, but the system worked perfectly on the first try, and the screen glowed with his title card. “Questions about 255 will have to wait until the end of the presentation - if you think it’s important, make sure to write it down. Rule number two and all. And rule number three, remember this stuff, because we do have pop quizzes here. They’re called containment breaches.”

He gave the room a second to laugh, glare, or roll their eyes. His own grin remained unshaken.

Rather than just read off the slides, Cody picked up a clicker and paced around the front of the classroom as he explained the details of this work he’d grown to love. About halfway through he reached into an inner pocket and pulled out a Red Bull, which he sipped at sometimes when he'd otherwise pause to breathe. Besides that, he immersed himself in the presentation. He’d been known to fuck around, be childish and all, but despite his overgrown funny bone it was his level of maturity as a researcher that had gotten him this position. He took the work seriously, if nothing else.

He kept things simple, but it was clear he knew far more than most Class-Cs his age about the content, and could’ve expanded on anything if he wanted - and probably remained approachable as he did so. And while he didn’t leave space for interruption, there was almost eagerness as he made it to the last slide and opened the floor to the newbies - or the experienced personnel with two cents to chip in.
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Dr. Redd arrived, with a case of ACF-4724. Laine looked at him in the doorway, entirely nonplussed, and then significantly tilted her head towards the clock on the wall. Anomalous diseases were not an excuse for not being on time, especially when they were self-infected. ACF-255 rid him of the symptoms soon enough, returning Dr. Redd to his usual appearance, which was more tidy, but only marginally.

He gave her responsibility for ACF-255 on a temporary basis, which was acceptable. Agent Cotta was the ranking security officer here, but he was also busy with running the meeting and managing Dr. Redd. She accepted the task and rose from her seat, bringing the medallion by the other seated Foundation personnel in turn. At some point she must have bent down to retrieve the fallen highlighter, because it was back where it belonged on Ms. Votticelli-Smith's desk as Laine passed by, but of course it was impossible to tell exactly when that had happened.

Dr. Redd started his presentation with an example of Foundation humor. Breaches were not actually called pop quizzes, but this was meant to be a reference to the fact that both were unexpected and generally considered undesirable by the majority of persons. Laine attempted to understand humor when it was presented to her. This did not make it funny.

At least he had not started his presentation's definition of "anomaly" as being derived from anom / homalous "because, o.m.g. [sic], they're not even." This was apparently a reference to a particular type of speech pattern prevalent in the California valley area, especially among young women, and had required a great deal of explaination. Laine still did not think that one was funny, either. It was possible that her sense of humor was anomalous.

The information presented in the slideshow was not new, but it was not unwanted. Many of the people here were new, or new to L-14, and it was important that the basic facts be covered. These would provide a foundation for their time in the Foundation, which would have been a pun if Dr. Redd had said it. In the context of Laine's mindset, it was merely factual.

"Thank you, Dr. Redd." Politeness was important, especially because Laine was not good with people. Being polite offered a certain amount of security in interpersonal interactions that enabled a buffer zone between concern and discomfort, particularly when anomalous behavior was involved.

Laine did not want to make people uncomfortable. The Foundation already had people for that.
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Knock. Knock!

The door opened with a small creak as a pair of dreary eyes peered inside. Strutting in almost hunchbacked and leaning forward along with the most bombastic bedhair this side of the anomalous organization, the soft plip plap! of pink fuzzy slippers followed inside the room. An equally pink and fuzzy pajama bathrobe coat sits on his frame and reaching down to a little past his knees while the belt remains undone.

After taking a few steps inside the darkened room and glancing with watery eyes at the classroom, the robe flows around his person and reveals a white shirt shirt that reads, in pink letters, E=MC2 and underneath is detailed Energy equals more coffee. Pinks hearts dot along his white pajama pants before he begins to take steps towards the back of the classroom.

As Seven made his way between desks, the anomalous agent raised his fist and flipped the finger off--almost lazily so before dropping his arm--at his fellow anomalous agent. Old dog Ezekiel. Glancing between Pepper, Laine, Ezekial, the old man, and the new face, the unlucky field agent weighed his options. Laine would just judge him or analyze him. Pepper was way too, well, peppy for the morning. It was way too early for him to be under either of their lenses.

The old man could eat a whole bag of Werther's Original for all Seven cared. And he just flipped Ezekial off so best to keep distance from any retaliatory shenanigans.

Which left the new girl. Driving that eraser into the paper like she was on a mission. Perfect. The eraser could take the brunt of her attention for all he cared while he snuck into a seat and took a nap.

Sitting down next to the new face of this merry band of misfits, Seven offered a nod, "Hello."

Wait, why did he say hello if he wanted to be discreet? Whatever, did it matter? All it would take is a little shimmying into position and he could dose off right on that desk.

Oooh. Pens.

The soft yet elongated dark shapes inside the desk surrounded by a darkened room beckoned one hand to move forward and grab a pen. Before to start clicking. And clicking more. And clicking again. His entire attention drawn to this one goal.

Faster and faster until-.


The entire contraption blew up inside the palm of his hand, spilling a little onto his clothes and face. His entire hand coated in black ink as it dripped onto the desk below.

"Heh," a soft yet amused chuckled escaped him. Before blinking his eyes and looking up. Were they passing around an anomalous object? Oh this was going to be fun. Let's see how his bad luck interacted with this.

Peering over at the new face, new girl--he really needed to get her name--and dropping the pen onto the desk, Seven opened and closed his hands several times, waiting to be handed the medallion.

"Hey, new girl. What's your name?"

The biggest yet sleepiest smirk that could ever be found on the planet, in all its history, was resting perfectly upon his expression. His hands still aimlessly clasping at air, waiting as his fingers bounced against his palms with each movement.

"Want to see something cool?"
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The slide show was well prepared, but then again, Cody rarely messed around where seriousness was needed. He enjoyed being a prankster, and he enjoyed surprising people, but for as long as Pepper had worked with him, he had always been serious when the situation called for it. She admired him for his ability to remain light and loose even when things got serious. In fact, it was one of the reasons they got along as well as they did.

As 255 was passed around the room, it eventually ended up in Pepper’s hands. She smiled and turned around to pass it along with barely a glance. She had had enough experiences with Cody and his medallion. There wasn’t any real need for her to study it any further outside a lab setting. As she turned around to give it to a younger woman– a new face!– she caught sight of Seven sitting next to the girl. For a moment she paused, wondering if she should interject before something happened.

“Everything okay back here?” She held out 255 to the new girl, offering it to her for her turn at an examination. Her eyes flickered back and forth between Seven and the young woman, then back up at the front of the room to Laine. She was here to support Laine, but the excitement of a new face, coupled with her concern for Seven’s presence, left her turning back around to face the duo. There was a great unlikelihood that anything bad would happen to the new girl. If anything, she might end up having some of the best luck of her life being in his vicinity.

It was more Seven that was worried for.

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Hope L. Phillips

Wisdom Teeth was currently present in its surviving entirety. Ezekiel B. M. Carmichael III was here because he was required to reattend mandatory Class-B training; Ivonne Beauregard, Bridget Adwin, and Alvin Sigel were here for the ethics lecture that came at the end; and Hope L. Phillips was here to present on field teams. It was more common for Lepidopterist 01 to give that portion, but Checkers and his team were abroad on a collections mission, so Wisdom Teeth 01 had to fill in for him.

She’d watched her team’s behavior for the first part of Redd’s lecture, except for Carmichael, who she knew would make this difficult by attempting to flirt with her across the room. Alvin had buried himself in re-examining the paperwork on the desk in front of him, both as a distraction and to disappear in the midst of other students equally invested in the work. Bridget watched politely, running her fingertips through the end of the ginger braid that curled around her shoulder over her labcoat, blue eyes and red freckles standing out clearly in the projector-screen light. And Ivonne had taken it upon herself to fold a small armada of paper airplanes from the packet provided. She’d shown remarkable self-restraint in not throwing any yet.

At around slide 7, Phillips watched ACF-007 trudge in like he’d just rolled out of bed as her blue eyes looked everywhere but at Carmichael, except for a quick glance when 007 flipped him the bird. 007 was notorious for his authority issues and general attitude, which was making it almost impossible for them to place him on an FCRT. His luck manipulation wasn’t going to function well with Lepidopterists, and Errand Boys demanded a certain degree of subtlety that didn’t fit his psych profile or anomalous ability. Wisdom Teeth already had an anomaly with authority issues and did not need a second. One after another, all of L-14’s FCRTs each had their own objections and prerequisites. Or he’d already butted heads with their team leads and they didn’t want anything to do with him. At the rate he was going, he probably wasn’t getting out to the field anytime soon.

Cotta had noticed him, too, although he didn’t keep Hope’s hawk-gaze on him. He instead waited for a convenient pause in Redd’s slideshow to call to the newcomer, “Thank you for joining us, Seven. Please try to be prompt next time.” And then he let it be as the rest of the class either snickered, or looked at the tardy Class-B, who promptly caused a pen to explode.

Redd resumed his talk as 007 whispered about “something cool” to – Hope went over the registry in her head – Venus Votticelli-Smith, a very recent addition to the personnel roster. “Want to see something cool?” was a notorious intern code for “I’m about to cause problems on purpose,” although what kind of problem he could cause with ACF-255 was far beyond her, besides maybe stain the metal with ink or drop it on the floor. He’d never interacted with it before, she was pretty sure, so it wouldn’t have any “memory” of previous illness, so there wasn’t anything that could happen here unless someone lied about their vaccine records.

In short, 007’s behavior was nothing that she could actually object to, even if he did whisper through the rest of Dr. Redd’s lecture and distract other personnel in the process. Another field researcher, Dr. — er, Pepper, Hope wasn’t any good with central European languages. Eisenberg could probably pronounce it. Pepper seemed to have it in hand, which was nice. It meant Phillips could focus on....

“You’re welcome, Laine. Alright, no questions? If you think of anything you can ask during the break, then, or when our next presenter is done.”

Hope blinked and looked at Redd. She’d seen his presentation earlier, and knew most of the contents, and it was because of that – not despite it – that she was surprised he was already done. She must’ve lost track of time or let her mind wander. That was a bad sign, even if she was technically off-duty as an agent. She had to get her head on straight and make an impression.

He stepped aside for Hope to take his place, passing her the remote as he did so while Cotta changed presentations on screen.

She stepped to the forefront. In the absence of field-equipment armor, she had a purple turtleneck blouse, black slacks, and thick-soled boots. Her hair was tied up in a ponytail, although there was a chunk that had tried to escape and found itself tucked behind an ear. She was something of a minimalist when it came to makeup, only touching up the highlights of her face even for public presentations like this. She chose to keep it simple in the jewelry department as well, with only stud earrings made of black stone flecked with red. She wasn’t here to make a statement – not that kind of statement, at least.

She also wore ACF-517, “Never Northward”, around her neck. The old compass was usually reserved for field missions, but she’d been able to make an exception for this. Under the lid of its case she could feel the heavy needle spinning lazily to indicate this was exactly where she needed to be right now. Like all Class-C and lower personnel she’d surrendered her weapons on entering the conference wing, but her belt sported both a small, slender knife sheath and the holster for her 1911 Colt, which was not standard-issue anymore but was a belated heirloom. Her security badge was clipped to her belt.

She smiled as she took her place and her title card appeared on the screen. “Good morning, everyone. My name is Agent Hope Phillips, rank A-Class-C. I’m the head of one of our field recollection and containment teams, FCRT Fourteen Three ‘Wisdom Teeth’, field designation ‘Handler’. I’m here to start walking you through the basics of how we conduct field missions here at L-14.”

Her cards were simpler than Cody’s, and her presentation was considerably different from his as well. She remained still and grounded, used her hands more than her body to speak. Her slides were bare, but she filled in necessary information as needed. She kept an eye on the group, making sure certain someones didn’t cause too much trouble and taking note of any points when someone looked confused about a phrase or term. Unlike Cody, her soul didn’t shine through with every word – Agency staff were considerably more reserved, especially ones that dealt with the “out there” on the regular – but she was well-versed and professional without rigidity, and hoped that someone would take up her opening for questions and answers.
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Seven arrived on time. By strict interpretation of the clock, Seven arrived late, but Seven was an anomaly and Seven did not work the same way as people did. The time that Seven arrived was the time that was right for Seven, and was therefore on time. The anomaly would have been temporally inconsistent with reference to the clock no matter what: that was just the nature of the anomaly itself, something beyond its control. Laine could understand that.

She still did not spend a great deal of time with Seven. He was notoriously untidy, which was the way he was supposed to be, but it did not make it any easier for her. Some anomalies simply didn't mesh well. Within only a few minutes of entry, Seven had broken a pen, which bothered her. Laine didn't assign blame for the status, but that didn't mean that it wasn't frustratingly untidy. She resisted the urge to clean it up, because that would have only resulted in something else happening or something worse happening. Sometimes the most security-focused decision with anomalies was to leave them alone.

He was bothering Miss Votticelli-Smith, but Pepper was already there to monitor the situation. Pepper was good with people. She would keep the situation from getting out of hand. This allowed Laine to direct her focus to the next presenter, Agent Phillips.


That was one of those words that people used with her when they were trying not to use other words that had meanings, so of course that meant there was a specific meaning associated with that word as well. It was not associated with Agent Phillips. The callsign was merely an unfortunate coincidence, something that Laine was aware of and had been aware of for some time. They had met before, on other occasions, and her reaction was always the same - a slight hitch at first, then muted. Laine was not going to allow that to get in the way of what she was supposed to be doing. She was a security agent, after all.

Also, it was probably best to have FCRT-14-3 here for this presentation, rather than one of the other teams. Laine had distinct difficulties with FCRT-14-1. It was not the team itself that was the trouble, but the offshoot presence of ACF-707. Laine didn't dislike the other anomaly, precisely, but the way they functioned was almost in direct opposition. Laine kept things in place; 707 was an anomaly of change. Its nature made her uncomfortable being in its presence, even more so than Seven. This was not the fault of either anomaly, merely an interaction of note. There was paperwork about it, some of which Laine had written. Dr. Redd had informed her that it was "particularly incoherent, even for you."

Some things were very difficult to explain properly, even with a dictionary.

Agent Phillips was an acceptable presenter, given that situation. Laine listened carefully, since she didn't have experience with FCRTs. She had noticed that some personnel had a tendency to refer to them as FCRT Teams, which bothered her. The T was for Team. It was part of the abbreviation. Agent Phillips did not do that, which Laine appreciated.

It was not likely that Laine would ever be a member of one of the FCRTs. This was because (a) she was not good with people, (b) she was not good with vehicular transportation, (c) she was an anomaly, (d) she belonged at L-14, and (e) other reasons as necessary. That was what the paperwork said. Laine agreed with the paperwork. She belonged at L-14. That did not make her any less curious about the teams, however, as they were the ones who usually brought the anomalies back to the Foundation, and that was very important.

"What do you do about agents or entities who are resistant to amnestics?" Laine was particularly curious about that, since it was (e - iii [note]: she's probably amnestic resistant, but we don't really want to try that?).

Laine also did not want to try that. If they worked, she might forget that she belonged at L-14, and that would get very untidy.
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The center desk, at the very front of the room, had been occupied even before the first of the attendees arrived. The man was decidedly average, with a mess of dark curls meticulously combed over a young, plump face. Thick, dark rimmed glasses covered his eyes, a deep green with flecks of brown, and a smattering of freckles spread across his nose and cheeks to mingle with a slightly ruddied complexion. Under his immaculate white lab coat he worse a maroon sweater-vest over a simple black button up. Black slacks and well polished dress shoes completed the well-coiffed ensemble, and a notebook in front of him with three pens set perfectly parallel to it spoke of his adoration for symmetry and cleanliness.

Harold Stines had all of the proper paperwork for a lower level researcher, though little to his name as far as documented work. Other researchers might have been upset that they hadn’t separated themselves from the pack, but Catian’s need for the disguise only went so far as surreptitious reconnaissance; or simply pure boredom. It had been a while since the Stone had last been used, some time since he had been asked for his assistance. While the rest of the world outside of the Foundation had plenty of interests to keep the Traveler occupied, he tended to stay close to where the organization settled. Given the nature of his arrival in this reality and the rules the Stone seemed to apply, the ACF was likely where Catian’s purpose would make itself known.

After the first presentation he decided that this briefing was probably not why he had come to this world, but it offered him a chance to study some of the Foundation personnel that he had only read files on. His particular interests were in three Anomalous agents; Laine Cantrille: ACF-833 “Anchor,” Elizabeth Pepper Krasniqi: ACF-7823-A “Peppers,” and ACF-007. The first of the three had been under his observation for several years since she had been found. The second, “Peppers,” had been more interesting to follow, particularly during her travels through ACF-7823-B. The third, Designation: Seven, had provided something akin to comic relief for Catian, though his childish antics were sure to wear anyone down forced to deal with them directly. Occasionally Catian had provided a touch of help with cleaning up Seven’s messes, carefully so as not to alert the rest of the Foundation to his covert observations.

And so Harold Stines had arrived for the presentation, to better keep an eye on the happenings around the three interesting subjects. With the digitization of Foundation records, despite their closed networks and deep encryption, Catian had found it quite easy to forge the necessary qualifications for Stines. And while Harold was no research rock star, a careful eye might note his participation in a great number of experiments as an extra hand. Catian had no issue with playing the part; he might have even enjoyed the way other assets would speak so freely to him, without knowing the truth of what he was.

Seven arrived in his usual fashion, and had his eyes been anywhere near the front of the room he might have noted the way “Harold’s” lab coat miraculously avoided the fine spray of the broken pen. If he had noticed he would likely attribute it to his own anomalous nature. Between Seven and Peppers a young woman handled the offered medal, and distracted the young man as young women tended to do. Catian smiled with Harold’s lips as he scribbled a note about the interaction. Personnel files labeled the young woman as Venus Votticelli-Smith, something of a legacy member to the agency. Though she held no anomalous designation Catian’s note expressed some interest in her abilities as a researcher.

Laine asked after amnesiatic resistances, and Harold’s eyes lifted back to the presentation, every minute movement devoted to the personification of the character he had created for these social engagements beneath the Foundation’s nose. A small scratch under his arm, a sniffle or a soft cough. Catian didn’t need to breathe if he so chose, and the mortality he emulated in his disguise was a stark reminder of how inhuman he had become. It was almost pleasurable to revisit the intricacies of a human existence, nostalgic despite the foreign nature of this reality. He scribbled another note, doubled over his desk in a studious facade as he listed potential questions to ask when another opportunity presented itself.
Nobody noticed the painted lady butterfly on Harold Stines’ desk. Maybe it was because she had always been there, or maybe it was because she wasn’t supposed to be there, but someone had wanted an eye kept on him. Someone would notice her, she knew, but she did not wish to distract from the presentation. This was an important appearance – even at L-14, she rarely interfered with Harold Stines’ presence, although she could sense the shift of threads when he came in. There was something going on today that she knew about, and perhaps he didn’t.

It was perhaps a good thing it wasn’t possible for a butterfly to be smug.

“Excellent question, Agent Cantrille.” Hope didn’t notice any inconsistency in the students, or see a butterfly. She was professional as ever, focused on the task at hand.

“I’ll preface with this: resistance to amnestic treatment does not inherently make you anomalous, any more than a strange reaction to a vaccine would. Some agents’ brains are just built that way. For example, two members of Lepidopterists – Checkers and Widow – experience a higher than usual resistance to amnestic administration and therapy. In their cases the response was to assign them specimens of ACF-707. In the case of agents, other anomalous means may be used, or other forms of therapeutic treatment. These don’t do much for memetic hazards, but they do help in post-traumatic situations.

“It’s rare that we encounter people outside the Foundation who have physical or mental resistance to amnestic treatments. When it comes to GoIs, we don’t have much choice in the matter except capture or observe; the choice of measures to contain information goes through STLH teams. Surface Teams are different from FCRTs, but more details about them are strictly need-to-know. If you need to know, there’ll be more training.

“And then there are non-GoI, non-anomalous people outside the Foundation who have strong resistance to amnestics. These are offered recruitment into the Foundation, or placed under strict surveillance for information control, again by STLH teams. Finally, anomalies with resistance to amenstics are each unique. It unfortunately takes trial and error to learn how to help them when it comes to amnesticizing against traumatic events. That’s Dr. Eisenberg’s department – he likely has more details.”

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A zombie walks through the door. Venus feels a bit faint, stiff where she’s twisted around in her seat to look at the back of the room. But no one else is properly freaking out, and she’s already wrong-footed enough that she can only manage a weak, barely audible chuckle when she reads the not-zombie’s shirt.

The zombie - alright, if this is going to get any more ridiculous, she can’t be asked to keep a straight face. A glint of interest lights up her gaze as he turns back into a human man and begins his presentation, and when her eyes fall on the red ruby she has the strangest feeling. It’s too vague to be really pinned down - oh, penned down, that’s right, her highlighter is still on the floor.

But then it… isn’t, anymore, when another woman walks by. Venus blinks, and the highlighter is sitting back among its peers, all lined up in rainbow order. Stunned, but not without manners, she mumbles a quiet thank-you to Laine.

Before she can investigate further, someone slides into the seat beside her. She returns the nod distractedly, taking in the slideshow and jotting down notes in her own nearly incomprehensible shorthand. She’s proud of her shorthand, actually. All good scientists need a secret code.

Click. Ok, that’s fine, she can- click click click. She glances over, a little annoyed, only to see- click click clickclickclickclickclick PFSHFT! She jumps in her seat as the pen explodes, little splatters ink splashing onto her desk and up her arm.

The guy next to her - Seven? - takes the brunt of it, and even though it’s his own fault she finds herself digging into her pocket for a handkerchief to offer him. She hands him a square of fabric, taking a second kerchief and using it to attempt to clean up her arm and desk before it dries.

The shenanigans have drawn the attention of the woman sitting in front of her, and Venus offers her a sheepish smile. “Ah, just a moment.”

She sets the handkerchief down once she’s reasonably sure she’s done all she can, and hesitates only a moment before accepting the medallion. For science, she reminds herself. “Yes, I’m alright, thank you.”

Only the medallion doesn’t feel like anything special. She turns it over in her hands, even holding it up to the light of the projector screen. She gets that odd feeling again - it feels almost like multiplying zero by zero. She doesn’t know where the impression comes from, only that it’s persistent.

A question comes her way from Mr. Pen-Exploder. She gives him a glance, trying not to seem too judgemental. First impressions are important, and she has to make a good one. She keeps her voice low, hoping not to disturb the people around her. “Venus. I think we should be paying attention to the presentation, but uh.”

She looks at the trinket in her hands, then hands it over to Seven with a smile that’s just a tinge too interested in the outcome of this choice. “What are you going to do?”

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Laine was not certain that assignment of an ACF-707 specimen was a desirable outcome. It seemed to her like there ought to be better options available within the Foundation. Perhaps other anomalous means would be of assistance rather than the continuous presence of ACF-707.

Laine was aware that most Foundation personnel were not as concerned by this idea as she was, and she found that concerning as well. ACF-707 had already permeated a great deal of the Foundation, and Laine was spending far too much time contemplating this possibility when she should have been listening to Agent Phillips. She checked her mindset, then a slight frown crossed her features.

ACF-707 was, or perhaps it was not, and never had been, or perhaps it always had been and certainly would continue to be. A short sigh was let go, annoyed. "It does not make it any better if you are not there," she stated, firmly, to no one in particular: or to one in particular, whether or not the particular one was choosing to be at this particular moment. In fact, Laine was of the opinion that it made it worse, because she had to deal with a non-presence, which was not the same as a presence or an absence. A non-presence couldn't be asked to stay or leave, because it wasn't.

Laine considered that matter concluded, or at least as concluded as it was going to be. "Agent Phillips, you are aware that team is already part of the abbreviation for STLH and redundant appellation is unnecessary." This was not a question. "Which is-" "Cantrille, is it necessary for security or polite in the context? No? Then it's not your department." "-Not my department. But also untidy. What parameters does the Foundation use to determine whether they should intervene with a Group of Interest?"
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Mr. Johnson shuffled quietly into the presentation room. He wasn't necessarily supposed to be there just yet, but no one seemed to object to him listening in to presentations in the past. After all, he was technically Foundation staff! Quietly humming a tune stuck firmly in his head, he stayed quiet and in the back until an unfortunate incident with a pen prompted his motion toward a young couple of kids with ink splattered over them.

They seemed particularly good at cleaning themselves so he didn't offer anything to them unless they asked, preferring to clean the ink off the floor instead. He started by using paper towels to remove any excess or pooled ink, then, in his cleaning bucket, he removed a quarter-full bottle of vinegar and a small spray bottle of water. First, he poured the vinegar on the floor, then he spritzed the area with water, then he wiped. Repeating this process a handful of times, Mr. Johnson was able to completely remove the ink from the floor.

He didn't really listen or pay attention to anyone that might look in his direction, in his many years of experience as a custodian, most people were a little embarrassed when he cleaned up near them if the mess was directly their fault. He didn't mind the job, it was something to do, and he liked making things clean again. So he kept his eyes focused as he had no desire to make anyone feel awkward or embarrassed as a result of his work. Standing back up with a grunt, Goddess knows he was getting old, Mr. Johnson smiled at anyone who looked his way and made his way back to the back of the room.

While he walked back, Agent Hope Phillips responded to a question about amnestics. Mr. Johnson smiled at her answer too, he had been given amnestics many times- many in the Foundation didn't remember doing it due to Her work on his files. But he remembered, She made sure he remembered. He had also been given therapeutic treatment for his traumatic experiences, but he didn't feel traumatized in the least! Mr. Johnson thought he might be the most blessed man in the whole dreaming world, and that thought too made him smile.

Leaning against the wall, the old custodian listened again to the events and educational presentations unfolding around him. He loved learning!
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Hope proved herself quite accustomed to anomalous behavior on the part of agents by ignoring the way Cantrille talked to herself. Whatever was or was not there was irrelevant to her part of the presentation, which meant that she could wait for the security agent's attention to return to the topic, and could let the correction about STLH teams roll off her back without commenting on how much easier it was to say than the plural of H. To do or say otherwise would be a waste of breath.

“Another good question. Because our first purpose is containment, there are two ways GoIs can guarantee Foundation intervention. The first is by openly exposing the public to the existence of the anomalous. Without going into detail, that always results in a ripple effect that does more harm than good, often attracting attention from or even causing the formation of other GoIs and resulting in the death or worse of civilians. Cops aren't that bad about this and even cooperate with our STLH teams in cover-up, but it's for this reason we keep an eye on cults and corpos. The other way a GoI can guarantee our attention is by causing conflict with assets on the field intentionally, or initiating raids on our sites. Groups like GoI 823, The Fear Factory, are especially notorious for this. Not only does this active aggression make them a security risk, it's caused bodily and mental endangerment of our personnel. Which often makes it personal for other personnel, makes them sloppy, leads down a whole other rabbit hole of internal problems. Besides, of course, the obvious risk of information breach. There is a third, smaller sub-group of Foundation offshoots that we keep an eye on, but which are often ultimately harmless, because they ultimately know and do what we know and do.”

She didn't seem to notice Mr. Johnson standing in the back of the room. She had seen him, of course, but he'd already shown that he'd done what he'd come to do - his job, as custodian and Class-A personnel. Nothing here was a secret, anyway. All staff should know these procedures and their purpose, in her opinion, and nobody else seemed inclined to send him away. Besides, with 007 here, his services would be needed again by the end of the lecture.
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Everyone was a critic. Whether it be snickers or a brief reprimand, Seven paid it no mind. It would not be the first time he caused trouble, and--depending on whether his luck decided to kill him one day--it would not be his last. His attention drew away from the new girl for a moment.

To the resident sunflower of the group.

Seven made an "ok" sign with his un-inked hand, "Perfectly dandy, Peppy!"

His attention ran back to the new girl cleaning herself up. That was not good. Usually, his bad/good luck would ensure he suffered the brunt or all the consequences of his shenanigans. His eyes watch carefully as the new girl tried examining the necklace.

Before handing it to him. He blinked for a moment. Normally, a little more convincing was necessary, but this worked just fine. Seven gave an impish grin as he snatched the necklace from Venus. A brief chuckle followed as a devilish smile crossed his face as he clawed the medallion in his palm.

Before stopping and coughing into his fist. His expression muted and eyes drew back to Venus.

"Venus is a beautiful name. You'll do fantastic here," Seven waved the medallion in the air, "Now, behold my new trick!"

Seven grabbed the reins of the medallion before . . . simply putting it on around his neck. With a confident smirk and crossing his arms, Seven waited with eyes closed. And waited. And waited a bit more. He felt nothing. Nobody was freaking out nor was anyone sounding impressed. He opened one eye. Nothing was happening. Not even a single goosebump was to be had.

"Uh," Seven shook the medallion while frowning before he began humming, "Uh, I'm gonna pop some tags. Got twenty dollars . . . in my . . . pocket . . . "

Seven scratched the side of his head in both confusion and secondhand embarrassment. The medallion was killing him here!

"I could have sworn it would have hated music. Or me. But nothing?" Seven's memories ran all the way back to every anomaly that had a terrible reaction to him, "That's a first."

The chair scraped backwards hard and fast as Seven stood up from his seat before removing the medallion and clutching his fist around the chain. A brief wink towards Venus followed.

"Time for plan B."

Swinging the medallion around like a Biblical hero and his slingshot, Seven's smile grew wider as he swung it at vicious speed before turning around and launching it straight at the projector.

Until a different force took its hand around gravity, aerodynamics, and simply direction itself. The medallion, for a moment, seemed to slip forward for a moment.

Before rocketing towards a different direction without Seven's approval. The flying arrow of metal and ruby charged forward through the air straight for Harold Stines's head.

What a collision course that was about to me. Anyone have any pain killers on hand?
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Amnestics efficacy mutable. Catian scribbled the note in summation, less for his own understanding and more for appearances. He had, of course, read as much many years ago, though he had to admit to a bit of surprise the Foundation had not seemed to find more reliable means. Particularly with Anomalies like 707 who could handle widespread instances single-handedly if the inclination were found. He glanced to the painted lady as he returned his pen to its proper place carefully. Even if she had been noticed, if she had wanted to be noticed, her presence was hardly enough to give away his identity. It seemed there was an understanding between them, and Catian was honestly flattered that she would take the time to keep a multifaceted eye on him. Even if it were at Rex’s behest Catian was glad for her presence.

The conversation turned then to Groups of Interest, hardly named appropriately in Catian’s opinion, though he could understand why the Foundation would disagree. It only took a single Anomaly in the wrong hands to cause a break in their order. The topic, however, did not lead well into the question he had in mind, the reason he had decided to break the camouflage of Harold’s lackluster career to join the newer assets and the older lecturers. 707 knew his presence despite the disguise, and it was possible others could find reason to suspect Harold Stines might be more than meets the eye.

Venus played to Seven’s whim, a side note that Catian would have dismissed had he not been keenly aware of the boy’s propensity for being the center of disruption. Had he been there as himself he might have shifted his attention to Seven fully, curiously watching how the medal and the boy interacted. Harold Stines, however, had not been given permission to access ACF-007. Despite the volume of the boy’s attempt to impress, growing ever louder as the medallion predictably did nothing around his neck, Catian kept Harold’s eyes on his notes. Even as probability bent at an impossible angle and turned the hurled Anomaly back toward the front of the room Catian maintained the air of a studious and oblivious researcher, save a barely whispered breath to his six legged observer.

”You would step in if it were Rex.” He knew she wouldn’t, could feel her intention to let the medallion follow its path and potentially out Catian as the interloper that he was. He couldn’t blame her for it; he was more than capable of defending himself as she well knew, and her interests were almost obsessively fixed upon Rex and his compatriots. Catian was not only a potential threat, but also decidedly not a part of the Foundation by his own choosing. It was only natural that she would let things happen as they would.

It was only natural that Catian took the blow from the heavy medal, though he had to feign the expected reaction. In the instant the Anomaly struck the back of his head he reviewed his options, played out in his mind how Harold Stines would potentially react to what might seem a blatant attack. He let the force of the medal’s strike push his head forward, just a few centimeters before instantly reaching his hand back to grab at the location of the blow. This would hide any expected swelling or blood, should anyone be observant enough to note the absence of damage.

Harold jumped to his feet, face twisted in a grimace as he wheeled around to face the young man who had lobbed a piece of metal at his cranium. ”OW! What the hell, man!?” An expected response before he picked up the medal, cataloguing the Order and data it had gathered. As with most Anomalies there was more than met the eye within the cold metal. ”If you wanna throw things go play outside like a kid. Some of us are here to actually learn and be of some use to the Foundation.”

Catian held the medal in the palm of his hand, turning back to the front of the room as he sat back at his desk. He could almost hear 707’s amusement. ”I guess you at least opened the floor for my question, so thanks I guess.” He glanced down at the painted lady again, pushing an impression of a child making faces at the knotted consciousness behind it. ”We use other Anomalies to test the various properties of each other fairly often, but what happens when they are not compatible? Specifically in cases where they could be considered something like enemies?”

Harold had been with the Foundation long enough that it was likely he should know the answer to such a question, so Catian pushed a bit further to narrow down the scope. ”Like what if two Leviathan class objects decided they wanted to fight? What are the protocols and safety measures in place if something like that occurs?” That was a normal enough question for a researcher to ask, given their likely proximity to such an encounter.
Mr. Johnson had come into the room to tidy things. Laine appreciated Mr. Johnson. She wasn't good with people, but he was easier for her to comprehend than most. He knew where he belonged, and he liked things to be tidy. He often showed up when she wasn't able to tidy things herself. Research analysis thus far had shown no evidence of this being an anomalous interaction. It was simply that he was good at his job, and he went where he was needed. Sometimes Laine wondered if there was a slightly anomalous aspect to knowing where things needed to be tidied, but in this case ACF-007 was present, which was statistically likely to imply that things required cleaning. ACF-707 was also anomalously likely to set things outside his direct self into order, so it was entirely possible that his anomaly was the reason for Mr. Johnson's appearance.

Agent Phillips answered the question, which was very interesting. Laine liked understanding how things worked, even if it was not likely that she would ever interact with GoIs. It was best for all considered that she remain at L-14. Also, she was not good with people, and interacting with GoIs required a certain threshold of being good with people. The Foundation had metrics for that and Laine did not meet them.

ACF-007 was examining ACF-255, which seemed resistant to his aura. Laine hoped that this had been established under prior conditions, with proper security and a researcher present to record interactions. ACF-007 seemed nonplussed by the interaction, which unfortunately implied that it had not. That was not tidy. Of course, Dr. Redd was the senior research agent present, and he had requested that ACF-007 and others be given a chance to examine it, and she was a security agent present, so perhaps this was the interaction, done under abnormal conditions in order to ensure that ACF-007 was not aware he was being tested. Laine hoped that Dr. Redd wrote up the paperwork on the interaction in a timely fashion.

The anomalous interaction came to a conclusion with a breach. It was a minor breach, of course, but it was still an anomaly acting in ways that were contraindicated by its paperwork, and in this particular case, the action had been deliberate. The man at the front desk, who was Harold Stines, retrieved the anomaly after being struck, but was not damaged by it. Curious. He was Harold Stines? Laine felt something there, an uncertainty. She did not like uncertainties.

She also had other things that she did not like. She remained seated, for now, a still figure in black-and-white-over-gray body armor that fit her perfectly, as it should. She had certainly always been wearing it, this entire meeting. Agent Cantrille's attention was entirely on the potential breach at this point, as it needed to be.

"Dr. Redd, would you like me to recontain the anomaly?" The question was not asked loudly. It was, in fact, said quite softly. That did not keep it from being perfectly audible, because the inquiry fell into a place where the conversation and other noises in the room had stopped. Of course such pauses were naturally occurring and there was no reason to think otherwise. The hush was just something that happened, though it certainly served to emphasize the situation. There was something of a pause in effect, while things were sorted out.

It was best to do things quickly, before they became more untidy.
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Seven puts the amulet on and… nothing happens. Venus sits with her hands folded politely in her lap, wondering if this is just an elaborate build-up or something, and keeps wondering that up until he stands up. She catches the wink and her alarm only grows.

“Hey, wait a-” she warns, half-standing out of her chair, but she’s already too late. The medallion flies towards the projector, and then just as quickly reverses direction. She ducks needlessly, as it flies well past her and instead collides with the back of the head of someone sitting in front of them.

Her hand flies to her mouth, horrified, and she sits back down abruptly. Oh no. Oh, no. Some instinct has her shrinking in her chair, trying to make herself seem smaller, like less of an accomplice to this crime.

There’s some kind of a tug at the back of her head like someone pulling on her ponytail, but when Venus twists slightly around she only sees Laine seated a little ways behind her, her hands to herself. She’s wearing a different outfit - improbably, though it does suit her - and looks ready to drag Seven out by his ear. Oh dear.

Venus is too aware that it isn’t her place to try to mediate or reprimand, and can only hope with quiet horror that she isn’t in trouble for enabling the necklace-throwing antics of a man she only met today.

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