DATE: 6/29/23 LOCATION: L-14 ASSETS: ACF-7823-A, “Peppers”; Venus Votticelli-Smith EQUIPMENT: What is needed PURPOSE:Introduction to Labratory Settings
Pepper was in the teaching laboratory on the ground floor. It was the least secure lab in the entire facility and required only Class-A clearance. Practically any agent or researcher could access it, as its purpose was solely to teach interns. Some researchers who had been demoted to Class-A were forced to go through the intern lectures again in this location. That day, Pepper was doing the dry run with the new interns. It was an introduction to the layout of the labs, more than anything else. Lab safety, where to locate eye baths and washing stations, the purpose of some of the more complicated equipment, the works.
She’d just finished with the main group, and they were shuffling out of the room. Pepper had her back turned to the door as she reset the lab. She turned off all the machines and replaced the items she’d taken out. The next day, she’d have everyone walk through with her individually to indicate they’d remembered everything she’d told them, or so she could correct any mistakes they made. Then they would be off to their assigned Class-Cs, with Pepper herself taking on a few of them.
She checked her list. A few of the interns hadn’t managed to make it in that day. She marked off the names of everyone who had made it through. She circled the names of the missing ones. She’d have to seek all of them out individually, to make sure they had the lab tour before reporting to their assigned Class-Cs. In particular, she noticed that one of her own assigned interns, Miss Venus, had not yet arrived for the walk-through. This wasn’t that concerning- many people had different schedules, and she was sure the young woman would show up soon enough.
Venus has been lost for the better part of an hour. First she was just wandering down a hallway she thought led to the room she wanted to get to, but then someone in a lab coat saw her and asked for her help carrying some boxes, and then she was in an entirely different place and had to backtrack and now she’s so late.
She’s too nervous to try any of the closed doors she passes because she doesn’t want to wander into something dangerous like everyone’s been warning her about. Peeking through viewing windows and pretending to know where she’s going can only get her so far, so when she sees an open door she practically sprints towards it. If a sprint looked like a very controlled fast walk, at least.
Someone’s singing inside. Whoever it is has a nice voice, high and pretty. Venus hesitates with her hand on the door. She doesn’t want to interrupt.
But her hand slips and the door starts to close and she panics. She slides through the gap before her opportunity can slip away, already mentally preparing her apologies. The door clicks shut behind her.
“Um, hello- Oh!” This is where she was supposed to be! Her eyes light up as she looks around the room, the lab familiar after a few weeks of training here.
“I am so sorry I’m late.” Venus clasps her hands together in front of her chest, taking a few steps inside now that she’s confident she’s allowed to be in here. The room is entirely empty of people save for herself and Pepper, so she must’ve missed the last session. The one she was supposed to be in, oh no.
Pepper jolted, nearly dropping the jars in her hand. She turned around, her voice cutting out as she did. Then she smiled, breathing out in a sigh. She vaguely recognized the girl to be Venus. She had been at a few of the earlier safety meetings, and they had met at the meeting earlier that month. She put the jar down and fully turned around, straightening her lab coat out over her warm brown pinafore. “You’re Venus, right? Lovely to see you again. Don’t worry too much about being late, you’re not the only one who failed to show up. Dahlia was supposed to come as well, but I doubt we’ll be seeing her.”
Pepper stepped away from the counter behind her, gesturing for Venus to come further into the room. “We can still go over the briefing and get you up to speed if you’d like. It isn’t too difficult, it’s really just a few questions and some demonstrations to ensure you have everything down before we have you sent to your assigned Class-C. Which is me, actually! So we’ll be working together for a while. I hope you’re okay with that!”
Pepper stopped walking when she got to the front of the workstations, leaning back against one. Her lab coat fell open to reveal her whole outfit. It was definitely not up to the Foundation’s dress code. But Pepper had never really worried about that. While Kallie might wear grey pants and a black turtleneck every day, Pepper had never feared reprimand for expressing herself. She had been chided for it, once, by a Class-D who had long since transferred. But given their location manager wore science pun shirts and brightly colored basketball shoes, she hadn’t really taken it to heart. She viewed the dress code more as a “suggestion” than mandatory.
Venus takes an aborted step closer as Dr. Pepper flinches, hands outstretched as though to catch her even though she’s much too far away to do anything of the sort. She relaxes a little when the doctor catches herself, straightening up and dusting invisible dirt off her vest.
“It’s nice to see you again as well!” She returns, following the gesturing motions and looking around to see what she might be guiding them towards. “Yes please, if it isn’t too much trouble.”
She pauses at the revelation that she’ll be continuing her work with the woman, not out of disappointment or anything but just out of surprise. “Oh! Yes, that’s fine. I mean, I’m ex- uh, happy to be working with you.”
What’s the right way to respond without revealing that she’s relieved she’s been paired with the bubbly doctor rather than some other lab-coated individual? Oh, that sounds a little rude now that she thinks of it that way. She’s sure the other researchers here are very nice, it’s just that they tend to do more ordering and less asking most of the time. Or some of them do, anyways.
Which is fine! It’s just - ah, what’s the point she doesn’t have to justify this to herself.
And by this point it’s been too long to segue into a polite handshake. Darn. When she wanders out of her thoughts again it’s to notice Dr. Pepper’s outfit. “Oh I love your dress.”
Wait, is it okay to comment on the dress? Of course there’s a dress code - Venus has read the manual cover to cover - and this doesn’t follow it but she’s absolutely not going to tell. Did that give the wrong impression?
A little frazzled, she forges on. “Yes, demonstrations. Questions. Questions and demonstrations. I can do both! Or one first. Whatever works.”
She shuts her mouth before she can keep rambling nonsense.
Pepper grinned at the girl’s attempts to mask her enthusiasm. There was a lot of relief in the way she said she was happy they’d be working together more. Maybe she had been worried she’d be stuck with someone like Dr. Hester or Dr. Rodriguez, both of whom had reputations for being “no fun”. She grinned wider at the comment about her dress and gave a happy little laugh.[ “Thank you! I made the dress myself. It's relatively new, I think I’ve only worn it once before.”
She waved her hand like that wasn’t an important thing, like it didn’t say something about her as a person. Kallie would surely have broken down what it meant about her, but this girl wasn’t Kallie. Pepper bounced up on her heels and then stood up straight, her lab coat floating a little ways off her tight-clad legs. “Let’s begin, okay? We’ll start with the questions. The first one is regarding safety stations. I just need you to identify the three following things: the eye wash station, the emergency shower, and the first aid station.”
She waved her arms wide, gesturing for her to identify the stations she had requested. Pepper knew exactly where they were in the chemistry lab, but it also should have been obvious to just about everyone with functional eyes. Two of them were right next to each other, and the other had a fold-out shelf underneath it for emergencies. They weren’t exactly hidden. This was one of their more standard labs, though several other styles existed in the facility. Those ones would be explained in the future by other Class-Cs to their individual Class-Bs, as the only one that Pepper taught was the standard lab.
Pepper hummed a few lines from the song she’d been singing before Venus had walked into the room.
Venus quickly shifts into a serious, determined expression, ready for whatever Dr. Pepper throws at her, but it falls slightly as she registers the simplicity of the question. “Oh! Um.”
With a quick glance around, she points out the eye wash and emergency shower, both with clear signage around them. “There are the showers, and the first aid kit is over there.”
Her finger shifts smoothly to indicate the first aid station with its fold-out shelf. She’d memorized the layout within the first few days. It’s similar enough to most of the labs they have at school. Then her hand lowers, and she considers Dr. Pepper’s dress again briefly. She wants to ask a question, but she can’t decide if it’s too unprofessional.
“You make your own clothes?” She flushes, surprised at her own voice. Too eager. She quickly pushes on, “I do too! Or, sometimes. Mostly accessories. But I’ve been wanting to get into clothes more.”
Be brave. This is fine, it’s a normal question to ask. “Do you have any tips?”