In a World of Endless Wonder, sometimes the wonder gets a little hectic and sometimes, it can be a true wonder. Here we list some events around the Warehouse that were worthy of writing down in the agents log.
- 1 Abigail Chow
- 2 Aden Taylor
- 3 Artie Nielsen (Database)
- 4 Blaine Biston
- 5 Brady Brown
- 6 Bri Rependata
- 7 Claudia Donovan
- 8 Felix Draco
- 9 Garrett Graham
- 10 Helena Wells
- 11 Hugo Miller
- 12 Irene Frederic
- 13 James McPherson
- 14 Joeseph Barlett
- 15 Leena
- 16 Mark Monroe
- 17 Matt Sordens
- 18 Myka Bering
- 19 Megan Wilcoxson
- 20 Merle Vennuto
- 21 Nick Renson
- 22 Nikki Nola
- 23 Oto Barry
- 24 Paracelsus
- 25 Pete Lattimer
- 26 Sandy Calecer
- 27 Steve Jinks
- 28 Tyler Lepido
- 29 Vanessa Calder
Searching for Rapture
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"There's nothing there, Juan."
"Pfft, you don't know that!"
"Yeah, I do."
Aden and Juan were wandering the stacks while the former did inventory. Currently, they were arguing over the existence, or lack thereof, of the famed Bioshock city of Rapture. Aden, not being a fan of the series, was firmly in the negative about what he called "Atlantis circa 1950" while the Mage was a proud fan and was determined to prove his friend wrong.
"Why are you so obsessed about finding that city? It's just Atlantis dipped into a paint bucket labelled "the '50s". For the billionth time, Rapture does not exist!" Aden continued, checking off another artifact on the list.
"I can prove it! I saw a spire in the middle of the Atlantic when I was flying just a few days ago!" Juan affirmed.
"Pfft, baloney. No chance."
"Fine, then let's make a bet."
Aden looked up, giving Juan his full attention. "Go on..."
"If I'm right, you have to play Bioshock, and then spend the whole week in form-fitting tights." the Mage said smugly.
"Okay, but if I'M right, you have to wear a bikini for a week. Deal?" Juan's eyes widened at the though, but shook hands.
Aden finished up inventory then followed Juan out of the building. Cloaking the two from sight, he followed Juan to the coordinates.
Miles later, they arrived at the coordinates. "Ready to be proven wrong bud?"
"I won't be because it shouldn't exist."
"Neither should the Warehouse but look where we work."
"Good point, but behold! No lighthouse." Aden gestured theatrically to an empty spot of land.
Juan stared. "But I... saw..."
"Being out at sea makes people see things!" Aden patted his friend's shoulder. "Now let's go-" Before Aden could finish, Juan dived toward the island. "Hey!" Aden objected, following.
When the two landed, the were able to see that, at some point, there HAD been a structure here. Unfortunately, there was nothing left but a wrench.
The Art of Reading War
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Soldiers approached from all sides, marching through the Warehouse or barreling down aisles with weapons drawn. It seemed that every army in history had come together to besiege the Warehouse. Spartans and Mongols sprinted along side German footsoldiers and the Swiss Guard, paying no mind to each other. Every man with a weapon wanted a piece of the Warehouse crew, who were currently hiding in the Pete Cave.
The team looked scared as they faced Artie, who had assumed the role of commander. "Felix, I need you and Nikki in the rafters. Man the bungee and mortar as many as you can!"
With a quick salute, Felix and Nikki were gone, scurrying up the narrow stairs to the iron beams above.
"Agent Jinks, get the Red Baron and gun down as many as you can. Lattimer and Donovan, on McQueen's bike with some Teslas or Sabines. They won't know what hit them. The rest of you, you're all trained in some kind of weapon. Get out there and try and thin their numbers."
Aden, Bri, Tyler, Blaine, Matt and Rick saluted and ran from the office. Artie could hear the sound of yelling mixed with the roar of engines. Every now and then, a loud crash indicated agents Nola and Draco were doing their part. "Now," Artie said to himself, "To take on their commanding officer."
With the soldiers distracted, Artie could move around the Warehouse in relative safety. Three or four times he encountered some adversaries and dispatched them with nearby artifacts. He was feeling quite proud of himself for sending seven Conquistadors flying with a strike from Ralph Kramden's Bowling Ball when he reached the library.
He flung open the door and paced down some shelves before finding the one who kept sending the soldiers to destroy his team. Myka sat in a large armchair, thick headphones muffling out the sound of Artie's approach. He'd find out later that they were to stop the noise from Pete and Claudia's game of library Nerf-tag from distracting her. Artie strode forward and tore the scroll she was reading from her hands and dumped it in a static bag.
"What the hell, Artie!" exclaimed the surprised agent. Artie grabbed her arm and turned her towards a window, where the soldiers were crumpling and vanishing like paper in a fire. Wordlessly he handed Myka paper label and a broom and left the library. Myka looked down at the paper, an artifact information tag, and suddenly felt very guilty. With a sigh, she walked back out into the main Warehouse and began sweeping some plaster and cannon shells into a corner.
On the tag where she left it, at the very top in bold black type read: Sun Tzu's "The Art of War"; WARNING: DO NOT READ!
Just the Doctor
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"Isn't there anything you can do, Doctor?" The cockney voice of the aging Londoner was filled with concern.
The Doctor sighed and pushed his glasses up with his fingertips, stopping to rest them on his forehead. "Not this time, Judy. The Daleks have the station. Everyone down there is dead because I couldn't save them. They've won."
She ran up to him and grabbed his arm, eliciting no reaction from his broken face. "But you're the Doctor, yeah? You've saved blimmin' space whales, and stopped the Joodon and married Queen Vic and survived it all. You can't give up now. We need you too keep going. 'Cause there are still people out there fighting for you, and even if they're all gonna die, they deserve to know that you tried 'til the end."
She gave him a sharp punch in the shoulder. "So you get your fancy-pants alien brain working, get off your sorry arse and you be The Doctor!"
He looked up and saw the fierceness in her eyes. The fire of a mother who had a young girl who needed her at home. And his eyes lit up. "YES! Absolutely! I AM the Doctor! And I am not letting these worked up Roomba's beat us!"
Judy tilted her head. "The hell's a Roomba?"
But the Doctor was filled with the feverant energy that he only had when an idea was forming. "Judes, I need you to get to the TARDIS. Under the console, fourth side, ninth drawer, second compartment. There's a little bit on wire in the shape of a goldfish. I need you to grab it for me."
Judy stood and recited it back. "Forth, Ninth, Second Goldfish, got it." She ran into the blue box and had barely yanked the drawer open when the doors swung shut behind her.
"I'm so sorry, Judy." A hologram of the Doctor flickered into life, staring right through her. "Im so sorry. I can't do it. I'm programming the TARDIS to take you home. Live your life. Forget about me. Your Lily needs you." Judy Tyler could barely see through her tears. A stream of curses, made all the harsher by her London accent, came from her mouth.
Back in the station, the Doctor watched as the doors were blown open, and as the Daleks moved in. The burning pain as their laser burned through his body. The rest was a blur. The TARDIS back. Judy back, but different. NAUGHTY DOG and the time vortex. And then the golden light as regeneration set in. He remembered his last words. "I was great. And you know what Judy? So were you."
Reality burst through his mind. "Up you get, Stephen." He was hauled to his feet by Artie, the stocky senior agent of Warehouse 13. Everything came flooding back. The ping, the flight back to his hometown. And the artifact. The large blue telephone box.
"How long was I in there for?" Stephen rubbed his temple as the memories of his dream settled in his mind.
"Only...five minutes." Artie checked his watch. "I'm betting it felt a bit longer."
"Centuries. So much happened. I remember it all. I have to write his down! Some things could do with changing, though."
"I was afraid that would happen. Lucky for you, Mr. Kosan also thinks it's time for a revival. He's set up a meeting with the BBC board. I'm sure they'd be happy to hear about it." He offered his hand to the bewildered agent. "Good luck, Mr. Davies. Look after the box. I'd hate for there to be a reason for me to come back for it."
The Butler Never Does It
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Insert the entire full recap here.
Seeker And You Shall Receive
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Bri and Matt came rushing into the Convention Aisle as fast as they could. Blaine had sent them a panicked Farnsworth message requesting help, and all three of them dropped what they were doing to see what was wrong.
In the Aisle, Blaine was standing next to the display meant for Dante Vale's Overcoat and the Caliban Amulet. When he and Nikki went to wrangle the Mortal Kombat artifacts at a convention, he had ditched his Orange Dino Gem in favor of the coat and amulet. What was peculiar was that while the coat was back on the stand, the amulet was missing from it's stand.
"Blaine, what did you do now?" Bri said noticing the missing artifact, "You'd better not be tinkering with the..." She looked to Matt and then to the information display, '...Caliban Amulet. Last time you got lucky with the Dino Gem, but lightning doesn't always strike twice."
"Actually it does, scientifically speaking," Blaine said, his hands jammed in his pants pockets, "But that's not why I called you here...." He pulled the amulet out and placed it on the display...only to have it zip right back into his pocket. Looking at he co-workers, Blaine stared at them, "That's why."
Bri shook her head, "Huntik is not my fandom...I'll go grab Felix or Aden. Between the two of them, they should have an answer."
Matt instead shook his head and laughed a bit, "No need Bri, as hard as it is to believe, this is my fandom we're dealing with here."
Bri raised an eyebrow, "You? Part of a fandom? I find that hard to believe. Even using your abilities, you should only know the-"
Matt cut her off, "Don't worry Blaine, you see the Amulet and Titan inside is typically bonded to the person wearing the coat, but in your case, you kept the coat on for so long that the Titan has fully become bonded to you. You now have a pet swordsmand, and when coupled with the coat, you'll have access to spells too."
Blaine stared at Matt for a few seconds, "...This is even better than the Dino Gem! I've gotta show Felix!"
As Blaine bolted down the aisle towards his Felix's Workshop, Matt turned to a shocked Bri, "Funny, I was expecting a bit more fear..."
Abra Abra Cadraba
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Garrett barely dodged out of the way of a flame pillar that erupted from the ground, nearly charring his Pegasus wings, "I thought you told Tyler to stop making artifacts!"
"It isn't his! The fact that his homebrewed Crystalmante class for Pathfinder just happened to be a hit has nothing to do with this!" Blaine ran for cover as a ghostly familiar gave chase. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out an amulet, "Caliban!"
A blue and grey swordsman with long white hair materialized in front of Blaine, bringing it's wickedly curved blade down on upon the familiar, slicing it to shreds.
Blaine and Garrett had been sent by Artie to go to Brazil to investigate a mage who was using gemstones to cast spells. What started as a small act was now turning into a crime spree after the 'mage' turned several guards to pure gold. To quote him, "This artifact is Cortes's Espada Ropera, Dante Alighieri's Death Mask, and the Portal Gun in one."
"If it isn't the Crystalmante," Garrett asked as he fired a pink rainbow at it, causing the mage to dive for cover "Then what is it?"
Blaine tried to focus, trying to remember what Tyler had told him about he class he had designed. It was a few days after the Professor Layton/Ace Attorney crossover game had been released and Blaine was listening to him go on about how he really wanted to love the game, but there were flaws, especially in the plot. In the classic Layton plot twist, hypnotism was involved that stopped people from seeing pure black. As for the magic though...
"The Talae Magica. All you need to know is that the staff she's holding can only hold two gemstones at a time, thus two spells." Blaine pulled out his iPad and began searching, "If the gems here act like Felicia Castillo's Pendant set, there should be one gem or spell that will shut them down."
Garrett flew a bit higher to get a better view, "Uh...Blaine...our mystery mage is gone."
Blaine looked up, "What do you mean 'gone'? She only had the fire spell and summoning spell, she'd have to manually desocket and resocket the Dimere gem."
"That's not all I switched..." a voice called out from nowhere, yet nearby Blaine, "Goldor."
Caliban arched his back in pain as he slowly began to turn to solid gold and shattered, sending the essence of the Titan back to its amulet, sucking a bit of energy out of Blaine. As he looked up, the mage began to materialized, holding the double-headed snake scepter and began moving towards the HARP Consultant.
Garrett divebombed in, blasting the Mage, causing him to trip and fall. The mage tried to crawl away, but the winged agent landed on his robes, pinning him and picking up the Talae Magica with a purple gloved hand.
Blaine now stood up and smiled, "Found the 'shut off' spell. We shouldn't have to goo the staff and gems if this works." Looking down at the tablet, he read off a single word, "Taelende."
A shimmering black haze appeared to lift off the staff and out of the robes, indicating several more gemstones.
As the two agents packed up the artifacts, Garrett looked to Blaine, I can see why Tyler chose to base a class on this artifact, it has the potential to be extremely powerful."
Blaine shrugged, "Well, never judge a stone by its weight."
He Who Is Worthy
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"Pete, it's me Blaine...I could use you in the Comic Vault. Something weird is going on...I'm not sure what's wrong or even what these artifacts are."
Lattimer hadn't been expecting H.A.R.P.'s Ex-Eureka boy to call him, but ever since Tyler and Bri had been taking time off to plan their wedding, H.A.R.P. had been leaning on the Warehouse Staff more than ever.
"Why aren't you calling Aden then?" Pete asked between cookie bites, "He's better at that stuff than me."
Blaine shook his head, "This isn't his brand of 'weird'. This is your kind of weird."
Entering the Vault, Pete was a bit thrown off that lights were dimmed, but shrugged it off as he went to go meet Blaine who was standing in front of a circular slab of seven long handled hammers, four of which were glowing.
"There you are," Blaine nodded, "I found these while doing inventory, and they aren't on the list. Artie says that they've always been here, but when I mentioned that over half of them were glowing, it caught him off guard. Goo isn't doing anything, and they're like Thor's Hammer, impossible to move."
Pete looked them over quietly with a look in interest on his face, "This should get moved to the Dark Vault if this is what I think it is."
The serious tone threw Blaine for a loop, "What?"
Standing up, Pete gestured to them, "Hammers of the Worthy. In 2011, Marvel did a storyline where hammers, these hammer, were sent to earth by Cul, Odin's brother. Each one holds the spirit of a destructive force and can only be used by the one who, like Thor's Hammer, is worthy." Pete pointed and named them off, "Kuurth: Breaker of Stone," a hammer that looked like an over-sized pill, "Nul: The Breaker of Worlds," the hammer was a rectangular prism, but had a pyramid on one end, "Skirn, the Breaker of Men," similar to the previous, but was longer and more slender, "Nekkrod: Breaker of Oceans," this one looked similar to a normal hammer with a hook on the end and a flat head, "Mokk: Breaker of Faith," this one looked like an anvil on a long handle, "Greithoth: Breaker of Wills, " Unlike the others, this one had a chain on the end instead of a long handle, "and Angir: Breaker of Souls." The last appeared to be a large version of the tool used to put criss-cross patterns on peanut butter cookies.
Of the seven, the first four he'd named off were glowing, but Nekkrod's wasn't as bright.
As Blaine took this in, Blaine had an idea, "You said that this was Marvel, right?"
Pulling out his tablet, Blaine opened his Facebook, "Tyler had been trying to get me to play one of those Facebook games, Marvel Avengers Alliance..." Going into the app he searched around, "...and here could be why the hammers are glowing." He turned the screen so Pete could see, "The Worthy are alternate outfits. She-Hulk, Luke Cage, Spider-Woman...they all have one."
"And what about Nekkrod?" Pete asked.
Doing a bit of searching on the web, Blaine pulled up a picture of Mockingbird in the Worthy armor, "We have a winner..."
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"If I had known that we'd be running all day, I would've brought my sneakers..." Nikki said as she rubbed her heels.
"Nikki, I have been waiting my entire life to do this," Bri said as she gripped her shopping cart, "Don't take this away from me."
"I'd hate to see you on Black Friday..."
After several berserk shoppers had caused massive damage in a Denver Walmart, Nikki and Bri had been sent in to investigate. The two of them had figured that whenever a person heard a check-out beep, they'd go crazy, and that it was three carts specifically that were the artifacts. A quick search on her phone got Bri excited since they were the carts from a 90s gameshow called "Supermarket Sweep" . As Nikki soon found out, it had been her favorite gameshow growing up, and that they had two ways to neutralize them; either goo all three...or they could do the Big Sweep and the Bonus Round.
Nikki leaned up against the checkout line as Bri began to charge. At the sound of the horn, Bri sped off aiming for the meat section, quickly loading up on the most expensive cuts of beef they had followed by the largest turkeys and hams she could grab.
Speeding on, she hit the cleaner aisle where she started grabbing the largest containers of All. She knew that the carts still worked off the 1994 prices (Nikki had been surprised that Pop-Tarts had once been $1.55 a box), so she had studied the strategies that the winners had used. The deli was her next stop for large wedges of imported cheese and long tubes of salami. After that, it was time to grab coffee which was a bonus $100 to her total. Lucky for her, while the 90s affected the prices, technology remained untouched, meaning her ground coffee took much less time. With this help, she rushed back to the check out and pushed the cart off, catching Nikki off guard as she got a heavy cart slammed into her.
Bri now rushed to the pet section section and adjoining outdoor section where she planned to load up on dog food and charcoal. She may not have been as strong as Matt, but with the adrenaline surging through her, she literally chucked the bags into the cart and grabbed an inflatable Dole Banana as she heard the timer run out.
"Over $1000 dollars in under 3 minutes." Nikki stared at the number on the check-out scanner, "You scare me sometimes Bri."
"It's a gift, as well as a bit of basic math." Bri shrugged as she took the envelope that the cashier handed her. According to Bri's theory, if they managed to find the $5,000 dollars with in 30 seconds of receiving their first clue, the carts would naturally neutralize.
Opening the clue, Bri read it out loud to Nikki, "While Hawaiians may have a lot of soul, you can find some in a can on of ______."
Bri didn't even wait for Nikki as she bolted off towards the canned food aisle, but Nikki kept in tow, "What is it? Hawaiian Punch?"
Bri skidded into the aisle and already had a can of pineapple in hand, "Dole!" She flipped it over and ready the next clue, "Newspaper boys used to yell it, not chew it..."
It was Nikki's turn to leave Bri in the dust as she jumped over several aisles for the Candy Aisle, yelling "Extra Gum! Tyler's addicted to it!" Grabbing the specially marked pack, she read it as Bri met up with her, "To avoid all the fights and scuffles, pick up a big bag of ______." The girls just stared at each other before yelling, "RUFFLES!"
The girls made a mad dash for the chip aisle where they saw the specially marked bag of Ruffles. Behind it was a bundle of $20s. The girls grabbed it as a bell rang off through the store.
"How much clothing did you girls buy?" Tyler asked as he and Matt hauled in another bag of clothing from their car. After they had gotten back, the girls had gone on a shopping spree and the guys were stuck with bring in the bags.
"Enough." Bri said as she tried on a new blouse, "Between the two of us, we're going to have enough clothes to last us for awhile."
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It had been a miracle that the Warehouse was able to get a timeshare in Italy, but after pooling their money together, the agents were able to nab an Italian Villa for a good price.
The only way that they'd be able to take advantage of the deal would be if 8 or more of them went at once, so Bri, Tyler, Blaine, Felix, Aden, Mary, Juan, and Sandy had packed up and headed out for a vacation that would go much better than their Jamaica trip.
Blaine noticed something was wrong the moment they entered the Villa, "Strange...there's no Wi-Fi or cell coverage..."
The others shrugged this off as part of the deal, causing the former Global Dynamic programmer to sulk.
Unpacking had gone without a hitch as the rooms were assigned, but as dinner time rolled around, they were greeted with a second surprise, several chefs and a butler named Giles were waiting for them. After the introductions and welcoming to the villa, the agents sat down to dinner of grilled chicken, salad, and an expensive wine.
Things at dinner were going well...that is until the power suddenly shut off causing a small panic until Giles lit a candelabra that lit the room...and Blaine's body with a cutting knife sticking out of his chest and a napkin stuffed in his mouth.
More panic erupted as Giles ushered them out to into the hall where he explained that he had received instructions that a game would be played during their timeshare. While the butler droned on, the agents didn't need to hear the rest of his speech, they knew what was going on. Memories of Matt and Nikki showing off the 'Whodunnit' Kitchen Knife came back to them, and how they'd all been there to see it, and for one of them to fall victim to it.
Bri gritted her teeth as Giles finished his monologue, "Worse. Timeshare. Ever."
Horror Film Think-tank
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"Okay." Felix said from the white board, "Next up is that chick from 'The Ring'. How do we stop her?"
With the cliche slasher horror film genre picking up steam again with films like Sinister 2, Unfriended, and the announcements of a new Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Leatherface), and Friday the 13th; the most innovative Warehouse Agents and Consultants had formed a thinktank to slow down the other slasher film artifacts in the Warehouse for if, and when, they decided to ride the wave of new slashers.
"Before I ask, was this thing tied to the original Japanese series or the American remake?" Blaine asked, already typing into his laptop, "It makes a difference."
Claudia raised an eyebrow, "Chick crawls out of the TV, what so important?"
"The Japanese version is more powerful," Gellar points out. The former TV-Slayer and HARP Consultant was invited due to the time she'd spent in Hollywood, "American version, she's bound to the tape, the Japanese version can attack through anything that tells her story, books included."
Felix rummaged through a pile of folders until he found the one he was looking for, "Japanese. We have the original one."
"Damn..." Blaine swore, "Okay, so she can basically attack you through your phone, flashdrive, or TV....great."
Gellar got up and looked at the file over Felix's shoulder, "Calm down Tinker, it was collected in 98 and stored in the Dark Vault ever since. I doubt that it know what era it is so it'll still be looking for a VHS and TV."
Blaine calmed down and went back to the laptop, "TV Tropes usually has good suggestions on stopping horror monsters, I'll look there."
Claudia got up and took the marker, "Why not shut the TV off? Or just unplug it?" she noted it on the board under a list called 'Weaknesses'
Felix shook his head and grabbed a red marker and made a new column, 'Counter', "American film 'Ring Two', she still crawls out of a smashed TV."
"But that was on DVD!" Claudia argued back.
Blaine looked up from his laptop, "Better safe than sorry. What about pointing it over a ledge like a balcony?" Claudia wrote 'balcony' on the board.
Gellar shook her head, not looking up from the file as she sat back down, "Nope, this bitch is damn fast. You don't wanna see the pics of the dead body they found. There's a blood smear that goes down a long stretch of sidewalk." She flipped the page over out of disgust.
Claudia gave Felix a stern look, "Taping over the video with 'Game of Thrones'. That'll seal her in, right?"
Blaine spoke up from the laptop, "Tried it in the film. Same for rewinding."
The future Caretaker was starting to get strained, "Let me guess, she'll just move any kind of barricades away? Just tip the screen to face the floor!"
The room was silent and all the others stared at her.
"That...." Felix started, "...could actually work."
Gellar nodded, "She'd move any kind of sheet covering the TV, but if she's facing the ground, she won't be able to move that."
Blaine closed his device, "And she'd have nothing to grab onto. In the films she needs an entertainment center to grab in order to pull herself out."
Felix smiled, "Well, I think we've settled that, good work everyone. Let's meet back next week."
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"So I'm thinking we compare these scans with the trees outside, see what that tells us."
Claudia had been sent to Eureka to pick up a new batch of goo thanks to Fargo, only to get sucked into a mystery going on in Eureka, namely redwoods showing up in the center of Global Dynamics
Henry nodded, "Okay, I'll go with you."
As he said this, the Warehouse Tech's Farnsworth started to go off, "Oh, it's Artie. I'll tell him we're on a case." She excused herself from Henry, Carter, and Grace.
She opened the device and called in, "Hey Artie." She wasn't met with Artie, but rather Blaine.
"Why are you at GD?" the H.A.R.P. Tech snipped, "I thought we agreed I was going to be the one to pick the goo up!"
Claudia quickly doubled back, "Okay, okay, okay! Calm down!"
Blaine glared, "Remind me who was the ex-GD scientist. If you wanted a tour so bad, you could've asked!"
"No offense Blainey, but that was several years ago...plus Dougie kinda invited me." Claudia shrugged.
Blaine just gave her a flat look and sighed, "Fine...but I get to make the next errand, deal?"
"Gotcha." she mimed a salute as Henry appeared over her shoulder.
"So, is 'Artie' okay with-" he looked down to see the face on the screen, "Biston! What a surprise, can I help you with anything?"
Blaine felt a tightening in his gut as he forced a smile, "Hey Henry, what has you kidnapping out hacker?"
"Something up your alley, redwoods appearing out of nowhere in the main hall of GD." Henry said, "Think you can lend a hand?"
No Light, No Light
Just like that time...
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Another day of artifact experimentation as Felix pinned up the sheet of paper above the doorway to Artie's office. When he was confident it wouldn't fall and was unlikely to be noticed, he returned the stepladder to it's corner and hid himself behind the sofa.
Not long after, Artie and Pete walked in, discussing the case they had been on. Felix put on some purple shades from his hiding spot and skillfully threw a paper dart so that it hit the irritable senior agent in the head. Artie looked around in confusion while Pete tried to stifle a laugh.
Unraveling the note, Artie read it aloud. "Just like that time I re-enacted that scene from Young Frankenstein with Old Bone?" He looked confused for a few moments and began to say something that sounded like "Never happened" when the poster above the doorway began to glow with artifact energy. Felix laughed out loud, the note was intended for Pete, but this would be even more amusing.
In a flash, the office vanished and was replaced by a stage. Artie and Old Bone were on in tuxedos and top hats, twirling canes and doing an amusing and passable rendition of 'Puttin' on the Ritz'. As Old Bone croaked out the last few words, the scene reverted back to the office and a very confused and startled pair of agents.
"Uhhh Artie, were you just...?"
"NO! That never happened! Someone...", Artie's head whipped around the office until his eyes fell upon the rough pencil sketch tacked to the door frame. "Ah-ha, Seth MacFarlane's 'Family Guy' Concept Art." Artie feebly tried to jump and reach the artwork as Pete finally broke into fits of laughter. Using the USS Eldrige's Barometer, Felix slunk out of the office and into the aisles.
On the notepad in front of him, he jotted a few notes. "Experiment success. Events do not need to have actually happened for non-sequitur to take place. Participants appear to be in a daze while scene plays out in their heads." Laughing to himself, he made his way back to his office, passing Harry Richman's Lapel Pin on the way. He didn't notice it, but the pin gave a small silver spark, as if it approved of his test.
Letting it Go
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Felix sat atop the Warehouse surrounded by a flurry of snow and wind. The melodic sound of the violin he was playing resonated through the blizzard. As he played the last note, the winds died down and he noticed Joe watching him from a few meters away.
"Enjoy the show?" Said the senior agent, with a hint of sarcasm.
"Were you just playing "Let it Go" in a snowstorm?" The newbie wandered over and sat next to him, feet dangling over the edge of the burgundy steel roof.
"It's a good song. And it helps me remember why I'm here..."
Joe gestured to the violin. "Artie sent me out because one of Vivaldi's strings was missing. I'm guessing it was the winter one?" Felix gave a non-committal nod and handed him the instrument. "I didn't know you could play. It wasn't mentioned in your file."
The older boy chuckled to himself. "Of course you got into the very classified files." He went quiet and looked out over the deserted badlands. "I haven't played in a while. Not since I left home."
The two sat silently for a while before Joe broke the ice. Figuratively and literally, as a sheet of frost cracked as he lent his hand on it. "I read about your history. At least, what little bit of it you've old the Regents. I know you've lost someone, and I know you changed your name. I won't press you, but can I ask why?"
Felix looked contemplative for awhile, fiddling with the small pendant on the chain around his neck. "After what happened, when this artifact was made, I found that the less I thought about it the less it affected me. Eventually I worked out that it was tuned to me personally, and the less of myself I identified with, the less power it had. Using a different name, never staying in one place for too long...even the whole cat incident, unintentional but it helped.
"Eventually I'd changed enough of myself that I could almost ignore the artifact completely. But every now and then the darkness would come back and I wasn't sure if I could keep going. Then I found the Warehouse, or rather, it found me. This place gives me peace. Helped me 'let it go', as it were. Still, sometimes I feel the pain. So I come up here to remind myself what I've got..."
Joe had been silent the through the talk, listening and comprehending. When Felix finally went quiet he spoke up again. "Have you told this to anyone else?"
Felix shook his head. "Something about you, I feel like you'd understand more. I don't know, I guess I find another delinquent more trustworthy than Secret Service or ATF."
After a bit more silence Joe accidentally shattered another sheet of ice and snapped their attention back to reality. "Thanks for trusting me. I know I'm the new guy, but I appreciate it." Taking the violin in hand he turned back towards the small door in the mountainside that led back to the Warehouse. "See you later, Felix."
As he walked away, he heard the agent call over his shoulder. "Alec. When it's just you and me, you can call me Alec."
This one time, at Anthro-Con...
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Tyler hesitantly knocked on the door to the artifact testing lab. "Felix, you in here?", he called out.
There was a sudden crash and a purple energy glowed from behind the heavily curtained window. After a few second it cleared and Felix called back. "It's clear, you can come in."
Tyler walked into the room full of shelves and tools. Various artifacts were stored in purple boxes or bags. A black baby carriage sat tethered in the corner surrounded by a wire fence. Felix sat at a counter, jumper cables in one hand and the other holding the hilt of a sword. "Tyler. What can I do for you?" he said, not looking up.
The HARP agent looked uncomfortable for a a moment. "It's about the whole 'Magic Mike' thing last week," he said. "It reminded me of the first time we met, way back at Anthro-Con."
Felix's eyes flicked up to Tyler's for a moment. On the outside he seemed the same indifferent person Tyler was used to seeing around the office, but he noticed an alertness in his eyes. "What about it?" Felix asked as he twisted a dial on a large machine.
"Well, you said you're not the kind to blackmail, so it made me wonder why you'd want to see me in that...costume. And in particular why you'd want me to know you knew. It just made me think of what happened, or could have happened, in that hotel room." Tyler stopped and took a breath before continuing. "Be honest, if I hadn't scared you off, would we have ended up in bed?"
The question seemed to surprise the feline agent. He dropped the cable onto the blade of the sword which caused it to rocket out of his hand an embed itself in a wall. He gave a short cough as a few foreign looking coin plinked onto the floor, snapping Tyler's attention back away from the unusual spectacle. "Honestly, probably." he said hesitantly. "I thought you were attractive for a lion. I mean, sure I just wanted to take your cash, but I'd always take advantage of a cute target. Not that I'm going to chase you now," he hastily added, seeing Tyler's wide eyes. "Bri scares me, I don't want her thinking I'm trying to steal you."
"So you were spying on me last week be because you think I'm attractive? But don't you and Juan have something going on?"
Felix shrugged. "Not really. We got too, uhhh... "incapacitated" before anything happened." he replied, pulling a file over to himself and taking quick notes on his interrupted experiment.
Tyler sighed, "Well, at least puts any worries I had about that day to rest. Thanks for answering." As Tyler slid out, he quickly popped his head back in, "If you want though, I'll extend that offer of a show to you as well..." He slipped out, smiling to himself as he heard the pencil in Felix's hand snap.
Forged in Fire and Feline
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Felix hefted up the heavy bucket of water and flung a thick rag over his shoulder as he made his way down the aisles of the endless museum of wonder. To his left he could hear the sound of punk rock and bursts of static as Claudia and Pete doused some overactive artifacts a few rows down. To his right, the buzz of Artie's segway and the irregular patter of Trailer's paws following him. Felix made his way down a side aisle and slipped through a gap in the shelves to avoid them as he steadily made his way towards his destination.
He was so focused on the sounds receding behind him that he nearly dropped his equipment as Blaine landed beside him, ethereal wings vanishing on his back.
"Up to something, Drakey?" he said smugly. "Must be something interesting if you don't want Pete or Artie finding out."
Felix gave a resigned sigh, knowing that Blaine wasn't the type to give up on a topic and he beckoned him to follow. A few more rows down they came upon what looked to be a blacksmith forge nestled into the side of a large dividing wall. Blaine noticed that the glow of embers emanating from the forge was a pale blue in color and, as Felix emptied the bucket into a trough, took the time to read the metal placard riveted to the wall.
"The Damascus Forge," Felix said before the HARP agent could speak. "Damascus steel, when it was first smithed hundreds of years ago, was centuries ahead of it's time. Stronger, more supple and barely needed sharpening or repairing. Turns out it was less skill and more, well, this," he gestured to the array of mechanisms. "I found it here a week or so ago and thought I'd take it up as a hobby."
Blaine's face lit up in excitement. "That's awesome. Can I commission something?"
Felix grinned, showing a small pointed fang. "Wait and see if I'm any good at this first." Felix produced a large ingot of steel from his bag and held it towards the furnace as Blaine sat and watched him work.
The Devil Went Down to Dakota
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It had been a while since the last big ping, and the agents of Warehouse 13 were growing restless. Pete, Myka and Steve were visiting family, the HARP team was off somewhere in Southern Europe doing...something. The only ones left at the Warehouse were Artie, Felix, Claudia and Joe
Joe and Claudia were in the office, Claude pouring over something on her tablet and Joe playing Solitaire on Artie's prized computer. He barely managed to close the window and look innocent as the aging custodian shuffled in. He glared at Joe with suspicion but clearly decided it wasn't worth causing trouble.
"Since you and Felix are the only field agents not working a case right now, you've just volunteered for a trip to Kansas. There was a small disturbance regarding a plum tree growing apples. So here's your file, you and him..." he looked over the room in confusion for a moment. "Where is he anyway? I haven't seen him all day. He wasn't in his office, so I assumed he'd be here."
"Oh, he said he wanted to get some practice in with the violin." Joe replied. "He didn't want to get rusty. Said he was going to be in the Musical aisle for a few hours. Something about perfect acoustics."
When Joe mentioned the Musical section, Artie and Claude's eyes flew open in panic. "The Music Section? To play a violin? Do none of you read the manual at all!?"
Joe was slightly taken back by this outburst. "He only left about ten minutes ago, what's the big deal?"
But his question went unanswered, as Artie had already left the office and was scrambling to connect himself to the zip-line. Joe raised an eyebrow at Claudia. "There's a reason I only practice at the B&B..." she started to explain.
Felix made himself comfortable on a small stool in the musical section of the Warehouse. In order to keep the artifacts happy the area had perfect acoustics,so it seemed like the perfect place to practice playing. He rested the violin on his shoulder and began to draw the bow across the strings. The fist notes of "He's a Pirate" rang out in perfect clarity around the aisles.
He had just gotten to a particularly intense section when a burst of fire rocketed from a shelf nearby. He raised an arm to shield his eyes and when he lowered it he gasped. A towering humanoid, at least seven foot tall and comprised of burning embers stood before him, clasping an ebony fiddle in his hands. It pointed with the bow at a identical fiddle at Felix's feet, only this one made of golden maple.
Felix clicked immediately to what was going on. "Let me guess, a fiddle of gold against my soul?". The figure nodded and readied itself to play. Felix picked up the instrument and did the same.
Artie sped along the zip-line towards his destination when he saw the bright lights, bursts of flame, and could hear the unmistakable sound of a very intense fiddle contest. ~I'm too late, it's got him~ He landed ungracefully a few aisles away and steeled himself to clean up what ever mess was left. He was floored when he got the the aisle and found Felix standing in a charred circle on the ground, fiddle in one hand. The other lay on the Warehouse floor a few feet away.
"Felix, are you alright? What happened?"
Felix's face broke into a massive smile. "That. Was. AWESOME! I've got to do that again." Artie lunged forward and snatched the fiddle from his hands as he got ready to start playing again.
"No! No. That's how it the Devil always wins. You keep wanting to play again and you become addicted to the thrill of the competition. Win or lose, your soul is forfeit. Now I'm going to take these and put them somewhere secure. I don't want a repeat of this." He picked up the other fiddle and walked off with them. "Oh, by the way,' he called over his shoulder, "You may want to duck,". Felix gave him a confused look, then was promptly knocked unconscious by a solid gold fiddle flying towards him at a high speed. "Your prize." said Artie, as he departed.
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Aden, Soul, Felix, and Garrett were, in a spur of the moment decision, on a double date. Felix and Aden, who had to both use the restroom, had gone together, leaving Soul and Garrett alone at the table.
Garrett tapped his fork against his plate, staring at his meal. Glancing up at Soul, he tried to smile and start a conversation. "So, you and Aden are really cute together."
"So are you and Felix." Soul replied, smiling faintly.
"Thanks. He's really nice." Garrett blushed, poking his dinner with his fork. "He's strong and confident. Makes up for my wimpy self." He chuckled. "You and Aden seem to match each other well, too. You balance each other out." After taking a drink, he pauses and asks, "So how did you two meet?"
"Well, Aden came into the store looking for a pair of headphones. He looked kinda cute and mad, so I figured I'd try a bad pick-up line on him." Soul chuckled. "It worked, and we started tossing lines at each-other and set up a date." The wider man laughed. "You should've seen the looks on our faces as we asked each-other out at the same time!"
Garrett laughed. "That's cute! You two are like a sitcom couple." The red-head sighed. "Yeah, Felix and I began our relationship while I was so tired I fell asleep almost the second I kissed him."
"He's that bad of a kisser, huh?" Soul laughed, lightly pounding the table with his hand. Garrett chuckled too.
"Not by a long shot." Garrett muttered.
Soul chuckled again. "So, what's Aden like when I'm not around?" he asked, a smile still on his face.
"Uh, besides talking about you?" the agent asked. "He's always either obsessing over new potential Convention Aisle artifacts, or having fun with his powers. Oh, he punched me in the face once." This prompted a surprised look from Soul. "Long story. But he did. It was awesome." Garrett rested his chin on his hand. "Now that I think about it, Aden's often playing Pokémon. He says one of his favorite is-."
"Absol?" Soul finished. "He's called me that a few times. Its cute. What about Felix?"
"He's... sweet." Garrett replied. "He says he'll do stuff with me, even if it isn't his cup of tea. But I only took advantage of that once. I don't want him to get bored or anything."
The albino took a sip of his drink. "Sounds like you two are nice together." Garrett nodded in agreement.
Aden and Felix walked out of the bathroom together and headed towards the table.
"So, how have you two been without the lives of the party?" Felix grinned, leaning down to peck Garrett with a kiss.
"Fine." Soul smiled as he and Aden quickly exchanged a kiss as well. "We were just talking about how Aden thinks with his head,"
"And Felix thinks with his other one." Garrett laughed. "We should do this more often."
"Agreed." Soul nodded, and they continued with their meal.
You're The One That I Want
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"No, No, NO!!!" cried Artie as he rushed down the aisles on his segway, brushing confetti out of his face. Claudia and Bri sprinted behind him, neutralizer packs strapped to their backs. "I've told that boy a dozen times that he's not allowed in the Broadway section anymore. He can't not touch things."
The trio stopped suddenly as Pete and Myka appeared at the end of the aisle. "Thanks to you, Bonnie babe, I can make plans again, I got lots of reasons to keep livin'. It's true that love can set you free, and this world will remember me..." Pete crooned to the jazzy music playing around him.
He spun and wrapped an arm around Myka, who began to sing her own verse in response. "You said you'd go straight Clyde, I wanna be in movies. I can't name one movie star..." she was cut off abruptly by a purple shower from the two agents, sending off a burst of sparks as the melody scratched to a halt.
"Bri," Artie said as he beckoned her over, "would you stick with them for a bit in case they feel like an encore?" Bri nodded and walked over to put her arms around the duet partners as they continued to wipe viscous goo off their faces. Artie gave a quick motion to Claudia to follow and they continued down the aisle into the middle of the section.
A short while later, Artie ground to a halt again, his face blanching. He turned to Claudia, who had a similar expression. They made a sharp left and sped towards the 42nd Street sign as the familiar music floated towards them.
"Oh thank god," Artie breathed a sigh of relief as they arrived, finding the sign mercifully inactive. They did, however, find Abigail, who was doing a very impressive dance routine on the dais in front of the artifact. ~They're side by side, they're glorified; Where the underworld can meet the elite, Forty-Second Street.~ The song and dance brought back some vivid memories, traumatic for Artie after the massive cleanup he'd had to do. More enjoyable for Claudia, who had a wide smile on her face as she doused Abi. The same explosion of sparks went off around her, and she collapsed to the ground in exhaustion.
"I have been dancing for an HOUR Artie!" she shouted. "Ever since Garrett came through with that artifact he wanted everyone to see."
"A sort of booklet," Artie ventured, "About yay big?" He held his fingers about six inches apart. Abi nodded, causing him to sigh. "Playbill from the first successful opening night of West Side Story, one of Broadway's most famous musicals. I just wants everyone to be a star."
Abi pointed a shaky finger towards the vehicle storage, codenamed Route 66. "You'd better hurry Artie. Garret danced that way with Felix, and I think one of them was Travolta-ing."
They arrived too late. They could hear the music before they saw the pair, sitting in an open top muscle car and revving the engine. "You'd better shape up, 'cause I need a man..." they heard Garrett sing to Felix as the car sped past them, out of the now open garage door that, in hindsight, had been a bad idea to let Pete install.
As the car zoomed past, Garrett flung his arms over his head and let out a loud cry of enjoyment. A small paper booklet spun over the rear bumper as the car raced into the Dakota badlands, then, miraculously, into the sky. Claudia didn't even look down as she hosed the artifact, watching the agents fly into the blue.
"The one that I need, Oh yes indeeeeeeed!" they finished the song in unison as they glided through the cloudless sky, some twenty feet above the dry ground.
"Sooo....I guess I'm going to be in trouble again?" said Garrett, a bit meekly.
"For getting excited and whammying a bunch of your coworkers, and then yourself? Probably." replied Felix. They sat in silence for a bit as they flew. "So is this really the car from that movie?" he asked, breaking the silence.
Garrett perked up. "Yeah, the original Greased Lightning car. It has song-powered flight!"
"Oh. Neat." Felix replied rather bluntly. A few more seconds of silence passed. "Garrett..." Felix said slowly. Garrett made a sound of acknowledgment. "We stopped singing a while ago..."
"Ah..." he replied, suddenly realizing what Felix was getting at as the ground started to get noticeably closer. "Crap."
Mark the Halls
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It was Valentine’s Day (or Night, more accurately), and Artie had assigned Garrett’s and Tyler’s respective lovers out on a case to France. Garrett had thought it fitting they’d be heading to the home of the language of love, but couldn’t deny he felt a little jealous he wasn’t the one going with Felix to take selfies in front of the Arc de Triomphe, dine under the Eiffel Tower, or take a calm boat ride along the Seine. He could tell Tyler felt the same way, if not by the emotions he was giving off then most definitely by his expression and the goodbye kiss he had given his wife before she had jokingly taken Felix’s hand as they walked through the Umbilicus.
Garrett had been foolish enough to express his jealousy in Artie’s presence. As if expecting his reaction from the beginning, he had tasked the pair of left-behind-lovers with taking some artifacts from the Ovoid, sorting them in the Feng Shui Spiral, and shelving them all day.
Steve had effectively become the new shelving consultant after Leena’s death with how easily he could compartmentalize his own emotions and use the Spiral. If the dramatic (and maybe a little exaggerated) tale of his near death experience at the hands of one of Da Vinci’s demons was anything to go by, most other agents couldn’t be trusted to “read” the artifacts for fear of the year’s newest baggage interfering and wreaking even more havoc.
Honestly, it felt like there was a new global and emotional crisis every year since they had each come to the Warehouse. Garrett had taken the Felix route and started mapping timelines of their annual overarching adventures, at least mildly curious if the Warehouse actively attracted these sorts of things on a regular basis in some metaphysical way for some metaphysical reason. So far, the result, although positive, yielded no actual answers, but that was for another day.
Garrett was among the few agents that could properly shelve artifacts nearly as well as Leena had; he was too emotional to use the Spiral reliably most of the time, but he could gauge the emotions of artifacts well enough to put them someplace comfortable on his own. He was doing his best to try and coach Tyler through the Spiral though, even if he wasn’t the best person to ask advice on how to keep one’s emotions in check…
“Why is this even called a Spiral?” Tyler asked, sitting in the center of the serene sand garden on the mahogany stool, holding a collection of cards in his lap. “It’s clearly a circle.”
“Ask Warehouse 7,” Garrett replied, the Spiral’s translation book held in his crossed arms. “You’re supposed to keep your eyes closed.”
“I mean, it’s not like Warehouses 8 through 13 couldn’t have renamed it something more accurate, right?” Tyler asked. “It’s been, like, 800 years or something.”
‘He does have a point,’ Scott mused in Garrett’s head, ‘It’s kinda stupid when you think about it.’
Tyler sighed dramatically, his head tilting back. “Fiiiiiine, I’ll zen.” He sat back up on the stool, took a deep breath, gripped the cards tighter, and closed his eyes. Almost immediately, the cards glowed a bright warm light. The Spiral’s central ring around him did the same, and the Chinese characters that made up the outer circle began to “spin”, not unlike the Wheel of Fortune.
After a few seconds, the spinning slowed down until the glow settled on a phrase behind Tyler. Garrett flipped open the book and trailed his finger down the page until he found the appropriate entry.
“Huānhū, ‘cheer’.Looks like they belong somewhere in the holiday sector.” The red-head snapped the book closed and placed it on the table beside the entrance to the Spiral.
Tyler got up from the stool and jogged over, holding the cards up in his gloved hands. “Let’s go find these guys a new home, shall we?”
As it turned out, finding a proper place to shelve the cards was a bit harder than anticipated. Garrett could sense that Tyler’s Spiral reading had been accurate, and they tracked down the holiday aisles - Arbor Day, Valentine’s Day, Kwanzaa, Christmas (and Hanukkah), even the assorted Canadian aisle - easily enough.
It was simply finding the right aisle to shelve the cards that was the hard part.
The artifacts were a collection of vintage Hallmark cards of all shapes, sizes, and designs, for all occasions. Birthdays, weddings, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, graduation, all with the not-quite-pleasing-but-not-quite-ugly, kitschy artwork so much vintage ephemera seemed to have.
“I don’t imagine Artie would want us to split up the set between the whole sector,” Tyler hummed, hand on his hips while he tapped the cards against his shoulder as he surveyed the aisles before him.
“Probably not,” Garrett agreed. “Lemme see ‘em?” He held out his hand and Tyler gave him the cards. Without the purple gloves he was able to get a pretty easy read on their formative emotions, and just as he had sensed from afar before, they were unanimously cheery. Containing all sorts of positive sentiments from friends, family, and co-workers alike from all across the country, just holding them lifted Garrett’s otherwise neutral mood to high heaven and made him want to pull Tyler in for a great big hug to tell him how awesome of a guy he was and how happy he was to know him for the past near-decade.
He almost did just that before they both shuddered as a cold breeze washed over them. They looked left and saw a blanket of snow covering the floor, leading down a hallway of horizontally-aligned stacks.
Tyler turned to Garrett, thumb pointed in the direction of the breeze. “We could stick ‘em in the Aisle of Noel and see how they behave? They’d have to feel at home with all that jolly in the air.” He started for the snow. Garrett shook the love and appreciation that still buzzed in his ears and followed after him.
As always, the Aisle of Noel was covered in a permanent blanket of snow that, although cold, was surprisingly only comfortably chilly rather than freezing. Twinkling lights leaked out into the surrounding stacks and guided the pair like much more benevolent will-o’-the-wisps (Garrett had encountered a whole cluster of them some time ago while in Scotland. Annoying little things, they nearly drowned him in a bog before he got himself out. He was still finding muck in places muck should never be weeks later).
Inside the aisle, crates were wrapped up nicely in red bows, fairy lights wrapped around arches above the pair’s heads, and artifacts packed the shelves in a way that, inexplicably, felt more endearing and decorative than the typical cluttered mess the rest of the Warehouse stored its contents.
Tyler and Garrett walked a way’s into the aisle, looking for an empty spot somewhere in the shelves to place the cards. They had a silent agreement not to even consider the taller shelves, recalling the story involving a particular brush Pete had regaled the whole gang he tells every Christmas specifically to make everyone see just how important he really is to everyone, the Warehouse, and maybe “the whole stinkin’ world.”
They had their doubts, but they’d still like to stay born, thanks.
Near the back of the aisle, Tyler spotted an empty space on a chest-high shelf next to a spiral of tinsel and a submarine-shaped ornament.
“Hey, think I found a spot!” He jogged over to the empty space, where a conveniently placed unused display screen lied dormant. He flipped it up and took off his gloves to input his fingerprint access and ready it for display.
Garrett tore himself from admiring the soft warmth of an actually-burning electric log and jogged over, cards in hand. When he got a few steps away from Tyler, something suddenly clicked in his head.
He had never really noticed how handsome Tyler was up close. He had worked with him for nearly a decade now, how could he not have noticed? His messy hair, his soft cheeks and fuzzy facial hair, the softness in his midsection.
Something seemed to pass over Tyler’s face as well, and before even five seconds had passed, he had closed the gap between them, grabbed him by the shoulders, and shoved him against the shelves for a kiss.
Garrett had barely enough awareness to hastily put the cards on the shelves instead of dropping them to the ground before he put his hands on Tyler’s hips and reciprocated.
Scott, in an unexpected-but-totally-expected move, took the opportunity of Garrett’s momentary lapse in focus to take the reigns for just enough time to turn themselves around and press Tyler against the shelves instead, harder.
The shelves rattled, but thankfully stayed standing. Some of the artifacts on the shelves, though, didn’t stay so stationary.
The vintage cards Garrett had put on the selves, hanging over the edge halfway, tumbled to the ground around them and flipped open to reveal the various pleasantries written inside, with hearts over ‘i’s’ and smiley faces at the ends, their ink glimmering unnaturally.
Just when the two had felt the sudden urge to make out begin to fade, they felt something in their hearts flare up with an unexpected ferocity. They clung to each other tighter and fell to the snow-covered floor.
“Not the Valentine’s Day surprise I was expecting to come home to,” Felix’s voice broke the quiet calm. He stood over the snow-dusted lovers as they lied on the floor, legs entangled and arms embracing and vintage cards strewn all around them.
Tyler and Garrett were too wrapped up in each other to be startled by their sudden appearance. The past…. However long it had been, they had both been embracing and smothering each other with every kind of affection they could conceive of. Every part of their body was squeezed in affirming hugs, not a square inch of body was neglected loving kisses, and they had heard nothing the past few hours but giggles and laughs and words of endearment and sweet nothings whispered in their ears.
“I sorta was, honestly,” Bri spoke up from somewhere they couldn’t see. “I can’t decide if I should feel differently about this now that we’re married or not.”
“Welcome back honey,” Tyler said to Bri/the open air without a hint of embarrassment or irony in his voice. His glasses were smeared and skewed, and his hands were tangled in Garrett’s thick red hair, petting it like the softest fur he had ever felt.
“Did you have a nice trip?” Garrett asked Felix with the same genuineness in his voice. He was wrapped around Tyler like he was hugging a giant plush toy, or a koala around a tree trunk, almost like he was desperately keeping him from going away and trying to take in as much Tyler Lepido as humanly possible.
“Save for a few exploding hearts, I think we had a good time,” Felix replied. He looked up above them, “You got it?”
“Yup!” Bri’s voice called down somewhere before the familiar electric zap and sizzle of an artifact being bagged filled the air.
Almost instantly, Garrett and Tyler’s heads began clearing from their euphoria high. They looked at each other, then Felix, then up to see Bri climbing down a ladder standing just below one of the Christmas light arches. When she got down to the ground, she held up the bag for them to see a mistletoe inside. The original mistletoe.
The pair blushed and avoided looking at their respective lovers.
“H-how long have you…” Tyler stammered, adjusting his glasses.
“A few minutes,” Felix smirked. “We were gonna say something when we saw you, but you were so busy talking to each other you probably wouldn’t have heard us. What were they saying, Bri Dearest?”
“‘You’re the cutest fox I’ve ever met’, ‘You look good in green,’ ‘You’re one of my best friends in the whole world,’ ‘You’re the greatest friend in the whole universe’, et cetera.” Bri repeated some of what they had told each other, which they were starting to remember quite clearly. “And that was just a few. You said a lot more mushy and intimate stuff too.”
“Which we most definitely recorded and will be keeping for posterity.” Felix smiled and tucked his phone into his pocket.
“You two were so cute,” Bri cooed. “If you and I weren’t married Ty, and Garrett and Felix weren’t a couple, I could totally see you two together.” She tossed the bagged mistletoe onto a nearby shelf, and the pair started to walk back out of the aisle.
“You’ll be making up for kissing another man on Valentine’s Day soon, Ty,” Bri called back, putting an extra sway into her hips and a lilt in her voice.
“That goes double for you, Garr,” Felix added, “You’re smooching for two these days.” He turned his head back and winked before he and Bri turned the corner and left.
Garrett and Tyler both turned a severe shade of red and fumbled with their clothes, the snow on the floor, and the cards around them.
“Sorry for shoving you into the shelves,” Tyler muttered.
“Sorry for shoving back,” Garrett replied, though Scott was entirely unrepentant.
They sat in silence for a few seconds before Tyler spoke up again.
“Did you… really mean it when you said you loved me?”
Oh yeah, he had said that… he really had said that, huh?
“U-uh,” he stammered and cleared his throat. “Yeah… of course I do, Tyler. I love everyone at the Warehouse… you’re the best, and really only family I’ve ever known.” He smirked a little and nudged Tyler with his elbow. “You’re always fun to hang around with, and the best to play games with. You were one of the first people to help make me feel comfortable when I first came here, when this place was a giant, scary, endless maze of death and fudge.”
Tyler blushed and chuckled. “Aw, thanks. The family that snags together snogs together, huh?”
Garrett bapped him on the nose with a card, and they fell back onto the floor, giggling and hugging and saying sweet nonsense.
A few more kisses may or may not have been had, but that’s between them and the stacks.
It Takes Two
Here be Dragons
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Insert the entire full recap here.
Came Back to Bite
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In the days after the revelation that Garrett was alive again during the scaly incident at Eureka, he felt a constant and stomach-churning mix of elation and dread. He was back with his family again, and no longer needed to pretend to be an animal in order to see them. He would remain in his home of Univille and would stay with the Warehouse, like before.
But, at the same time, Felix’s hand in his revival had been shown. The Regents now knew, and he had not been painted the kindest picture of them over the short years he had been in Univille. Claudia, as nonchalant as she usually was, never smiled when she brought up the Regents, and her emotions quickly turned stony and cold. Myka, ever respectful and one to follow orders to the letter, likewise looked as though she had a foul taste in her mouth when she once recounted how they had split Helena’s consciousness in two and kept her mind trapped in limbo so she could be used as a tool - a decision that ultimately cost a perverted but harmless hacker and a beloved school teacher their lives. Pete’s feelings were colored only slightly more warmly, given his mother was among the grand jury that overlooked the Warehouse, but one kind voice can lose its volume under those of the rest of the court.
For shortly over a week straight, Garrett had been thinking of all the various punishments Felix could be administered nonstop. Would he be fired and sent away, acidic poison injected into his veins and barred from his only home? Would he be Bronzed, trapped in his own mind for all eternity? Would he be split in half and locked into a cold prison, only ever allowed out when the one who held the key felt him useful for some higher purpose? That last thought in particular never failed to raise bile in his throat and tighten a fist around his heart.
Several days after Felix had returned from Eureka, some last minute business finished and a new scaly pet hidden away in a carrier, they were having breakfast in the B&B when there was a knock at the front door. Moments later, a woman with bronze-y brown hair done up in a bun similar to Mrs. Frederic’s, wearing a dark olive-green overcoat that called to mind a military uniform, walked into the living room, followed shortly behind by a bodyguard.
The previously jovial, domestic, warm atmosphere of the dining room suddenly felt like spoiled milk to Garrett as everyone stopped and turned to stare at the intruder. Everyone set down their food and stood up straighter in their seats, except for Felix, who oddly enough felt completely at ease.
“Madame Levesque,” Artie stood and greeted her, the ice in his chest buffered only by experience and boldness cultivated over the last few years. “I-I take it this is for…”
“I have come to remind Agent Draco of his summons this afternoon,” the Regent spoke with a French accent, her back straight as a pole and emanating as much confidence as she did frigidity. Of course she didn’t feel nervous or scared, Garrett noted, she was the one who held everyone’s lives in her hand. “We felt it prudent for one of us to escort him personally to his hearing so there would be no... delay or rescheduling.”
Felix, whose utter calmness Garrett now realized may be from his perpetual purple haze preventing him from fully grasping the situation, casually picked up a buttered biscuit from his plate and finished it off before washing it down with the last of his milk and getting to his feet. He sighed and made to leave, but Garrett quickly got up and held Felix’s arm tightly.
“If he’s going, I’m going with him.” He said firmly. Felix may (or may not) have come to terms with what was about to happen, but Garrett hadn’t.
“Garr, it’s fine,” Felix said, putting a hand over Garrett’s.
“This hearing only concerns Agent Draco, Agent Graham,” Levesque told him. “There is no need to accompany him.”
“Considering he did what he did to bring me back to life, I’d say I have a right to sit it on this trial.” Garrett insisted, gripping Felix’s arm tighter. “I’m here and I’m fine, there’s no reason you people have to punish-!”
“There is no need for anyone to vouch on Agent Draco’s behalf for this hearing,” Levesque repeated, clearly annoyed. Good, let her be. Who was she to be so calm and cool and collected when Garrett had spent the last few days feeling the pit in his stomach grow large enough it threatened to swallow him from the inside, unable to sleep even in Felix’s arms. How dare she cause everyone’s hearts to wrench and chill and act like nothing was wrong?
“If you people want me to kill myself again you can just say so!”
“Garrett!” Several shocked voices exclaimed together. Felix’s head whipped around to face him, and shared the same horrified expression as the others at the table. Levesque raised her head, her brow twitched. Her damned calmness flickered with concern and fear. Garrett considered that a success.
“Garrett.” Felix grabbed his shoulder and spoke firmly, concern in sharp focus breaking through his hazy calm. “I’m gonna be fine, okay? Whatever they do to me, it won’t be as bad as you’re thinking. They let Claudia off the hook, yeah?”
Well, one of their own was helping her that time…
“I’ll come right back here after it’s done, alright?”
Garrett gripped Felix’s hand tightly. He still wanted to go with him, to sit next to him, vouch for him, protect him. These Regents didn’t understand. Why should Felix be punished for bringing an innocent (well, as far as they knew…) person back to life? It’s not like they know what constantly having their life at risk felt like, what pain that would cause to everyone close to them. They didn’t collect artifacts, they found people to go out and die in the most excruciating ways possible in their place. And when one of them (two, counting Claudia!) finds a way to undo a pointless tragedy, mitigate the horridities of this world they willingly bring people into… they get mad.
Garrett stared into Felix’s eyes, focused in a way they rarely were. His building rage, threatening to burst from his chest and raise hell like once before, found itself being weighed down by heavy iron chains and grounded. It simmered,quiet and still but threatening, like smoke slowly billowing from a dragon’s nose. He sighed and, using one hand to pull the other from Felix, stepped back.
Felix hugged him, hiding his face, and discomfort swirled underneath his sureness. “You’ll have to just trust what I say one of these days, Garr.”
With that, Felix drew back and finally left with Levesque and her bodyguard, leaving a trail of earthy scent and tranquility in his wake. When the front door closed, the atmosphere of the B&B took some time to return to normal, but a tenseness remained. Worry floated in the back of everyone’s minds, both for Felix and for Garrett. Everyone gave him brief looks of concern as they passed him when breakfast was finished without Felix, but said nothing.
When Felix returned home later that day, Garrett was relieved to sense that his heart, although tinged with unease and upset, was mostly elated. His smile seemed genuine, and he carried himself much better. Felix wouldn’t tell him right away what his punishment was, but he at least wasn’t locked away in some freaky woo-woo prison or barred from the Warehouse on threat of death. He was still here, he was still him.
The Regents were still the Regents, though, and that was a problem that wasn’t going away anytime soon. But, for now, this ending felt happy.
As Within, So Without
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Our Well Remembered
Birds and the Beavers
House and Home
The Cleanup Crew
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"What's the situation, Artie? We've never been on a mission together before, why now?"
Agents Joe Barlett and Myka Bering stood before their superior, both with looks on confusion on their faces. "Not that I'm against it, of course," Joe hastily amended. "Just wondering."
"Just thought I'd give you a taste of the more dull side of the job." Artie replied, handing each agent a manila folder. "I meant a dull assignment, not a dull partner." He hastilly corrected himself, noticing Myka's hurt look. "Sorry, poor wording."
Myka made sure to give Artie a glare as she opened the file. "Ah, another DAR. Truly a good use of our potential."
Joe looked at her quizzically. "DAR? That's a new one."
"It means "Destroyed Artifact Recovery"," Myka clarified. "Sometimes an artifact will get damaged or destroyed before we pick up on it, so we get sent out to pick up the pieces and clean up and damage. Usually nothing, but some of these things can go out with a bang."
"Exactly," said Artie. "Since Myka knows how to deal with this kind of thing, I've paired you up for a bit of on-the-job training. Better her than Pete, and everyone else is either busy or missing. So, off you go to Greece, where something went crash and flash-flooded an excavation dig. Of you go!" With little ceremony, Artie rushed them out the door with their plane tickets in an envelope.
"So it's really just going out to pick up some mess?" Joe asked.
Myka sighed. "Pretty much. They might still have a kick to them though, so it's safer to keep them here."
"Oh makes sense I guess. Hey Mykes..."
Myka looked over at the younger agent. "Yeah?"
"I call dibs on driving." With a devilish grin he held up her car keys, which she had left in her pocket, and he ran for the door.
"Sneaky son of a..." Myka didn't finish her curse before bolting after him.
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gazed around the Warehouse shelves, wondering what section she had just wandered into this time. Artie had promised to giver her the tour this morning, but he had gotten called away for a sudden ping in Pittsburgh and he had hurriedly advised her to make the way around herself. She had passed sections filled with hundreds of different auras with similar characteristics, ranging from happy to dangerous to just plain playful.
Turning a corner, she found herself in a large section filled with various different scientific instruments such as beakers, microscopes, magnifying glasses, and more. As she observed the various auras of the artifacts around her she noticed that of a nearby telescope was flaring up rather alarmingly. Her curiosity piqued, she walked over to it and read the faded paper card attached to its tripod.
'Évry Schatzman's Telescope - Creates white dwarfs. WARNING: Will draw energy from nearby sources and can create supernovas'
She watched the end of the telescope and saw a small white star begin to form near the large lens, and could already feel the heat from being so close. She didn't know its exact details, but instinctively felt that something had to be done about the lenses. Quickly, she took purple gloves from her pockets and grabbed the telescope in her fingers, quickly turning the lenses around until the aura surrounding it calmed down considerably and remained dormant, causing the growing white dwarf to shrink back down to a smaller size, but not quite yet vanish.
"There," she said with a happy grin, stepping back to admire her quick handiwork, "that should keep you calm for now. I feel like I'm gonna have to do that pretty often around here." She made sure to remind herself later that next time she explores the aisles, she might need to write down some artifacts that need more regular attention than others to keep them happy. That telescope sure didn't seem like the happiest kid in the playground.
Artie shuffled back into the office, clicking the door shut behind him. Bag on desk, overcoat on chair, he looked around. That new girl hadn't caused a meltdown. it was a promising start. He'd been halfway to Pittsburgh before he'd realized he'd forgotten to give her either a Farnsworth or even directions back to the office.
He walked out onto the balcony, hoping to spot her in the shelves somewhere, and almost had a heart attack when he found her poised with a large Japanese sword about to plunge into her chest.
"WHAT IN GODS NAME ARE YOU DOING GIRL!" he barked suddenly, causing her to drop the blade in surprise. It fell point-first, arcing with red energy as it made a perfect horizontal divide through the railing.
"I-I'm sorry, Mr. Artie, sir. I was just rebalancing them. They were all uneven and could have fallen at any time and that would have been pretty bad for the shelves around them..." she stammered quickly.
"You...were "balancing" them? How did you figure out they needed that? It took years of trial and error before we knew what to do with those."
She timidly handed over a crude list of artifacts and actions to her new boss, who gazed over them quickly. "I just sort of knew. They weren't right. Someone needed to fix them."
Artie looked from the list to the girl, then down to the blade that was now simply a hilt protruding from the solid cement floor. "That's...good. Good work. I guess Mrs. F doesn't make mistakes with her choices. Keep doing your...thing." he said, passing the paper back.
Leena watched him enter his office and sit at the desk. She gave herself a large smile. She had a talent here.
My Hours Are Slumberless
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Mark lent against a pillar and took the last sip of his beer, a well-deserved drink after a well-received set. The bar wasn't the biggest venue, nor was it the biggest payer, but Mark had made it his second home. A somber piano instrumental filled the rest of the room, a far cry from Mark's more upbeat performance. Despite this, it was captivating, the pianist looking like he was pouring out all of his emotions through his music. Noticing his empty bottle, Mark cut through the people to get to the bar counter. "Another one of the same, please," said Mark, lifting up his bottle.
"Sure," replied the bartender, turning to the fridge and opening it, "You know Mark, you should really expand your palette."
"What can I say, Miller is the only drink that agrees with me," laughed Mark. The bartender closed the fridge, opened Mark's drink and put it on the counter.
"Right, I think you know the price," said the bartender. Mark opened his wallet, finding one sole $5 folded up. He paused for a second, before quickly handing it to the bartender and putting his wallet away.
"Cheers, man," said Mark, feigning a smile. Mark grabbed his drink and turned away, noticing an empty table in the middle of the bar. Sitting down, he started to listen to the pianist again, having paid no mind to him while buying his drink. His hammering of the keys had become more angry, cutting through the calmness of music. The pianist looked like his emotions had completely overwhelmed him. Mark struggled to listen to his now discordant playing, letting out a sigh of relief when he finally stopped and stood up. "Thank god for that," thought Mark. As the man left the stage, he didn't even acknowledge the crowd, and quickly walked to bar. The bartender was too busy sorting out the spirits at the back of the bar to notice the man, who grabbed a knife from behind the bar and ended his own life.
"The police and an ambulance are nearly, do not panic!" shouted the bartender, trying to calm everybody down. Whilst the initial shock and panic had died down, people were still unnerved by what had just happened. Mark was up on the stage, inquisitive as he usually was. He had seen the pianist play only a few days before, and he mingled with the crowd after his set, not any slight sign of suicidal thoughts. As a programmer, Mark was used to one oddity breaking a fully functional system, and was inclined to find it. Looking around the stage, he saw nothing out of the ordinary. It was the same house piano that Mark himself had played multiple times before, the microphones were the same, even the piano seat was identical.
Mark sat at the seat and put his head in his hands, before pulling them back and wiping them over his hair. He turned to the piano, hoping to play a small tune to alleviate the tension ever so slightly. In doing this, he noticed the one thing different from every time he sat at the piano. The sheet music looked older than he had ever seen. Glancing over the sheet, he noticed the name of the piece at the top, Vége a Világnak. "The original Gloomy Sunday..." thought Mark, recognizing the title. Not a second after, Mark felt himself slightly lose control of his emotions. He immediately grabbed the sheet music and scrunched it into a ball."
Mark remained seated at the piano while the police and the ambulance team surrounded the pianist. He was ignorant of what was going on, with the medical team rushing to get the pianist into the ambulance, and the police asking questions around the bar. Although it in fact took a few hours for the situation to be sorted out, Mark hadn't really noticed, his emotions slowly taking over him, and barely noticed when one of the offices approached him. "My name is Officer Reyes, I just have a couple of questions about the suicide," he said.
Mark lifted his head, as well as the scrunched up sheet music. "It's this," said Mark, "It broke him and now it's breaking me too."
"I know this is a traumatic situation," replied Reyes, "But a ball of paper doesn't lead somebody to suicide."
Mark sighed, and planted his head back in his hands. The cop didn't seem to want to bother with him and went to question some others. Looking back up again, Mark noticed two other people walk into the bar. They looked official, but certainly weren't cops. Mark presumed that they already received a coroner's report, because the body was long gone. The two scanned the bar, oddly eyeing up anything that looked a bit antique. Eventually, the pair came up to the stage and, hence, Mark.
"Hi, I'm Agent Myka Bering, this is Agent Claudia Donovan," said Myka, showing her badge, "Do you know if the victim came into contact with any strange objects recently?"
Mark lifted up the scrunched up sheet music once again. "Yeah, this," replied Mark, "And it's doing something to me now too."
Claudia grabbed the ball and pulled out a silver bag, before opening it up and dropping the ball inside. Several sparks emanated from it, and Mark suddenly felt like a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. "Oh," said Claudia, surprised, "Well, it seems like our work here is done. Thanks for your help."
Without missing a beat, the two agents turned around, taking the sheet music with them in that weird pyrotechnic bag. With his emotions in check, Mark put on his jacket, and joined the rest of the bar customers in leaving with the police investigation now over.
Mark unlocked his door and emerged into his apartment. A small place in a seedy neighborhood, but the rent was cheap and Mark was still alive. Mark walked into his already lit kitchen, which directly opposed the front door, and opened the fridge, grabbing the remnants of the previous night's Chinese food. Going straight for his lounge, Mark flicked off the kitchen light and opened the lounge door with his back. After turning on the lounge light, Mark turned around to find a lady with a beehive standing right in front of him. "Jesus Christ!" shouted Mark, dropping his plate and spilling the food over the floor.
"My name is Mrs. Frederic, I'm with the government," said the lady. Mark crouched down, trying to quickly get the food back on the plate.
"Oh really? Surely that means you know breaking and entering is felony, right?" replied Mark, in a sarcastic tone. Mark placed the plate on his coffee table, before noticing an envelope besides it. He grabbed it and stood up. "What's this?"
"An invitation to a world of endless wonder," replied Mrs. Frederic. Mark looked down at the envelope, all his details correct. He turned it around and broke the seal. "And for the record, I didn't break anything," continued Mrs. Frederic. Mark looked up from the envelope, and Mrs. Frederick was gone without a trace.
Play It Again Sam
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"I think we're called HARP for more than just the fancy acronym." Matt said as he and Tyler walked out of the Oregon bar with the karaoke machine that Leonard Polverelli used to break the record for world longest karaoke marathon. The machine that had been causing singers to pass out and strained vocal chords in achieving the 100+ hours to naturally neutralize it. Tyler had managed to crank out over 50 songs from various styles before Matt decided to goo it instead.
"What do you mean?" Tyler said rubbing his throat. He had hit several high notes in the last few songs, and he knew that it was going to sting for the next week.
"Almost every few months we pick up some song related artifact." Matt explained popping the trunk to their rental car, "Seriously, we're pegged."
Tyler shook his head, "We haven't collect that many...have we?"
Matt and Tyler got in as Matt began to count on his fingers, "Leroy Brown's Jacket, Denim Trousers of the Terror of Highway 101, ABBA's Champagne Glasses, Just Dance Neon Gloves, The Devil's Golden Fiddle, Donna Summer's Blouse, Xenon Dance Floor, Tiles from the Orleans Parish Women's Prison...need I go on?"
Tyler spoke up as he snapped in, "In my defense, the Xenon was a complete accident. Also, the Just Dance Gloves don't count, those are video game artifacts."
"That doesn't help the fact that HARP is leading the others in 'music-related artifact collection'." Matt turned the key and backed out of their parking spot, "Let's face it...everyday we're shuffling."
Tyler laughed despite his throat now tensing up, "Play it again Sam...play it again."
The Curse of Jacqueline Bodard
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Aden crossed his arms as he waited with several other of the Warehouse staff in the H.A.R.P. Office, "Okay, we're all here, what did you want to show us?"
Matt smiled to Nikki as she walked in with a cloth covered tray. It had been a week since the others had returned from their private Soap Opera in Bermuda, and he and Nikki had been eager to show of the artifact they had snagged while they were gone.
"Well," Matt started, "While you were tackling daytime TV, Nikki and I were squaring up against primetime. I introduce to you-" he whipped the cloth off the tray, "The Whodunnit Kitchen Knife."
The silence in the room was more of confusion than amazement, causing Nikki to chime in, "ABC's show 'Whodunnit' was hybrid of a reality show and a drama. They had contestants, but had a plot that they had to follow, competing for a cash prize while trying not to get 'murdered'. The show caused a small uproar when people thought that the contestants were actually being murdered."
Matt followed her up, "The show also inspired two audiobooks narrated by the show's butter, Giles. In the first book we learn that the events of the show had happened to him before and that it was the curse of the first murderer, Jacqueline Bodard, that cause the next two murder sprees he was forced to partake in. We think that the Knife has her curse since we picked it up at a dude ranch after a faint phone call managed to escape despite the 'no Wi-Fi and no phone coverage' field that the knife generates."
As the two Consultants explained to the other 8 staff members, no one noticed as the knife picked it new host as a staff member locked eyes with it...a small, malicious glint resonated in their eye.
Who You Gonna' Call?
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"Why are we doing this again?" Matt asked as he looked at Sandy, Juan, and Blaine, "Halloween was last week and I'm still trying to get Felix's costume out of my head." Blaine shuddered in agreement as Juan and Sandy tried to avoid making eye contact.
Eventually, Sandy broke the silence, "Well, a few weeks ago, the new of a new Ghostbusters film was finally announced and confirmed, so the Proton Packs were itching for one last go with an all-male team."
Looking down the Samhain Aisle, Juan tilted his head, "So, as long as we don't cross the streams we'll be good?"
"That and as long as no one actually fires the beams." Blaine explained, "This is nuclear tech from the 70s that Artie won't let me touch. No promises on what could happen if we actually fired off one of these things."
Matt looked at the tech flatly, "How reassuring..."
The Jade Job
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"Still can't believe you called us.." Matt said as he through his shoulder into a guard, slamming him into a wall.
"Yeah well, this thing wound up falling outside our area of expertise," Eliot Spencer responded as he was choking out another guard, "After our run in with the neko in Boston, figured this was something up your guy's alley."
Last week, the Warehouse had gotten a call from one of their associates, Leverage International. A few years ago, they'd accidentally cross paths with a select team of Warehouse Agents and Consultants. Originally they'd attempted to stop the Leverage Crew from stealing an artifact back, only to have to team up to recover it once more.
The Leverage Crew had been running a con on a wealthy Chinese CEO with the goal of making his prized jade chess set appear to be fraudulent, however thing got challenging when their thief Parker could only remove the black piece, but not the white ones or the board itself. Thus, the Leverage crew called Matt and Claudia.
The red head walked between the two hitters, tapping on her iPad, "Cute, a 128-encryption system..." as she typed away, hacking the security measures that would allow the three to walk in, she glanced at Eliot, "Remind me why Hardison isn't doing this?"
Slamming the head of his guard into a nearby column, he dropped the guy to the floor and shook out his arms, "Because the health inspector has an inspection at his restaurant this week and he needs to get that place prepared. Like hell I'm going to let him loose that place after the work I put into it." Claudia shrugged and went back to work.
Matt gave the guard he was dealing with a right hook, "And Parker's working the Mark so she can't be here, lovely." Centering himself and getting down a bit, the HARP Consultant gave the guard a blow to the stomach followed by an elbow to the back of the neck, making him collapse and earning the approval of Eliot.
"You're using what I taught you," he nodded, "Get 'em right in the solar plexus." he smacked his fist with his other hand for effect.
As if on cue, the vault's door hissed and opened, with Claudia hauling it open, "Okay boys, we got 10 minutes before the system resets and we have a private army of guards." As she stepped in, she whistled at the sight of the chessboard, "And that is the Chessboard from Ta Yang Tsu Pien...gift from the Emperor of Japan to China, considered to be one of the things to balance peace between China and Japan."
Eliot raised an eyebrow, "You're kidding, right? What about World War Two? You're telling me a chessboard influenced the second world war?"
Matt shrugged as he passed the Hitter into the vault, "Trust me, stranger things have happened. I'm going to assume that white was winning." Eliot rolled his eyes and followed in.
Once they were all around the chessboard, Eliot began to take out the fake chessboard as Claudia opened her bag to take the real ones. The board was set up for a match perfectly, so she was able to take all the black pieces off first, but when she went to grab the white ones...
"They're not moving!" The Warehouse's resident hacker struggled with the pieces, but none of them would budge from the board.
Eliot gave her a stern look, "Really? You too?" he groaned, "Seriously?"
Claudia snipped back, "Do I look like I'm joking big boy?" Letting go and catching her breath, she double checked their timer, "Eight minutes."
Frustrated, Eliot pushed Matt aside and with no problem, removed the white chess pieces, "See? Now quit screwin' around." he gathered them up and put them in the bag with the neutralizer bag. When he went to grab the board itself though, it wouldn't budge. "What the hell man?" After a herculean effort, the hitter had to step back.
Claudia smirked, "Let's see what a bit of girl power can do." She set the neutralizer bag down and grabbed the board on either side and tried to pull, but it wouldn't move for her either.
"I thought you said you deactivated all the security!" Eliot snapped at Claudia who was already double checking her iPad.
"I did!" She snipped back, "Whatever's keeping the chessboard in place has to do with the artifact itself, not a security measure!"
Eliot scrunched up his face in disbelief, "You're telling me some of your hocus-pocus artifact stuff is keeping it here?"
Claudia gave him a condescending laugh, "Oh, you are adorable!"
As the two argued about whether or not to leave the board behind, Matt had been staring intently at the board. Stepping to where Claudia had set the silver neutralizer bag down he first lifted the bag with no problem, but when reaching in, he found that he was unable to affect the position of the black pieces.
Pulling out one of the white ones, he rolled around in his hand. There had to be a significance about this....wait- his activation identification was kicking in and it was telling him...opposites?
"Quiet!" Matt quickly cut off the other two in the vault with him, "I think I might have an idea..."
"Well, you have 5 five minutes now." Claudia reminded him, "Start talking."
The HARP Consultant nodded, "Okay, this is a jade chessboard and it was a gift from Japan, right?" Claudia nodded, "Okay, so when Japan started to find white and black jade in the respective rivers, they sent men to the black river and women to the white river thinking then the jade would be attracted to the opposite."
Eliot's face wore an expression of disbelief and confusion, "How does that help us move the board?"
Matt gave him a sharp look, "For a guy how know a lot of martial arts, you should know the answer."
It took the hitter a second before it clicked, "Taoism, the yin-yang symbol."
The consultant nodded and continued, "Black was considered feminine, white masculine; that's why Parker and Claudia could only move the black pieces, but you and I could only move the white ones."
The hacker cut in herself, "Nice history lesson, but we have three minutes now Matt, ideas?"
"The board's made of white and black pieces." Matt pointed out, "Eliot, you get one side; Claudia, the other. Put it in the bag together."
"In balance and harmony." Eliot smiled as he grabbed his side of the chessboard as Claudia did the same with hers. In a quick movement, they put the jade chessboard in the bag, causing it to spark.
"Two minutes." Claudia replied as she started to get the fake chess pieces out and placing them on the fake board with the help of Eliot. Once completed, the three bolted out of the vault and closed it right as the security turned back on. With their loot in tow, the three made their escape.
Two Hours Later
The three were sitting at a 24-hour ramen shop, celebrating their victory, the neutralizer bag safely hidden in a backpack that rested on the back of Claudia's chair.
"So, tell me this." Eliot said as he took a bite of his ramen, "How'd you know about the whole jade and yin-yang thing?"
Matt smiled as he leaned back, a proud look in his eye, "Without going into too much detail, I technically spent two years at Yale studying symbology and mythology."
The hitter tilted his head in confusion, "Technically? How you do that? You either attend college or you don't, besides aren't you a bit young?"
Claudia stifled a laugh, "Trust us, it's above your clearance level to know how." Eliot exhaled, giving up the fight, "But trust us, Matt's more than HARP's muscle. You have your cooking, Matt has his mythology. Think of it as...his own balance of yin and yang."
Trick of the Trade
Heart still goes on...
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"THIS IS MY HOUSE NOW!!" The magnified voice of Paracelsus boomed throughout the Warehouse as the girders crackled with energy.
"This way, I feel it coming from over here!" Megan Wilcoxson, the junior agent who had only started her work trial last week, led a small group of agents away from the carnage going on deep within. They arrived at a massive ocean liner and piled onto the main deck from the access stairs, out of breath from running.
"That was intense," Matt said between gasps for air. "I've never seen anyone make the Warehouse do this."
Nikki collapsed into a deck chair from exhaustion. "Say Megan, how'd you know to come here? You kept talking about a feeling but you didn't have time to explain."
Megan looked contemplative as she ran a hand over the railings. "I don't know. I just started running and then I felt this sadness right here," she put a hand on her chest. "I just knew whatever it was wanted to protect us from getting hurt. And now that I'm here, I can feel it."
Garrett's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Feel it? You mean this whole ship has feelings? Artifacts can be this big?"
Megan nodded. "This ship has had a lot of loss in her life. I think she was calling out to anyone who could hear her. She's protecting us from Parry right now. So much sadness, she's masking our presence here with her pain."
Everyone seemed to ponder this as the sound of metal twisting continued around them. They stayed there fro several hours, not even noticing time unravel and re-knit itself around them as the battle raged on far below. Eventually Megan spoke up. "It's over. The ship is saying we can go. I think she wants to be alone now."
One by one, the agents disembarked the vessel and each of them quietly thanked the colossal artifact before moving off to reunite with their colleagues. Eventually only Megan remained. She put a hand against the cold iron of the hull. "Thank you for keeping us safe, Olympia." she whispered, then ran off to find her friends.
Far above her, from the empty top deck, the ghostly apparition of the RMS Olympic watched them go.
Fought in the War of '32
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"They're just birds, Felix. They're the one's who should be scared of you." Megan said to her mission partner. Felix sat on the hood of the car as Megan and Myka glared at him.
"They're not "just birds". They're parrots. And if they have managed to get their feral little talons on this artifact then I'm staying right here. Call it local intuition."
The three of them had been sent to New Zealand after reports of organized bird strikes had surfaced from the small alpine town of Arthur's Pass. Originally Felix had been asked to go to back up Megan, his knowledge of the area being deemed useful. But due to his reluctance Myka had come along. Now the pair of females was struggling to get him to move further than the parking lot.
"Fine," Myka folded her arms. If you're going to be such a child about this me and Megan will just take care of it on our own. We can handle a few birds, right Megan?"
She copied Mykas pose and stuck her chin up in mock indignation. "Of course we can."
Felix scoffed and lit a smoke. "Yeah, you guys let me know how that goes." he said, holding up his Farsworth. "Have fun."
Less than an hour later he was startled by a buzzing from his pocket. He flipped open his Farnsworth to see the two girls looking extremely bedraggled. Their hair was a mess and there were suspicious stains and many shallow scratches covering their head and shoulders.
"You bastard." Megan hissed a him. "You didn't tell us they were already smart!"
Felix grinned at them. "I told you they weren't "just birds". No local would dare mess with a flock of kea. Let alone ones they knew were smarter than the average."
Myka snatched the device from Megan. Her eyes were flaming with anger and humiliation. "They were tactical. There were airstrikes! They flew in attack formations! How could we prepare for that!?"
"I did try and warn you. Next time listen when I tell you not to go after the hyper-intelligent military birds. Speaking of, did you guys get it?"
Myka pulled a mess of strings and meal out of a static bag. "One wind chime made of bullet casings and feathers, circa. 1932. I thought you and Artie were joking about the Great Emu War thing."
Felix laughed out loud. "Ah, Australia's finest moment. How that group of buzzards got it, we'll never know. At least now their IQ will go back down to the average. Back to harassing the locals for food and shredding cars of rubber. Which brings me to my next point..."
Felix looked over to the car they'd arrived in, now missing a window wiper, antenna and most of the window linings. "You've still got the deposit on that rental car, yeah?"
Convention Aisle Mishap
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"Random experiment selected. Experiment 571. Primary function: Dust storm maker."
--- Five minutes later . . . . ---
"WHAT DID YOU DO?!" screamed Artie over the Farnsworth at Megan, who flinched at the loudness he was able to achieve. She could barely see the screen with all the dust in the air, her eyes squinted almost shut to prevent dust from getting into her eyes.
"It's not my fault!" she protested, as a dust flew around her. "I didn't know the Experiment Container had a randomizer function! It said nothing about that on its handling requirements!" She choked a bit as some of the dust got through her shirt.
"YOU SHOULDN'T EVEN BE PLAYING WITH THE ARTIFACTS THERE!" continued Artie. "THERE'S A REASON WE DON'T PLAY WITH ARTIFACTS!"
"I was hungry!" Megan shot back. "I just thought I would use it to make popcorn!"
Artie looked ready to blow. "THEN YOU COME BACK HERE AND GET FOOD! YOU DON'T USE THE ARTIFACTS TO PROVIDE YOU FOOD, REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE FOOD IS!"
"Alright! I'm sorry!" Megan admitted. "Now can you please help me?!"
Artie shut off the Farnsworth. Megan thought he was going to make her wait it out as punishment, and closed the Farnsworth. She had no idea how long the storm would last and was regretting playing with the Container. Suddenly, she was being soaked with neutralizer, along with the rest of the area. Purple sparks flew around her, especially to her right side, where the Container was located. The dust finally began to settle, Megan wiped the neutralizer from her eyes and looked around. The aisle was covered in purple goo.
The Farnsworth started buzzing and Megan pulled it out to see Artie's face on the screen. "I assume it worked?"
"Oh, thank you Artie!" she said happily. "I thought you would make me suffer through the storm as punishment!"
Artie smiled. "Oh, don't worry about your punishment. Your new job is to clean up all of the dust in that area. Without an artifact! And I'll have the second half of your punishment waiting for you when you're done with that."
--- Two hours later . . . ---
Megan sighed as she walked out of the Neutralizer Processing Center covered with old neutralizer. When Artie said she had to flush the neutralizer, she didn't realize what he meant, and she didn't understand why he recommended to wear a hazmat suit for the process. Apparently, if you only wear goggles and you don't relieve the pressure valve correctly, you get soaked in used neutralizer. AND IT SMELLS! BAD!
Walking over to the Radiation Section to take a Silkwood Shower, she told herself to never again play with the artifacts, regardless of the reason. Unless she felt like flushing the neutralizer again.
That Eureka Moment
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"Hey, welcome back Kitten-Boy!" Aden greeted the weary looking agent as he entered the main office of the Warehouse.
Artie turned from his desk to address Felix. "Back from your little tenure in Eureka, are we? How was it? Hugo tells me the place can't go a week without some kind of disaster."
Felix rubbed his head and collapsed onto the futon. "There was an incident with some quoll pheromones that I'm under oath not to discuss, but otherwise it was more or less quiet. Dr. Taggart is a great guy to work with and Cafe Diem has the most amazing pork lasagna in the world."
"Glad to hear it, and the shipment?"
"GD's latest batch of crazy is en route, nothing too big this time."
"Fantastic! Taylor, with me. I need help getting storage space ready for these new additions. Felix, go get settled back in. Oh, and I think Nick was after you earlier." With a resigned look from the God Tier, he and Artie left the office. Less than a minute later, a voice came from the doorway.
"Mr. Grey, I thought I felt you coming in. How was the holiday?" Nick Renson stood in the office entrance with a book in his hand.
Felix rolled his eyes at the statement. "Hardly a vacation, that. Two weeks of apprenticeship, nearly dying from cataclysmic events three times and I had to nerd it up with the worlds dullest astrophysicists. Why'd I have to go? I mean, Jim's a great guy to work with and the cover was perfect, but I know nothing about space and physics and stuff."
"That may be, but you know more about artifacts and their limits better than anyone else in the Warehouse right now. To build what I saw in Nostrodamus' Crystal Ball, we'd need the greatest minds in the world. What was their verdict, by the way?"
The agent sighed and pressed a hand to his head. "With the artifacts we have now and the technology from Global, it's theoretically possible. But a planet-sized storage facility would be a massive build, certainly not completable in our lifetime. Maybe not for another hundred years. Maybe longer. What you're proposing is almost impossible in practice."
"That's fine, I have a long time to wait. Thank you, Grey, I appreciate the assistance. Unfortunately, it does poorly to know too much of the future, so..."
Nick opened the book he was holding and there was a flash of purple light. When it faded, Felix looked slightly dazed. "Ah, Mr. Grey, how was your holiday?" Nick addressed him.
Felix blinked away the groggy feeling before responding, "It was nice. Dr. Taggart is an amazing guy to work with, and the pork lasagna at Cafe Diem is amazing. Nearly died a few times, but that's Eureka I guess."
Renson smiled slightly, "Yes, quite. Well, you should get some rest. If you'll excuse me, I have some things to work on."
Double Dare '13
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"Geller owes us big time for this..." Matt whispered beneath is breath as he, Tyler, Nikki, and Bri headed over to the Slopstacle Course. Geller had recruited them to pick up another artifact being used on the set of a remake series of 'Double Dare'. The trophy from the first Family Double Dare Tournament of Champions was being used backstage to make sure that the show was a hit. While Geller searched backstage, she had the Consultants enter in as a distraction as 'History's Mysteries'.
"Admit it, you're enjoying this as much as when we were on the 'Legends of the Hidden Temple' reboot." Nikki said as she stretched, "Besides, we're at the final challenge and we get to keep whatever we win." Nikki waved to Geller who was now in the audience holding up a rather large silver tote-bag.
The announcer split them up to their stations, all of which were derived from the original ones. In order, Matt would start them out at 'Gum Drop ' (a giant ball pit essentially), pass a flag off to Bri who was at 'Car Wash' (a take on the original 'Kid Wash'). Tyler would pick up at 'Gak Geyser' where he'd have to climb up and through machinery spraying green goo and pass his flag to Nikki who would dive into the 'Baked Alaska Pipeline ', a tunnel that was slick with chocolate sauce. Matt would then pick up at 'Soda Jerk ' where colored water would pour out with a flag; up next was Bri at 'Pick It ' where she had to dig around inside the an oversized nose for the flag. In the homestretch, Tyler was placed at 'Big Bowl ' and finally Nikki at 'Sundae Slide '.
"On your marks...get set...GO!"
Matt cannonballed into the ballpit, causing the sudden energy to force him and dozens of plastic balls out. Getting up, he snatched the flag and passed it off to Bri who threw herself through the skinny tunnel, popping out flag in hand and tagging Tyler. Goggles on, Tyler scampered up the ladder in spite of the goo, grabbed the flag, and slid down the pole, handing the flag off. Nikki dove head first through the tunnel, using the chocolate to reduce her friction as she then repeated the process twice more before meeting Matt. Matt leaped up onto the platform and used both feet to trigger the Grape and Orange soda sprayers at the same time until the flag came out of the Orange. Handing it off, Bri slid onto her back and stuck both hands into both nostrils, and pulled out covered in sea-foam green goo...and flag in hand. Tyler took it and rammed into the large yoga ball knocking down the bowling balls, exposing the flag.
Nikki nodded as she took the flag. Bri had wasted a bit of time at 'Pick It', but that was expected since it had been the bane of the several teams in the past, but Nikki didn't have the time to waste. Using the railings, she high-stepped it up the slippery ramp (made even more slippery from the Pipeline). Grabbing the flag, she again dove head first down the slide grabbing the flag as her head rammed into the whipped cream mound waiting for her at the bottom.
Nikki didn't get a chance to get up, as she found herself being pulled out by her teammates, all who were coated in goo in one way or another as they hugged her, jumping up and down. "I take it we won?"
As the audience shuffled out, Geller met the others on the floor of the studio while the consultants wiped up, "I got it. I don't think that the show will get past 5 episodes, but don't worry, you'll get your 15 minutes of fame." She held up her tote-bag, "Found it in the first place I looked, the producer's office."
Nikki looked at her as she removed her hair band, "Wait...you found it right away? What were we doing at that moment?"
Sarah shrugged, "Winning the Toss-up I believe. I got back to my seat when Bri got the first Dare question right."
The consultants stared at her as Nikki spoke up first, "You mean...we went through the entire show while you got to kick back?"
Sarah smiled and she headed for the exit, "Dare."
Convolvus Minor/Thornless Rose
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"I'm not sure how I feel about this," Oto said nervously, being handed a Farnsworth and Tesla for the first time. "This all seems a bit... much. I'm still relatively new here, and yer already sending me out?"
Charlie Martin, ever the smoker, took a drag from his cigarette and sighed, rubbing his balding forehead. "Look, Barry, I've got a few months until I retire from the Warehouse and I've got a lotta stuff to take care of today. I can't keep arguing with you an' explaining everything about this place." A puff of smoke emerged from his mouth as he spoke to Oto, making the new recruit cough and wave his hand in front of his face when it hit him. "So, I decided what better way to get your feet wet than to have you go on a case with someone who knows how to do their job well?"
Oto raised an eyebrow. "Fergive me, Mr. Martin, but I'm not sure I'm quite ready, I've barely made a dent in the manual and-"
"And you likely never will," finished a man's voice behind him. "That manual's been around since the early Warehouses, nobody's been able to finish it during Warehouse 13's reign except maybe Mrs. F herself, and even I have my doubts."
The two other men turned around from the desk in the middle of the front office and saw a man with long blond hair that looked both disheveled yet handsomely stylish. Dressed in a simple white button-up shirt with rolled up sleeves and dark slacks, he smiled. Oto recognized that smile. "Ah," Charlie said, "Michael, perfect timin'. This is our new recruit, Oto. He joined us a few days ago and hasn't been on a case yet. Thanks for bitin' the bullet on this one."
Michael nodded and stepped forward, offering his hand to the new recruit. "Pleasure to meet you, sir. Or should I say, we meet again, Professor Barry. I'm Michael, as you already knew, but my friends call me Mike. Unless we're dating, then it's Mikey. Hopefully we'll be good buddies while we're working together."
Nervously, Oto took his hand and gave it a firm shake, evident of a polite man who knew his way around a polite interaction. He felt his face warm up a little when he grabbed Oto's hand firmly, but chalked it up to the warmth of the office and his choice to wear dress shirts instead of something thin and casual. "Pleasure's all mine, Michael. Or should I say mysterious Secret Service man who saved my classroom. Uh, what I wanna know is, if we're just collectin' stuff, why do we have to use-"
"No time, no time!" Charlie exclaimed, standing up and pushing manila folders into the men's hands, "We've got a report in Kansas, something about people in a restaurant losing weight and random junk being eaten instead of food. Now shoo, shoo, I'm busy!"
Quickly, Oto and Michael made their way out of the main office via the Umbilicus. Oto opened his envelope with great curiosity, while Michael opened it like it was a routine thing. Oto couldn't understand how something so fascinating and interesting wasn't as exciting to the other man as it was to him. "What could be making people eat plates and not get hurt?"
"And cause them to starve no matter how much they eat?" Michael added. "You were asking me a question earlier, what was it?" he asked, tucking the incident report underneath his arm as they exited the large complex and made their way to an old Chrysler car.
Lagging behind as he read and walked, Oto looked up and hurriedly rushed to the passenger side of the car, still trying to read as he buckled up. "Oh, yeah. If we're just collecting objects, why do we have these?" He pulled out the Tesla Martin had given him, looking at it in confusion and trepidation.
Michael shrugged, "Sometimes people get in the way of our job. Dangerous people, people who use artifacts to do bad things. In addition to collection, we have to work on preventing disasters. Keeping people safe from other people who'd cause harm."
"But aren't there other ways to do that? Using weapons like guns, or... electric blasters, seems a bit excessive, doesn't it?"
With a sigh, Korss started the car and drove away from the Warehouse on their way to the airport to catch their flight. "Sometimes there are more dangerous weapons than guns and artifacts, Oto. People can be the worst weapons of all."
"That's a bit pessimistic," Oto said. "That doesn't strike me as you. Where's the happy-go-lucky hippy-haired stranger I met a few days ago?"
Michael chuckled. "Ah, no no, I was just quoting Sweetwood. You know, the guy with the deep voice that makes you want to simultaneously pull the stick out of his ass or shove it in even father? You met him at the college too, he was my partner." Oto nodded in understanding, remembering the other agents and how awkward their interactions had been. "Unrelated, but I thought I'd get it out of the way, I knew you had something in you ever since the college. You're welcome for the job recommendation by the way, I've never seen Mrs. F. so excited to recruit someone when I told her you had immunity."
"She was excited?" Oto asked, unable to picture the calm and reserved woman being excited about anything no matter how warm her smile in his apartment the other day had been. Actually, just trying to made hi a little uncomfortable, and he promptly stopped.
"She cleared her throat." Michael said. "Believe me, that's excited."
|Click to show|
Oto and Michael stood outside the doors to the church, breathing into their hands to keep warm in the cold winter night. It was quiet, as all patrons had gone home for the day, and the two had the place to themselves. "Breaking and entering a church at midnight," Michael mused, "guess I can cross this off my bucket list."
Oto shrugged as he tried to pick the lock on the large wooden slabs blocking their passage. "You don't seem to bothered by it. This seems a little... disrespectful to God, y'know? This is a church, on Sunday, for crying out loud. There," he said finally as the locks made a click and he pushed the door open.
Michael got up from where he was leaning on the walls and followed the other man inside. Once in, they closed the doors behind them, and immediately felt much warmer, feeling comfortable enough to remove their bulky winter clothing. Korss ran his hands over the polished wooden pews, seeing hymnal books tucked into little compartments on the back of the seats in front of each one. The church was modestly large, with a high enough ceiling to make him dizzy if he looked up. The chandelier was out, decorated with glass crystal decorations on small chains, idly dangling from ambient moving air.
Oto headed up towards the altar and paused, gazed up at the top where a large Crucifix was hung, then bent to his knees and clasped his hands together in prayer.
"Most High, glorious God,
Amen." He finished, reciting under his breath, but in the quiet of the church Michael could hear him clearly.
"What was that?" he asked. "Sounds like you knew it by heart."
Standing up, he raised his eyebrow at Michael. "That was the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, to discern God's will. We're collecting the original San Damiano Crucifix, I thought it was appropriate. Aren't you gonna pray too, to make up for, y'know, breaking into a holy place?"
Agent Korss shook his head, "Nah, sorry. I'm an atheist, praying isn't my thing. My parents only took me church a couple of times as a kid," he explained, looking up at the artifact they were to collect. "I never really put much stock into it. Plus I'm not a fan of guys in the sky who call flooding a whole planet and drowning all life except what's on a big boat a 'good' punishment."
Barry sighed, "You do you, Mike..." he looked up at the Crucifix himself, and felt a twinge of anxiety hit him. "You know, my father was a priest for out local church. He raised me to be his replacement once he aged out of the position. He always talked about how after he died, they'd need to take his body from the altar steps since he always believed that's where he'd spend his final moments."
"Sounds like an interesting guy," Michael smiled, "is he still preaching?"
His partner looked down and sat at the front pew. "N-no, actually, he... died when I was 13. House fire that got my mother and sisters too."
Korss gave a look of concern and sat next to him, gently putting a hand on his shoulder. "Oh, Oto, I'm so-"
"Don't be," he said quickly, "I didn't like him a lot." He clenched his fists, "Actually, I hated the old bastard. Jesus always said to turn the other cheek, but father hit both with the same amount of force."
"What do you mean?"
Oto sighed and buried his head in his hands, tired. "Let's just say my old man was very old fashioned. When we did good by him, he'd take us out for ice cream. But if we did something wrong... my father kept a collected of belts in his closet. Leather ones, studded ones, some with metal and some with big buckles." He shifted in his seat as if he were uncomfortable sitting down, "And if those didn't make us cry he'd take a big stick and hit us on the hands and knees. Once, when my sister couldn't cry anymore and he was still mad, he made her sleep outside with nothing but an old ratty towel that she had to choose whether to use it as a mattress for the muddy ground, or a blanket from the cold."
The newer agent squirmed more, uncomfortable and starting to sob a little. "My mother didn't do anything, she just stood there and watched. She'd hand him his belts and sticks, fetch the towel from the closet... my sisters and I didn't deserve any of it. But when that house fire happened, I thanked God. Is-isn't that messed up?! I thanked him for killin' my parents, and takin' my sisters out of that Hell on Earth!"
Michael got closer to him and reached a hand behind him, pulling him closer and rubbing his shoulder. "Oto, damn, I'm so sorry... look, I might be the least qualified person to say this, but if they believed in God, they must be in a better place now. And your parents are getting the punishment they deserve, right?"
The other man pulled himself together and rubbed his eyes. "Yeah. God, I'm sorry Michael, I, I shouldn't have told you all that. It's so personal and I must sound like a pity case."
"Not at all, Oto!" Michael said, "Telling me means you aren't afraid to confront what happened. It was okay for you to feel that way from where I'm standing. And this means you put a lot of trust into a guy you've only been working with for a few months. Thank you."
Oto smiled and stood up, "Thanks for listening and not judging', I guess. Now, uh, let's get this Crucifix and get out before we're struck by lightning or something."
The two shared a chuckle before the walked up to the altar and grabbed hold of the large and ornate wooden iconographic cross. Taking it off the wall, their knees buckle under the sudden unexpected weight as it falls into their hands.
"You got it, Michael?" Oto asked, grunting as he lifts the upper end of the cross.
Korss nodded, and took the artifact in his arms as well, and the two started their way out of the building to put the artifact in their truck and bring out the replica they had. "Yeah, got it! And call me Mike." he winked, making Oto beam.
Maybe he'd stick around for a little while longer.
|Click to show|
"P-l-a-t-I-t-u-d-I-n-o-u-s, platitudinous." A girl spoke into the microphone on a stage in front of a small table of judges and an entire auditorium filled with parents and students alike. It was nearing the final round of the elementary school's annual spelling bee, and only the girl and two other boys were left.
"You sure she's got the artifact?" Charlie asked through the Farnsworth, sitting in the Warehouse office and chewing on a cigar. "We don't wanna seem like we're targeting a little girl."
Michael turned the vaudio device around in his hands to focus the screen on the girl across the packed auditorium, where she had a flower tucked into her hair bun. "Looks like a gladiolus to me, and you said we were missing at least one flower from Frank Neuhauser's Bouquet."
Charlie nodded and leaned back in his chair, puffing out a cloud of smoke. "Good, we've been tracking that last flower for a few decades now. I'll let Mrs. F know we've got the full bouquet, she recently bought a few vases to brighten some of the flower artifacts up. I swear, it's like she's got future vision sometimes." With that, he closed his Farnsworth and left Michael and Oto to their mission.
"I'm sorry, but that is incorrect. Thank you for making it this far." One of the judges gave a boy a sympathetic smile as he dejectedly walked off the stage to sit with his parents, looking down at the number card on his chest. That only left the girl and one other boy before a winner was declared, and with the former using an artifact, it was pretty obvious who the winner would end up being.
"Should we stop her and get the flower now?" Michael asked his partner. "We could make a distraction, shoot the sprinklers with our Teslas?"
Oto shook his head, "No, that'd be too harsh. If this girl is this far in the competition and loses, she might be heartbroken. Especially if the downside of the artifact is in play. She'd be extremely pressured to succeed..."
'Why can't you just make a good damn grade for once in your life?! I made you study for hour on end-'
'Please, Dad, I'm sorry, I tried-'
'I made you stop talking to friends so you'd have more time for homework-'
'It's just a few points away from-'
'And this is how you repay me, for all I've done for you? Get over here! Janine, get my new belt, the one with the big buckle!'
'No, please, Dad, I tri-'
"And I know how that feels." Oto sighed and leaned against a nearby column, watching as the remaining boy sat down after getting his word wrong. If the girl spelled this final word correctly, she'd win.
"Alright Sam, your final word is 'ascetic'."
"Ascetic," Sam repeated aloud, thinking to herself as she brushed her hand through her hair and touched one of the petals on the flower. "A-s-c... a-s-c-e-t-I-c, ascetic."
Oto smiled to himself happily as he watched the girl's face light up when she was told she was correct, and that she had won the spelling bee. She jumped up and down excitedly, and started crying happily. Two women rose from the crows and gave their own standing ovation, and Oto smiled just a little wider before shaking his head and looking back to Michael, who raised his eyebrow.
"Well," he said, crossing his arms and looking at Sam as she was handed a certificate and trophy, "how do we get the flower?"
"Follow my lead." The junior agent led Michael to the girl and her apparent guardians. Flashing his badge, he knelt down to shake her hand. "Hi there," he introduced myself, "I'm Mr. Barry, and this is my partner Mr. Korss. We saw you win, and I was wondering if we could ask you a few questions for the newspaper?"
The young girl nodded excitedly and hugged the two women, who then exchanged handshakes with Michael a few feet away.
"You did a really good job up there Sam, you must have studied hard."
Sam shook her head, "Not really, I don't study much." She smiled and tucked her hands in the pockets of her skirt. "Mommy says I'm precocious. P-r-e-c-o-c-I-o-u-s."
He nodded, "Oh really? You don't study? That's interesting. Oh, I couldn't help but notice that pretty flower in your hair, what kind is it?"
The little girl plucked the flower from her head and twirled it in her fingers, brushing the petals delicately with her fingers. "It's a gladiolus. Gladioli is plural. They're kinda big for my hair, but they're really pretty."
"Can I see?" Oto held out his hand for the flower, which Sam gingerly placed in his palm sideways. He held it up in his fingers and tried to think of a hard word to spell... but no matter what, he still couldn't spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. "Huh. Hey, Mike," he called over his partner to look at the plant in his hands. "I'm not really feeling anything. Ain't that strange?"
"Say Sam," Michael said, looking down at the girl and messing up her hair, "where'd you get that flower anyway? Did one of your mommies get it for you as a gift?"
She shook her head, "Nope! Mommy got us a house with a big yard, and Mom likes to garden a bunch. Gladioli are her favorite, and they're my lucky flower, so she gave me one to wear straight from the garden!"
The two agents exchanged surprised looks, before Oto handed the harmless flower back to Sam and stood up. "Well, it looks really pretty in your hair. You keep on spelling to your heart's content, alright?"
Sam plucked the flower from his hand and quickly hugged him around the waist, making him smile warmly and look at Michael, mouthing and pointing at her. 'Look! She's hugging me!' Mike gave him two thumbs up and looked fondly at the little girl himself, sighing.
Later, as the two drove back to the airport to catch their flight back to the Warehouse, they spoke.
"That's a coincidence I never thought I'd see. It's almost too good to be true," Mike said from the driver's seat. "What are the chances a girl in a spelling bee wears gladioli, and we're just missing one gladiolus from an artifact bouquet?"
Oto shook his head and shrugged. "He works in mysterious ways, y'know. I'm just as surprised.... Hey, did you notice that girl had.. um..."
"Two mothers?" Mike supplied. "Yeah, I noticed."
'I asked, they adopted her at three months old. They had been trying to have kids from donors for a while, but it turns out they're both infertile, so they settled for adopting her." Mike smiled as he turned a corner and entered the lot to the airport. "I wouldn't mind adopting a kid if I couldn't have any of my own."
"Really?" Oto asked, somewhat surprised. His father had always stressed that same-sex couples should never adopt, or else they'd "corrupt the children" to their agenda, and Oto couldn't have helped but to internalize that. It was just... weird, seeing those women. But was it really a bad thing? After all, this was his father, the one who said nearly everything was wrong with the world today. Besides...
"C'mon Otter," Mike said, using a nickname he had just now came up with. "We don't want to miss our flight, do we? Charlie's too close to retirement for us to give him a heart attack if the Warehouse has to pay for two more tickets."
|Click to show|
Oto and Mike sat together in the B&B's backdoor patio at 2 in the morning around a small table and sharing some bottles of beer. A radio in the middle of the table played the current hits, and when Best of My Love finished playing, Mike turned the volume down.
"Hey, Otter," Mike said, setting his dripping bottle on the table with a clink, "In a few hours, you'll be celebrating your first official year at the Warehouse. Everyone at the office plans on throwing you a special celebration. But you didn't hear it from me. You ever thought you'd get this far?"
Oto took a swig of his drink, watered down due to his low alcohol tolerance, and tapped his fingers thoughtfully agains the glass. "Honestly? Not really. After that incident with the monkey, I kept expecting every case to turn deadly, someway somehow."
The blonde man chuckled, "That monkey did get you good. You're lucky you didn't need surgery after she went ape. Pun intended." He polished off his bottle and pushed it across the table, leaving a trail of water droplets in its wake across the glass surface. "Say, where do you think you'll be in five years?"
His partner raised an eyebrow in surprise and confusion. "Five years? You think I'll survive this place for five whole years?"
"Well, maybe not whole years. At least four and three months. It's almost impossible to get rounded dates, and it would suck for you to get killed on your five year anniversary."
Oto crossed his arms and leaned back, thinking. He took everything into consideration; his skill at the Warehouse, his ability to be protected from any artifact, the average danger level of cases...
"I don't know. I mean, it's kinda impossible to think that far ahead, isn't it?" He asked. Mike opened his mouth to object with a slew of precognitive artifacts, but Oto silenced him quickly. "I mean, normally. If you asked me before I came to the Warehouse, I'd have said either buried in debt from my job as a professor, or buried in dirt from the stress from my job as a professor. Now though, I can't really tell."
"Me?" Mike said, closing his eyes and smiling. "I see myself still in Univille. After just one year with the Warehouse, I never wanna leave it. If it moves, I'll move with it. Univille is my new home. I've even got my eye on a few houses." He sighed happily and looked out the window, where the sky was thankfully free of obstructive weather, so as to see the half moon and stars. "I'll probably be an agent until the day I die. Hell, maybe that'll be because I'm an agent. Who knows?"
Oto looked down at the neck of his bottle and gripped it tightly in his hand. "I'd... rather you not."
Mike sat up and turned to his work partner. "Huh? What do you mean?"
The southern man sighed and ran his fingers through his hair before setting the bottle down and leaning his elbows on the table. "Mike, after my family died, I was put into foster care. Everyone knows the system sucks. And for me it wasn't any different. I was shoved from family to family, orphanage to orphanage, where hardly anyone ever paid attention to me. Those that did either got adopted, or grew tired of me. And you, you're still my friend... my only friend, to be honest."
Oto sighed and covered his face with his hands, and Michael moved his seat closer and put his hand on the other man's shoulder. "A long long time ago, I came to term with death and everything. I was okay if I died, no matter what happened. But what I'm not okay with is someone else dying, and leaving me alone. Most of all you."
"Oto, man," Mike said, uncertain of what to do. "Hey, that's what comes with the job. We all signed up for this, remember?"
"That was before we were buddies."
Mike looked down for a moment, then pulled Oto up by the shoulders and held him there. "Hey, Otter," he said, making the other man chuckle uncontrollably through his watery eyes, "I promise I'll be more careful on missions from now on." He held out his fist and extended his pinky finger, smiling wide. "Pinky promise."
Oto chuckled again and hooked his own little finger around Mike's. "And I'll be more careful too. Besides, someone's gotta protect your sorry ass out there, right?"
"Oto, with you and your immunity by my side all the time, nothing's gonna happen to me. I guarantee you."
Just then, the grandfather clock in the B&B chimed, echoing throughout the house its signal that it had reached 3 in the morning.
"Woah, is it that time already?" Oto asked incredulously as he looked at his wristwatch, "we better get to bed if we want to make the party tomorrow morning without collapsing." He and Mike stood up together, the latter patting the former on the back supportively.
The two agents walked up the stairs and walked separate ways to their respective bedrooms, but not before Oto held back in his doorway and called back to his partner.
"Hey, Mike?" He called, and the man's head popped out from his own doorway as he lifted his shirt above his head to get ready to sleep.
"Are you still gonna bring me a present at the party later?" He asked, smirking.
Mike laughed and winked at him. "Maybe I'll get you your own toothbrush so you don't have to keep asking to borrow mine."
|Click to show|
Christmas time. Everyone at the Warehouse planned on meeting at the B&B for the wintertime festivities. Except for Oto. And everyone got everyone else a gift. Except for Oto. It's not that he didn't want to, per say, it's just that he didn't enjoy spending money. Plus, he barely paid attention enough to any of the other agents to know what they could possibly want as a present. Did Charlie want a Cuban cigar, or something rarer? Maybe he'd enjoy some new suspenders? Or a toupee? And what about Mrs. Frederic? Mrs. F never really was one to want presents, despite giving agents some pretty decent stuff, but nevertheless Warehouse staff always got her new things. A new purse, ring, skirt. Nobody knew enough about her to venture beyond what they knew she wore.
Oto sighed and knocked his head against the wall of his bedroom, frustrated. The holiday season was supposed to be fun, but it always brought about memories of his childhood. His father barely got them presents for Christmas, and instead had them shovel snow throughout the neighborhood or rehearse hymns door to door, without any sort of compensation or acknowledgement. He always envied the kids outside who got the newest toy, the newest clothes, the newest anything. The best present he ever got from his father? A first edition copy of the Old Testament. He tossed it out the window that night. Turning from the wall before he gave himself a concussion, he looked at himself in the large vanity mirror across the room and adjusted his green tie.
He had only gotten one present this year. Normally he wouldn't have spent so much, but this one was special. He left it downstairs in the patio area, hidden so nobody would see it by accident. He didn't dare keep it in his room, for fear he'd give it away too early. Oto's anxiety worsened, 'What if he didn't like it? What if the others get mad that I didn't get anything for them? What it-'
He heard a knock on the door frame to his bedroom, and turned to see Mike leaning against the wall, dressed n his best suit. Black dress pants, light red button up shirt, and a bright pink tie. Mike was ever one to shy away from what Oto's father would call "girl colors". His hair was just the right amount of handsomely disheveled, and fell over his shoulders. Oto secretly envied that hair when he looked at his own short dark hair in the mirror.
"Hey Otter, the party's started without you. You alright?" Mike stepped in the room and gave his partner a once-over before sitting himself down on the edge of the bed, rolling up his sleeves. "You didn't forget to get presents, did you?"
The other man looked away nervously. "Actually, yeah... I was gonna, but, I don't know... I'm frugal, okay?"
Mike chuckled and pat Oto on the back before standing up again. "That's alright. C'mon, let's go downstairs. The cookies are done."
Once the two got downstairs into the living room, the B&B's current owner, a kind old man with glasses too small for his eyes and a mustache too big for his lip, passed around a still steaming plate of cookies of various kinds.
"Ah, Agent Korss, Agent Barry," Mrs. Frederic smiled and shook the hands of the two agents, "Merry Christmas to you both."
"And the same to you, Mrs. F," Mike said, smiling that large smile that always seemed to make things happier. Even now, if that were even possible. "Actually, I, er, we, wanted to give you a gift."
Oto raised his eyebrow, "We?"
Mike reached into his pocket and pulled out a necklace box and handed it to the Caretaker. Opening it, she found a shining necklace strung with natural pearls. "Oto thought you'd enjoy something a little nicer than those plastic pearls you used to wear."
Mrs. Frederic smiled and winked at him knowingly before putting the necklace around her neck. "You know I don't ask for anything, but thank you both very much. Especially you, Oto. Now," she clasped her hands together at her waist, "don't let me take you away from the festivities. Go and mingle." She walked off to talk to Charlie across the room, leaving the other agents alone.
A little later, Oto had Mike follow him to the patio. When they entered, they immediately started shivering. "Brr," Mike commented, rubbing his arms, "it's freezing in here."
"Oh, crap," Oto exclaimed in a worried tone, "the present!" He ran to a nearby standalone drawer with what seemed to be a box underneath a sheet near the window. Pulling the cover off quickly, he opened up the box and pulled out a bouquet of flowers wrapped in plastic... and covered in a rather thick layer of frost. "Oh no..." he looked dejected, and slumped his shoulders.
Mike raised his eyebrow and walked over to his partner. "What happened Oto?"
"These were... supposed to be for you." He held out the bouquet of frozen-over flowers. "Gerbera daisies, the lady at the florist shop in town said they were a good gift for friends. You said you'd like to have a garden of your own, I thought these could hold you over for a month or two. But now..." He sighed and sat down on a patio chair and rubbed his forehead. "Why does this always happen when I try to do something nice?"
Mike gently took the bouquet from Oto's hands and looked them over, seeing various colors of petals peek through the ice. "It's a nice gesture, Otter," he smiled and knelt, putting his hand on Oto's shoulder to comfort him, "Thank you. I'll put them by my window, maybe they'll defrost. Who knows, maybe they aren't dead."
"And if they are?" Oto still looked a bit sad, and avoided looking at the flowers, or Mike in the eyes.
The other man smiled, pat his shoulder once more, and stood to hold out his hand. "I read a file in the office that said there were artifacts that worked on flowers. Maybe there's something that'll help these little guys."
Oto sighed and took his hand to pull himself up. "You know, you didn't have to cover my ass with Mrs. F. I'd be fine with her secret disappointment for not getting her something."
"You kidding?" Mike said incredulously, "No way I was gonna throw you under the bus like that. Besides, she probably already suspected, but we shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth."
The B&B owner's warbling voice cried out from the living room. "Boys, the roast is done! I, eh, got some help. Don't tell Mrs. Frederic. Come on!"
Mike smirked at Oto, "Bet I can get the larger half of the wishbone than you, Otter!" With that, he ran off, and Oto immediately tailed after him as fast as he could.
"Not if I get there first ya hippie!"
Maybe Christmas wasn't going to be so bad anymore.
|Click to show|
The dancers twirled and jumped, plie'd and cabrioled, arrebesquing slowly to the classical music that filled the large concert hall. Tutus and leotards and shoes tied with shiny ribbon were everywhere backstage, where Oto and Mike observed the numerous competitors. The two had come on a report that a pair of dancers were doing exceptionally well in a competition; too well, in fact. One of them had tossed the other in the air and caught them, despite neither of them weighing more than 150 pounds.
"It'd take hours to sort through all this stuff." Mike lamented, looking over to a nearby plastic bin full to the brim with even more clothes and props that spilled out over the side. They had so far been unable to find any object that sparked in their static bags, and that was just at the rehearsal studio, not the actual performance hall that the competition took place in.
"Yeah," Oto agreed, crossing his arm and huffing out a sigh, "And that ain't accountin' fer the stuff the guys onstage are wearin'. How're we gonna sort through this stuff before the concert ends and they pick the winner?" There were only a few short rounds left, and the agents were running out of time, and patience.
"Next up," the announcer boomed over the speakers as the previous performers bowed and exited the stage. "Zak Bennet and Cataleya Miller."
The agents and the audience all turned their attention to the stage as two new dancers emerged from behind the large velvet curtain. Zak was dressed in a modest foam-green leotard and Cataleya a matching short-skirted dress with tassels, holding a bouquet of pink and white roses among several other flowers, wrapped in white cloth. They bowed gracefully to the audience, then to each other with eager smiles. Zak grabbed the hand Cataleya was using to hold her bouquet and they began to dance as the music started with the steady vibrato of violins.
As the song went on and sped up, piano and celesta being added in quick chromatic bursts, so too did the duo, spinning and kicking and jumping in rapid succession. The audience was enraptured from the start by the impressive display. The two seemed to anticipate each other's every movements right down to the gestures of their hands.
Mike whistled lowly, clearly very impressed. "Check out those moves. I didn't know people could dance so well together."
"I don't think they can," Oto said, nudging his partner in the elbow and pointing at the pair. "Look at the bouquet."
He was right - as Zak and Cataleya danced, their bouquet glowed slightly with a soft pink light.
Mike smirked and punched Oto playfully in the shoulder, making the other man wince and giggle. "Nice catch Otter. Question is, how do we get it? Ask 'em for it? They aren't gonna give it up easily, I wager."
Before Oto could answer, the crowd erupted in applause. Looking back to the stage, Mike and Oto saw that Zak had Cataleya in a deep dip just as the music slowed to a stop, clutching the bouquet together in their hands. They stood, bowed again and waved to the audience, and walked happily off stage towards the agents.
"Excuse us." Oto said, holding up his hand to halt the still smiling dancing duo as they passed behind the side curtain and out of sight of the audience. "Our apologies, but my partner and I are gonna need that there bouquet if ya two don't mind." He held out his hand expectantly, but anticipated resistance.
Cataleya and Zak looked at each other for a moment, then handed over the artifact with matching beaming smiles. The agents regarded the artifact with very confused expressions, not expecting such a positive response.
"That's okay," Zak said, "we don't need it anymore anyways, right Cat?"
"We were just showing off, we're in this thing for the fun of it really." Cataleya happily agreed before embracing her dance partner in a tight hug. "I don't care whether we win or not, I'm just glad the two of us made the crowd happy. Did you hear how they clapped? Oh, it felt amazing!"
Zak and Cat hugged each other again and waved goodbye to the quite dumbfounded agents as they continued on their way backstage.
"Uh....." Mike said slowly, "is it just me, or did they give us the artifact? ...Willingly?"
"Eagerly even..." Oto said in the same surprised tone. "Side effect of the artifact?"
The two shared a shrug.
Later at the Warehouse, Oto and Mike were storing the bouquet in the Musical Aisle after having it identified as having belonged to Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. They placed the bundle of flowers gently on its side next to a pair of black-and-white tap shoes with Neutralizer-purple felt pads covering up the metal plates, and were now on their way back to the office to check with Charlie before going back to the B&B and calling it a night.
"Easiest snag ever?" Oto asked as they walked, pointing and smirking at his partner. They paused near the entrance, marked by a street sign bearing 'BROADWAY' in white letters on a vivid green plate. He turned around in a slow circle, admiring the collection of artifacts in the section he had rarely ever visited before.
"Easiest snag ever." Mike agreed. "Oh, wait, don't touch that!" He ran over and grabbed Oto's arm to pull it back just as it had been hovering over a button connected to a large marquee with steps in front of it that the other agent had paused to ponder over.
Oto took a step back warily, shaken by Mike's frantic efforts to stop him. "What? Why not? What's it do?"
Mike shook his head grimly and cringed. "This thing is... eugh, you don't wanna know. I've never seen it in action, thank God, but I read the collection report on a whim a few months ago. Let's just say the agents who collected it couldn't walk for... a while..." He chuckled nervously and lowered Oto's arms, and the two resumed their walk.
Halfway back to the office, Oto stopped again and held out his hand in front of Mike. He raised a hand to his ear and looked around curiously. "You hear that Mike?" He spun around as if trying to find the source of something but couldn't pinpoint it.
Mike looked around confused, and even cupped his hands around his ears, but he heard nothing, He shook his head and regarded Oto curiously. "No, I don't hear a thing, sorry. What's it sound like?"
"...Music." Oto answered after a pause. He suddenly grabbed his partner's hand and lifted his arm above his head to spin him around on the tp of his toes, catching him off guard. "Now I wanna dance!"
"Oto, man," Mike said, his voice a little wobbly from his unexpected spin as he tried not to fall over. He spread hi arms out and tried to steady himself, brushing his blond hair out of his face. "You been hit by an artifact or something?"
Oto shrugged and smiled. "Dunno, don't care. What's wrong with a little dancin' anyway?" He took Mike's wrist again and dipped him without warning, putting his free hand on the small of his partner's back. Mike spun his arms out like a windmill and made Oto lose his grip, releasing him and making him fall to the ground, at which Oto giggled.
Mike looked up at him in annoyance before he finally shook his head and conceded with a sigh and chuckle. "Nothing, I guess!" He extended his hand and the other man pulled him back up to his feet. Straightening his ruffled shirt and running a combing hand through his hair, Mike imagined a jazzy swing to groove to, and Oto joined in with his own semi-awkward but valiantly attempted moves, and they laughed as they danced without care.
Ship to Wreck
Sea of Lost Souls
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"WHY AM I HERE AGAIN?" screamed Nikki, over the sound of howling winds and pounding rain. She had been selected as one of the group of agents sent out on the HMS Endeavour, used by the Warehouse for nautical retrievals due to it's ability to sail itself.
"WE NEEDED TO FILL THE RANKS!" replied Myka, equally drenched and irritable. "PETE'S THE ONLY ONE WITH NAVAL EXPERIENCE, HE JUST NEEDED THE 'CREW', AS HE WON'T STOP CALLING US!"
"LOOK ALIVE, CREW!" shouted the man that Myka loathed to call Captain. "STORM'S CALMING DOWN, WE MUST BE CLOSE!" True enough, within minutes the weather had died down considerably and a thick fog had flooded the area. Pete waltzed onto the deck and faced Myka with a smug look on his face. "You're all here because we needed to move quickly and I needed a crew to boss around. If you know someone else suitable for captaining a marine vessel, I'd like to hear it."
Myka resisted the urge to punch his arm and resolved to have a calming twizzler binge when they got home. "So why isn't Felix here then? If anyone would know anything about the history of The Flying Dutchman, it's either him or Artie."
Pete's smile didn't slip an inch. "He's off in Eureka, apprenticing under some guy called Tabbit or Target or something. Artie said it would be good for him to get out a bit more. Besides, it's just another artifact, right? Nothing to be afraid of."
As if on cue, Joe called from the crow's nest. "Dutchman, off the bow! Approaching fast!" Pete jumped into action, flipping a spyglass out of his pocket and looking in the direction specified. Sure enough, just visible through the fog was the outline of a large frigate gliding quickly in their direction.
"Artie's tip was good, it's here! Bering, Nola, man the cannons! Or woman the cannons. Make cannons ready for shooting things!"
The ship swerved to flank the Maria and the agents could see on board. The deck was abandoned, not a single soul was visible. The only thing the ex-Marine could see was a lone figure at the helm. Though barely visible in the fog, the figure raised a hand and pointed it towards the darkening sky. Then it spoke in a way that made the entire crew freeze in fear. "WITH GOD, OR WITH THE DEVIL." boomed the skeletal captain, and it swerved the wheel to ram them.
Regaining his senses, Pete found his voice and yelled to his crew. "Fire cannons!" he shouted, and the sky boomed with sudden thunder all sixteen of Hayreddin Barbarossa's Cannons fired canisters of goo at the haunting vessel. The wind started to pick up and the clouds began unleashing rain again as the fog began to fade, and the crew could see clearly the bony figure of Captain Vanderdecken as the ship faded and vanished into the sea foam. As the last outlines of the ship faded, Pete could have sworn he could see a second figure standing behind him, horned and black skinned. Then it was gone.
Myka, Nikki and Joe ran onto the deck. "Damn, Artie won't be happy. Apparently this thing doesn't often stick around long enough to attempt a retrieval. And we blew it." Nikki rested herself against the mast.
"But that thing didn't even react to the neutralizer, it just vanished." pointed out Joe. "As if it were really..."
"Nope, don't say a word." said Pete. "Artifact escaped. That's the story. Agreed?" A silent look around the faces of his crew told him they had seen the same, and there was a silent moment of affirmation. "So, home then?"
"Home." they all said in unison.
The Univille Horror
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Now that Garrett was old enough, it was decided he needed to learn how to drive. Artie was immediately ruled out, and neither Steve nor Claudia considered themselves good enough teachers, as much an expert on Toyota as Claudia was.
Pete had offered to take on the role of teacher for this lesson and had already taken him to the B&B driveway to jump right in, but was immediately met with opposition from Myka, who believed herself to be the better driver between the two.
Which was, for all intents and purposes, true.
But, Pete refused to let go of the opportunity to teach his pseudo-son? nephew? grandson? how to drive. He and Myka actually argued more intensely over it than Garrett had expected, anxiously watching them from across their shared black SUV. Myka was clearly concerned about both their safety and how good Garrett would actually be able to drive if Pete was his teacher, and Pete took offense to the dig at his skill. And he couldn't deny the desire to vicariously experience something he never got the chance to with his own father. And, maybe, just a little, make up for that one night, with Dave...
In the end, they managed to reach a compromise: Pete would get to teach him, but they had to start driving around in the canyon outside the Warehouse. Then they’d move on to the abandoned roads that lead to the Warehouse. Then they’d drive around Univille proper.
Pete sighed and agreed, and the three of them finally drove off to the Warehouse. When they got there, Myka took the time to draw out mockups of roads in the dirt and grabbed some traffic cones from the Warehouse to mark the edges of mock parking spots and to serve as stop signs. When that was all finished, Myka stood back by the front door to survey their progress.
Pete and Garrett traded front seats, and they got started with their front lessons. After he had adjusted his seat and his mirrors, and was told which pedal was gas and which was break, he put his hands firmly on the wheel, and began to drive.
Garrett did his best to stay within the road Myka had drawn out, but having to constantly micro-adjust the wheel when he felt he was drifting too far to either side was frustrating. He stopped too suddenly at the first “stop sign”, then stopped too late at the next, the front of the car coming to a halt in the middle of the intersection. Then, when he tried to park for the first time, he turned too close to it and ran over a poor, defenseless cone.
Okay, time to try again, then.
The next go-through of the track, Garrett paid even more attention to staying within the confines of his lane, made sure to use his blinker, frequently checked his mirrors, but didn’t touch the gas pedal at all. Slow and steady wins the race, after all… and as empty as this Badlands canyon was, he couldn’t help but imagine busy city roads, cars on all sides. Unable to speed up or even slow down if he was going too fast without colliding and rolling and spinning through the air and slamming down and-
He swallowed dryly.
After a bit of snailing along, Pete advised him to give the car some more gas. “You can’t be like Mrs. Lozenko, Univille actually has a speed limit that goes above 25. Rev it up, kid!”
Speed up a little… okay, he could try that. Garrett took a deep breath and pressed down on the gas pedal… hm, he barely noticed a difference. He pressed down a little more, and the car went a little faster - better, but it still didn’t feel like he was pushing the pedal down far enough.
He pressed down more firmly, and the car zoomed forward down the fake road, jerking him and Pete back against their seats. They both shout in surprise, and Garrett slammed his foot down on the brake, lurching them both forward until they were yanked back by their locking seat belts.
“Oof, guess I don’t need a rock concert to bang my head that hard, ow…” Pete hissed and rubbed his chest where the seat belt had pulled taught the hardest.
“Sorry, sorry!” Garrett grimaced, putting the car in park. Great, now even if he wanted to go fast, he couldn’t properly sense how much he should be pushing down on the gas. How the hell did people figure that out? “I just- argh!” He kicked the underside of the dash, then pressed his head against the wheel.
“Hey hey, it’s okay, man,” Pete said with his signature near-perpetual smile, “It’s your first time, you’re gonna be rough. Not like you can be worse than my first time, lemme tell ya…” he chuckled.
“It’s just…” Garrett sighed and sat back up. “Thinking about going on the road, with other people who might hit me, who I might hit… all the things I have to look out for, thinking about driving in the rain, or on icy roads. Highways!”
Pete’s expression became a little more serious. He turned toward Garrett and put a firm, but gentle hand on his shoulder. “I know all of that must be scary. To be honest, kinda wish I had a little’a that fear when I was your age,” he said. “But I’ve been driving around for decades, so has Myka and Steve and Artie, and Tyler and Bri and Sandy and Nikki and Megan. They’re fine, right? And some of us have been in accidents, and we got a bit banged up, sure - but we’re still here, aren’t we?”
“And besides, you’ve gotta learn to drive yourself around someday.” Pete’s voice deepened a little in an attempt to sound like a firm rock, like his own father. “I know there are a lot of us here that’re around to take you to school or the game store, but that might not always be the case. When you grow up, become an adult, you’ve just gotta… become self-reliant. Gotta know how to do some’a these things, like… cooking your own breakfast, fixing an engine, repairing a leaky roof...”
Garrett shook his head. Logically, he knew he “needed” to learn how to drive, so that he could take care of himself, so that the others wouldn’t have to drive him wherever, whenever all the time. But letting them take care of it for him, letting them take care of him, it was so easy, and they had already been doing it for so long.
Would it be so bad if he left the horses to the coachman while he sat back in the carriage?
Pete looked at him for a few seconds before speaking again. “Would listening to some music help?”
“...Maybe? I guess.”
Pete had Garrett plug in his phone to the car’s radio to listen to his own playlists. He had thought of putting in one of his rock CDs, but figured Nickelback and Alter Bridge wouldn’t be good for his nerves.
With the music on, Garrett put the car back in drive and started again. Pete made sure to talk him through this latest attempt more thoroughly, assuring him that he would get used to the gas pedal in time, and admitting that maybe the big SUV wasn’t the best car to teach with. He muttered about convincing Steve to let them borrow his Prius next time…
To both of their surprise and relief, Garrett actually did a bit better this latest run-through. He stopped smoothly, turned without going over the edge of the road, and finally, parked without hitting either innocent cone!
“Niiice!” Pete beamed with pride, for his student and himself, when Garrett finally put the car in park. Garrett smiled back, and they high-fived triumphantly before getting out of the car. “We should make this a regular thing, keep ya limber and all.” Of course, he’d have to dig out his old driver’s manual and ask Myka for some pointers, but… yeah. They should do this regularly. Had his mother felt this proud and close to him when she taught him how to drive? Was this how his father would have felt? He wanted to hold onto this feeling, keep it close, savor it...
“Maybe, maybe,” Garrett said, relieved it was over. “I’m kind of thinking I like Myka’s idea of starting in the canyon and working my way up.”
Pete pulled him close and draped an arm over his shoulder. “Yeah, she has some good ones every now and then. Hey, maybe in a few months, I can teach ya how to ride a motorcycle too!” He poked Garrett’s side teasingly.
“Pfft,” Garrett rolled his eyes. “A motorcycle, please. I couldn’t pull off the leather jacket.”
O Come, All Ye Whammied
Meeting of the Minds
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Despite being coworkers for several years, Steve and Felix weren't often paired together. One, a former ATF agent, whose entire career was cracking down on drug cases; the other, a chronic stoner that literally had to stay high at all times to prevent his body from tearing itself apart. Neither really had any complaints. However, on the off chance Artie ever did pair them together, he at least had the decency to send them on smaller-scale missions so as to prevent any discord from growing too potent.
They got along... well, they could stand in the same room together. They certainly considered each other friends enough after all the whole Warehouse gang had been through, perhaps even family - but even families can rub each other the wrong way every now and again.
"Look, man, I understand the dependence thing, I've been there - kinda," Steve said tensely as he and Felix walks down an aisle, a bagged artifact from today's snag. "But do you have any idea how annoying it is when I'm going in to question people, trusting you to scope a place out, and when I come out, you've been sleeping in the front lounge the whole time!"
At first, Steve had worried that visiting a yoga retreat would be boring, but a few hours in and the agents were faced with a cultish hive-mind of people capable of scratching their noses with their toes. In the end, when they had been surrounded, they of course had each other's backs and came out victorious - but still!
"I was tired!" Felix said, arms crossed as he walked behind him, not wanting Steve to look at him while his face was hot with shame and frustration. It was frustrating, certainly, because he had absolutely no remorse for his drug use, but at the same time, wasn't exactly a fan of being reprimanded for it... or when his dependency, necessary as it was, interfered with cases. It was embarrassing, and only rekindled the his thoughts of finding a way out of it someday. "I can't stop my body from falling asleep! Besides, would you have preferred I snoop around while I could barely think and risk missing something important?"
"Not to mention you ate my lunch on the plane too!"
"I eat when I'm nervous, eating helps relax the body! And I had the munchies!"
"Both times? And It's honestly a wonder you can think at all with how much crap is in your system all the time!" Steve said angrily. "How long have you been on Hendrix's Bong anyway? I was connected to Maelzel's Metronome for, what, a year tops?"
"Hey!" Felix shouted, his teeth growing sharper, his nails digging into his arms as he gripped tighter. "That's not fair!"
"Isn't it?" Steve stopped and turned on his heel to face Felix. "After I found out I was connected to Claudia and how dangerous it was for her, I didn't stop looking for a way to break our connection for weeks. You've had years. Do you even need to smoke as much as you do?
"Artie had been trying to cure Claire for 15 years, sometimes these things take time!" Felix said, his voice veering dangerously close to whining, which he hated. He didn't have to whine, he didn't need to justify himself to Steve.
"Yeah, sometimes..." Steve said, taking today's snag, a bronze tingsha, from its static bag and using his other hand to turn on the blank shelving screen. "Is it that these things take time, or have you just been too damn blazed to actually bother doing anyth-"
Felix knew he shouldn't have shoved Steve, but between the weed and his feline instincts that tell him to swat and hiss at anything he doesn't like, he shoved Steve hard by the shoulders with a loud "Fuck you!" Steve stumbled and grabbed the shelf to steady himself, and the tingsha in his hand clicked together with a resounding, high-pitched tone. Steve didn't know how much he's- how long he's been- he didn't understand anything!
Steve glared at Felix, but his angry thoughts were interrupted by a flash in his head - a desk, covered in stacks upon stacks of papers, files, and journals, lists of artifacts and research into drugs everywhere he(?) looked. The next moment, another surge in his mind, not an image this time, but feelings. Frustration, exhaustion, determination, a faint, depressing haze of resignation... he(?) needed to sleep, his(?) body was aching and his eyes were dry, but he(?), he(?) had to keep searching... there had to be a way... he(?) was so tired...
Felix saw Steve's expression change to confusion and unfocus, and brief worry that he had hurt him cut through his rage before something flashed in his mind - he(?) was staring down at his(?) fingertip, the sharp pain of a prick still fresh. He(?) looks up and sees someone, a friend? a sister? hiss and suck her fingertip. His(?) heart drops - she was in danger, he had to protect her. Another flash, this time a feeling - a friend, in danger, not taking care of himself, constantly in mortal danger and at a wretched object's mercy. And he(?) couldn't do anything about it. A worry always in the back of his(?) head he couldn't ease.
"I... oh..." Steve muttered. He knew what weed smelled like, but... so that's what it felt like to have it in your system... that was relaxing... almost unnervingly so.
"Oh... I..." Felix muttered. He hadn't felt that sober in... a long time. He kind of missed it.
"You... crap, Felix, I-I'm sorry.." Steve said carefully, standing himself back up. "I... I do understand what you're going through, but.. only a little. You have been looking for a way, for... a long time."
Ugh, an apology, and a really heartfelt one - sentimental moments were so awkward for Felix, he wasn't good with that stuff. And he had just shoved him too, he probably should have apologized first - ugh.
"You... ugh," Felix groaned, "Is it stupid I didn't think about how much you actually care about me? It's stupid, isn't it?" Steve's frustration, albeit still very grating and from a genuine place of annoyance with how his drug use interfered with his work, also stemmed from him watching Felix be so dependent on something to stay alive just like he had been, and he was always in danger of literally coming apart at the seams. They had been working together for years, and Felix was surprised that... anyone cared about him that much. He and emotions and comradery always had this frustrating disconnect sometimes.
"Well, I guess that's one way to get it through your head... literally," Steve said, holding up the tingsha. "But uh, I... shouldn't have assumed you were just being lazy, that was... really shitty of me."
Another apology, ugh. And Felix was still trying to word his apology in his head for shoving him, for thinking he was just a no-fun hard-ass (which he still kind of is but that's not the point and people have their differences and)-
"Apologies accepted, tiger," Steve smirked.
"Okay we need to put that thing away now," Felix walked over, took the tingsha out of Steve's hand, and promptly placed it on the shelf next to its storage screen. From Steve's brain, a brief flash of recognition of a pair of old, black shoes next to the tingsha crossed his mind. "Thinking with shared brains is..."
"Frustrating. And we both like our priv- oh, oh god, that's what furry porn is like? How does that even wor- what is that dog doing with that leopard's-!"
Felix covered his ears, shut his eyes, and sprinted away, spouting a bunch of loud gibberish.
"Does that fox even have ORGANS?!"
In a large, dark room beyond a large gate, filled with naught but the creaking of a nearby boiler-like tank and the settling of the great steampunk expanse beyond. All was silent, as it should be - save for the brief, high-pitched tone of a pair of cymbals just outside.
Two Warehouse agents walked away, leaving the Bronze Sector back to its eerie calm.
One scientist busied his mind with equations to pass the centuries. 'The observed frequency equals the propagation speed of waves plus or minus the receiver's relative speed, over the propagation plus or minus the speed of the source, multiplied by Planck's constant- wait, that's not right.'
'Apologies, that was my equation,' his own voice responded.
Ah, he must have been running two equations at once in his brain and gotten them mixed up. It was so much easier with a tablet or parchment to work with, one for each hand. 'Ah, quite right. Where was I...' He shelved the second equation and went back to reciting the Doppler effect, picturing himself pacing in his underground laboratory, where he was his happiest. Well, other than his thirteenth Warehouse, the bright sterile walls, all his doctorates, the progress-
'The reaction rate constant equals the Boltzmann constant times the absolute temperature, divided Planck's constant, multiplied by... oh, that would be a perfect Warehouse to run, so clean and crisp... what I what I wouldn't give for a testing chamber that large, and a nice mint julep. Wait, I don't...'
'I do,' a woman's unfamiliar voice suddenly chimed in, greatly annoyed, but just as wistful as his own. 'If I had known my ring wouldn't have worked I'd have at least had another margarita just before- who the hell are you?'
'I might ask you the same question, madame,' Paracelsus responded. 'You clearly aren't me, I do not drink. I am not my brother. What is the meaning of this?'
'Where are these voices coming from? Who are you people?' A third man's voice speaks up in Chinese, and Paracelsus barely had to think to translate.
'Wait... madame, are you by chance, encased in bronze?' Paracelsus asked.
'If you're asking that, I'll assume you are as well?' The woman replied.
'What an interesting development...' Paracelsus thought 'aloud'... 'An artifact must have suddenly allowed us to telepathically commune with one another... simple proximity-based telepathy? Or perhaps it's tied to the resonant frequency of our bronze encasement...'
'Oh, I have so many tests I need to run, damn...'
'You could at least let a man sleep,' another man's voice, older and grumpier, huffed.
'More people... I wonder, has the Warehouses entire collection of Bronzed prisoners been allowed conference? Certainly the sector's population must have grown since I was last free...'
More voices spoke up in surprise and confusion at this new occurrence. None of them could see or hear, but now, they could all speak! A good few of them seemed a tad off their rocker, the poor souls - isolation and sensory deprivation for several decades minimum will do that to a person. Paracelsus prided himself on being able to keep his mind busy with his equations, even if he so desperately craved an outlet for his mind.
'Well, I believe introductions are in order. Would anyone like to start?'
'Viola Adair,' the woman with the mint juleps spoke. 'A pleasure.'
'Isaac Parrish. Doctor Isaac Parrish. I went to college.'
Everyone else introduced themselves, both men and women, several of which spoke foreign languages, but seemed to be grasping the conversation well enough, somehow.
'-Theophrastus von Hohen-'
Well that was odd... Paracelsus typically had many thoughts whirlwinding through his head at once, but it usually wasn't that bad... not to mention he was still craving mint juleps, and like he was having a bit of trouble with his lungs, even if he no longer breathed. The need to brag about his titles was typical, though. Ah, probably a side effect of having to spend twice as long Bronzed after his brief conquest of Warehouse 13 and his jump back in time.
'Well,' Paracelsus imagined himself grinning, 'it appears we all have much to discuss...'
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"We have two other guys in HARP...why me?"
"Short straw. Besides, can you see Blaine doing undercover if technology wasn't involved? "
Tyler shuddered, but still glared at Bri through the Farnsworth, "Still...I'd feel safer if you were here. I'm getting antsy being isolated."
"You have your Sabine though, right?" Bri asked as she took a sip of her coffee.
Tyler checked the door to his dressing room before he pulled diesel-punk pistol out of a drawer and showed it to her, "Of course, but there's not exactly somewhere to store it when I'm on stage...especially near the end of the routine."
After a ping had popped up in El Paso, Tyler was selected to go undercover at a strip club to find the artifact from the inside. For the last month, he had been going under the name "Towering" Tyler Garcia and has become the headlining act for the Jackalope's. He knew for sure that there was a Magic Mike artifact somewhere in the building, but even with Bri and Nikki feeding him info from the film, he was still having issues finding it, but he was narrowing it down to a piece of costume from the set, namely the titular character's vest.
Bri attempted to hide a laugh, "Touche, but you think you know what the artifacts is? Escher is getting tired of covering for you at the ice cream parlor and Blaine's taken to swearing in Klingon to your IKEA helpline."
It was Tyler's turn to smile, "Yes, I think it's the vest that one of the other guys here wears for most of his act. I plan to bag it tonight after everyone leaves. After that, I plan to fake a family emergency to get the hell out of here."
"That's good." Bri leaned back and took another sip, "You know...you mentioned in passing that you get to keep your cowboy outfit and the money you've made...could I request a private show when you get home?"
Tyler blushed as he stashed the Sabine into one of his holsters, "Well, I'll consider it..."
A loud rapping cut him off, jolting Tyler back to reality, "Tyler, you're on in ten! Get your ass out here, we've gotta full house tonight!"
"Duty calls." Tyler said as shut off the Farnsworth and stashed it.
Bri smiled slyly as the Farnsworth blinked off...only to see Felix leaning in the door way of the HARP Office in the reflection of the glass.
Spinning in her chair, she panicked a bit, "How long have you been there?"
Felix gave a small laugh, "Enough to know that Tyler isn't undercover in a production of 'Singing in the Rain' like he said he was when I caught him spinning around on pole in the Valentine Aisle..."
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~Why do you have to be a thief with morals? I'm struggling here with a four of spades and a five of diamonds with a six of diamonds, jack of diamonds, and an ace of spades on the flop. I might try to play this out into either a strait or flush. Any luck on finding that artifact?~
~It'd be easier if I knew what was looking for, not just who owned it!~
Escher had sent Tyler and Felix off to an underground poker game in Prague where it was being suspected that the House was using a luck-based artifact to make sure that they always won. Escher picked Tyler for his charisma, and Felix to get in and filch the artifact while no one was looking, and Tyler's high-stakes game was doing just the ticket.
To help them out, Tyler had brought along three artifacts to help them; two of them were bracelets from the Creery Sisters, a set of five sisters who managed to fool scientists into thinking that they were telepathic. The bracelets allowed wearers to communicate telepathically, but the more bracelets being used increased the chances of the wearers being caught. To counteract it, as well as to better his poker skills, Tyler had also brought Gus Hansen's World Series of Poker Bracelet. To keep them hidden from sight, he had slipped them on as anklets so that no one would question why he was was wearing an oddly familiar bracelet and a woman's bangle.
~Look, all I know that it was used during Peter Darke and Johnathan Freedman's study into luck. They must've done something right to imbue the artifact with good luck. I might try to ride this out...thank god they took one of Frank Abanale's checks~ Tyler thought as he took a look at his cards
Felix slunk through the office ~Anything would be a help...~ He lifted a painting off the wall to find a safe, much to his delight ~Found a wall safe. Want to bet that the artifact is in here?~ A laugh from Tyler was he needed to hear ~This is going to take a few minutes to break into...so, how was your month undercover?~
~Well, opening night was a huge success and I snagged the artifact that night afterwards. Next performance was a real train wreck.~ Tyler watched as a two of clubs came up on the turn ~Come on...papa needs a three...~
~Funny...I don't remember Jean Kelly wearing a pair of assless chaps in 'Singing in the Rain' Tyler...or should I call you 'Towering Tyler'?~
Tyler gave a gulp at the table that his opponents took as a sign of a bad hand, raising the stakes to see if he'd fold, but Tyler called them
~How much do you know? No, better question, how do you know? Only HARP knew, and only Steve would've seen through that lie when you caught me in Valentine Aisle...~ He paused ~You little eavesdropper! You listened in when I called Bri!~
~Oh, I did more than just listen. Remember that mirror I brought to Bermuda?~
While Tyler played it cool at the table, inside he was groaning now that he realized that he had a nice, shiny mirror in his dressing room.
Back at the Warehouse, Juan was perusing the Aisles when he came across the stand for the Creery Sister's Bracelets. Realizing that two of them were missing, he picked one up to figure out who was using them where.
~Fine, you got me woven in your web of blackmail. What do you want?~ Tyler asked as he watched the dealer prepare the last card.
~I don't want anything from you.~ Felix smiled as he popped the safe open, ~Well, maybe the occasional inside joke and some teasing about how good you look in a coybow hat and holster; maybe a stallion or bronco joke here and there. Don't worry though, I'm good at keeping secrets. No one will know about 'Towering Tyler', the cowboy stripper. Hey, does BIGL and a survey mean anything to you?~
~Yes! It stands for 'Belief In Good Luck'. Darke and Freedman gave it to several test groups to answer. Somehow this place must've gotten their hands on a spare one.~ Tyler watched as the three of spades flipped over, causing the other players to groan as Tyler revealed his straight ~Felix, how does splitting about, oh...$50,000 sound to you?~
Juan set the bracelet back on the shelf, smiling to himself as he continued back to the Convention Aisle to meet Aden...
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"Thanks again for helping with the rummage sale," Tyler said as he handed a box to Sandy, "With the others out after chasing a Wundt artifact, I was worried that I'd have to haul our stuff to the tables myself."
"That's okay, didn't have much else to do in the Warehouse anyways." The psychic agent replied.
Univille was having it's yearly rummage sale again, and the HARP Consultants always had a table of nick-nacks that they bought from their travels. It was actually surprising how much they could make of some t-shirts and mugs.
"Okay," Sandy said as he placed the box out in the hallway, "Bri's note said that there were a few things in the closet that needed taking care of."
Tyler lead the way to the master bedroom and opened the closet, "Bri wants the leather catsuit that she wore during that one stealth mission to be sold. Also, we have a few ugly sweaters that a thankful person keeps sending us each year. Mustard is not my color."
Sandy laughed as he began pulling the wool knitted sweaters out. As he reached out to grab another hanger, he grabbed a most peculiar outfit. It looked like a cowboy costume, but there was a mesh undershirt and a leather jockstrap hung between the chaps.
When Tyler saw what Sandy had pulled out of the closet, his face went pale, "I can explain...."
Sandy raised an eyebrow at Tyler, "Let me guess...you weren't 'Singing in the Rain', but rather 'stripping round the clock'. I knew we had Gene Kelly's Umbrella already, so I knew that you weren't headlining in a musical..."
Tyler flushed scarlet, "You're not the only one who saw through my lie...you see, HARP had me go undercov-"
"Wait, back up," Sandy stopped him mid-sentence, "I'm not the only one who knows about your short-lived career as a stripper?"
Tyler looked at him sheepishly as he sat down on the bed, "Felix not only eavesdropped on Bri when I called her once, but he may have also played peeking tom with Justus von Liebig's Mirror."
Sandy laughed again, "That cat! Why am I not surprised?"
Tyler stood up and looked the outfit over, "So...what to do with this? I can't sell it without raising eyebrows in Univille, Felix would just buy it off eBay just to torment me, and Bri is expecting it to be gone when she gets back..."
Sandy smiled, "Well, you could always stash it in the Eros Sector. No one would bother to look there."
Juan was doing inventory, and his next stop was the Eros sector.
As he walked down taking inventory, something odd stood out to him, instead of missing an artifact, there was an all new one hanging up. It appeared to be a stripperific cowboy costume. Looking at the tag, his eyes went wide as he read the title: "Towering Tyler Stripper Outfit"
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Liana was on inventory duty with Tyler and Gellar. The two senior Consultants were a bit surprise at the Element of Truth's shock at learning that Buffy was on the Warehouse's payroll, but moved on. The three of them had just finished up in the Samhain Sector as October had just started.
"So, are we done then?" Liana asked as she ticked off the last artifact on her clipboard, the Guardian Scarecrow.
Sarah shook her head, "Not just yet, we have four more to check on. Recent addition, so we have them in a spare vault."
Liana blinked, confused, "Why aren't they with the others then? Shouldn't they be stored with things of a similar energy?" She may have just started with the Warehouse, but she was picking up on how artifacts were organized. For example, she knew to stay far away the Eros sector.
Tyler walked ahead and gestured for them to follow, "Steve, Aden, and I are debating where to stick them. I'm vouching for Dark Vault; Steve, Samhain; Aden, Tupla. But even then, we have to wait until the whole thing blows over."
As the three wove their way to a row of vaults lining the walls, Liana pressed a bit further, "Until what blows over?" but before either could answer, they'd stopped outside one of the doors. Sarah looked to Tyler, who nodded, and put the proper code in, causing the door to swing open.
The door swung wide, revealing four animatronics: a bear, rabbit, chicken, and fox; each bound in purple glowing chains, their eyes lifeless, an occasional shudder coming from them.
"F-Five Nights at...?" Liana stuttered a bit scared.
Sarah nodded, "Freddy, Bonnie, Chica, and Foxy from the original Five Nights at Freddy's. No one in the Warehouse wanted to go after these things so Aden and his hocus-pocus friends took the case. Aden didn't say how they made those Neutralizer chains, but thank god they made them to contain them."
Tyler took a single step into the vault and gave each one a scan over, "No sign the spirits are in them yet Sarah...I think we will have to wait for the film."
Nervous, Liana took a step back, "I thought....Matt told me you don't do horror. How can you handle this?" Matt had brought it up when the HARP/Warehouse Agent had recounted the time he and Tyler collected Krueger's glove.
Tyler walked out for Sarah to shut the door behind him, locking it, "That-" he pointed to the vault, "-is not horror. Those are jumpscares."
Breathing a sigh of relief now that the door was closed, Liana tilted her head, "But, it's a horror game. That's what it's based around."
Geller tossed in her two cents, "Yes, that is true, but what Tyler means is that the gameplay itself isn't horror. If you read a good scary novel, it sticks with you and lingers. FNaF relies on stress and sudden surprise to make you jump out of your seat. Play any of the Silent Hills games, and you'll feel it."
"I...I think I get it." Liana replied as the consultants guided her back to the offices. As they went, something came to her, "Back at the vault, you said you were waiting on the movie?"
Sarah looked over her shoulder, "Warner Brothers bought the rights. Can you say 'cash grab'?"
"As much as I hate the Five Nights series," Tyler said shrugging, "I will give them credit for making actual animatronics for the film. Now let's beg Cawthorn doesn't gave any say on the script, four games in, and he has yet to actually explain anything."
"What's so important about the film though?" Liana asked, "We have the animatronics."
The three reached the HARP office, "Blaine has been piecing the lore as best he can, and he thinks we're dealing with a Liddel or Halloran situation again."
The Element of Truth blinked, "A what?"
"Spirit possession." the former Slayer explained, "Alice Liddell's Mirror stored the spirit of the psychopathic Alice Liddel, the girl who Alice in Wonderland was based on; Walter Halloran was the priest who performed the exorcism that 'The Exorcism' was based on, his crucifix absorbed the demon, but wound up as a prop on the set of the movie, increasing it's power tenfold. People thought the set of the film was haunted."
Tyler picked up where she left off, "Turns out it was. The demon wrecked havoc and even possessed the son of one of the actresses. Cause him to kill his family and himself. HARP went after it, and it possessed Matt." As soon as he said that, he quickly added, "Don't bring that topic up....it's a touchy subject."
Geller gave a small huff, "He also doesn't want to admit that Buffy kicked him in the nuts."
Liana quickly shook her head, "Noted, but back to the whole spirit thing with FNaF?"
"Oh, sorry, right." Tyler corrected himself as he got the door for the women, "You see, Artie has a working theory about the spirits. Back in-"
"Wait," Liana cut in as she took a seat in a recliner, "Artie, Mr. Anti-Game Grumpy Pants, has a theory dealing with FNaF?"
Geller crashed in the seat next to her, "This goes further back than that. Back in 1993, there was shooting at a Chuck E. Cheese in Colorado. A disgruntled former employee came back and shot four of the staff members while a fifth survived. Some YouTuber put the shooting and first game together, and Artie did some digging on the murder case and even managed to interview the shooter before his execution was put on hold."
"Didn't do us much good," Tyler continued, "But the current theory is that as long as Cawthorn doesn't makes a fifth FNaF game, that when the movie is over, those spirits will return to the original suits."
Liana leaned back, holding her head, "How often does anything actually make sense around here?"
"Not often," Sarah replied with a grin, "But you'll find the method in the madness soon enough."
What Dimension Are You Even In?
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Tyler is sitting at a desk working on some art on his computer when his Farnsworth goes off. Flipping it open with his free hand, he doesn't glance at it as the screen blares to life, "Lepido, go for it."
Over the speakers, the cranky voice of Arite reaches him, "Tyler you wouldn't know by chance why there's suddenly a white door and doorframe in the middle of the TV Aisle do you?"
Now this caught Tyler's attention. Now breaking from his computer, he focuses on the Farnsworth, "Can you open it?"
Artie hesitantly opens it a bit and pokes his farnsworth into it to show a spinning swirl and an giant eye.
Seeing this Tyler smirks, "Artie, you're traveling through a dimension not only of sound but of sight and mind. It's a dimension of shadow and substance; of things and ideas..."
Artie pulls it out and looks at him: "Stop speaking in riddles Tyler, what is this thing?"
Tyler smirks, "You just peered into...the Twilight Zone."
"But we already have Serling's Lighter." Artie points out, "Where'd did this thing come from?"
"Here's the thing; CBS is bringing the series back and unlike it's crappy reboots in the 80s and 2000s, Jordan Peele's taking it back to it's roots with biting social commentary. The Super Bowl commercial was a huge hit. Hell, that's where Aden and Draco found the thing, in the middle of the Atlanta stadium a few hours after the game ended. We just haven't had the time to properly tag it yet." Tyler smiled.
Artie grunted, "Last thing we need is another Little Girl Lost...."
The HARP Consultant's smile quickly faded, "I'd be more worried about 'Monsters are Due on Maple Street', once was originally the Cold War scare got remade into be bluntly about terrorists. If Peele keeps up the prowess from 'Get Out', that door is going to be a gateway to a lot of danger. I'd say have it on a list for Dark Vault candidates until after the first season airs. If things get dicey with Disney and the Hollywood Tower of Terror, I can imagine that doorway will bridge the gateway into the fifth dimension and into the Twilight Zone."
Even by Warehouse Standards
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"Come on, Hugo, or we'll miss him!" Vanessa shouted to her partner behind her as the two ran after their target. "There's no telling where he'll go if we miss him now!"
Hugo, the less spry of the two, scrambled behind her while panting and holding his side. "You know, I think I prefer listening to Arthur go on about his piano to this! I *ooph* wasn't exactly star runner on the track team!"
The two were chasing after a thief wearing a smart suit and donning a large pack on his back who had made off with several duffel bags of cash from a local bank despite the tight security, and they had just caught the culprit in the act. As they chased him down the street Vanessa pulled out her Tesla and aimed it ahead of her, firing. However, the target ducked behind a nearby car at the sidewalk and the blast ended up shattering a window. A woman screamed as they ran on past and Hugo paused for a moment.
"Don't worry, I'm sure your insurance will cover-"
"HUGO!" Vanessa yelled from down the street, turning a corner. The man just shrugged with an apologetic smile and started running again.
Eventually they cornered the man down and alley, trapping him between their aimed firearms and a brick wall. The thief looked around frantically for an escape.
"Nowhere to run now, mister," Hugo said, holding up his gun, "just be a nice lad and hand over the cash and the artifact, and we'll go easy on you."
"Way to be cliché, Hugo," Vanessa commented, casting a side glance at her partner, "Good Cop was always your shtick, huh?"
"At least I'm the Good Cop, we can't always be Ms. Debbie Downer now can we? If I had a nickel for every time you thought about the consequences of meeting up in the Dark Vault-"
Vanessa lowered her Tesla a bit and looked directly at Hugo, annoyed. "Hey, you and I ended up going back at least 4 times since then, so you can't talk like I still object every time you send me an invitation through the Farnsworth's private line."
Hugo scoffed, "You get that objecting look in your eyes every time, it was almost chronic before I came along and-"
"Are we really doing this in the middle of a case? Right when we're about to catch the bad guy?" Vanessa asked incredulously, "Just get the artifact!"
But while they were arguing the thief had reached into their backpack and pulled out an old salmon-pink parachute. Holding it up above his head in his arms, he started running straight for the two agents with a determined, but not fearful look in his eyes. Just as Vanessa raised her Tesla to fire the parachute filled with an unfelt gust of wind and lifted the man into the air, where behind him the air seemed to ripple and shift before it opened up and absorbed him and he vanished along with the money.
Hugo and Vanessa looked into the air silently, the former rubbing his chin in thought.
"Now, in hindsight", he began, "I suppose I could have kept my mouth shut this one time."
Vanessa looked at him with a stern and frustrated look before saying calmly, "You think?" She walked off, pulling her Farnsworth out to tell Artie the artifact had escaped and Hugo followed quickly behind.
"I know what'll turn that frown upside-down!" Hugo said happily, trying to diffuse the tension, "When we get back to the Warehouse, we could have a little visit from Mar-"
"If you suggest Mary Jane one more time this evening I won't hesitate to tell Mrs. Frederic what you did with her purse." Vanessa said flatly, shutting Hugo up immediately.