Every year, the agents of the Warehouse are invited to take a seat around King Arthur's Round Table to submit a memory of their defining moment of the Warehouse, a memory that is stored and shared among future agents.
The memory may be selected or put up to the whim of the Warehouse. Every year, on May the 19th, agents may submit a new memory to override their previous one. Only one memory may be submitted a year. After exactly seven days, the chamber will be locked to memory additions.
ATTENTION ALL AGENTS; the Memini Chamber is now open.
- 1 Aden Taylor
- 2 Artie Nielsen
- 3 Blaine Biston
- 4 Bri Rependata
- 5 Felix Draco
- 6 Garrett Scott
- 7 Jacob Torres
- 8 Jennifer Lockhart
- 9 Joe Barlett
- 10 Juan Horado
- 11 Matt Sordens
- 12 Megan Wilcoxson
- 13 Mike Korss
- 14 Nikki Nola
- 15 Oto Barry
- 16 Sandy Calecer
- 17 Scott
- 18 Steve Jinks
- 19 Tyler Lepido
“Are you sure about this, dude?” Aden asked. He and old friend Phillip Copper stood in the Game Room, an average sized chamber of the Manor Ascendant illuminated by a Neutralizer-purple light. Harold, a tall, well-built albino man wearing a Taursces shirt sat at the small table in the center of the room. Sitting on top of it, ready to play, was the Skaian Chess Set and a glass of water.
“Sure as can be,” Phil replied. “I’ve passed the challenges and you’ve given me as much prep time and back out time as you can, and I still want to do this, Aden! Let me try.”
“Alright, no going back. Aden headed to the door, switching off the neutralizer light filter as he shut the room behind him, leaving Harold alone.
For almost an hour, Aden heard nothing but the quiet ticking of a nearby clock. He nearly drifted off before a sudden light flashed under the door.
He bolted upright and burst into the room. The chess set was in a decisive Prospit victory, the pieces apparently encased in vines to hold them back, while a Rook stood before the Black King. Phil still sat in his chair, now holding a faintly glowing pocket watch. “You won?” Aden asked, getting a nod in reply. “Gonna open it? Not official till you do, buddy.”
His fingers slipped on the clasp a couple times but Harold eventually popped the watch open, illuminating him in an amethyst light. Aden watched as the light shimmered into the beige form of an Heir of Life outfit before retreating. . . . “Hail, Phil Copper, Heir of Life!” Aden announced to the Ascendere, who bowed in respect to the new Risen One.
Aden and the Creed
Aden and the Creed Aden stood in the middle of a city park in Boston, chatting casually with an Assassin’s Creed fan dressed as the Assassin Altair. Aden himself was wearing his Rogue of Space outfit. Wandering in the background stood Soul, Juan and Pete, the latter of whom was tending to a cut and holding a large static bag containing a red paint-stained hoodie (at least, they hoped it was paint).
“Look, that thing’s dangerous.” Aden was explaining. "I appreciate you helping me take that last guy down, but your hidden blade’s dangerous!”
“It’s an Assassin’s signature weapon, of course its dangerous! That’s the idea!” the cosplayer snapped back.
“That thing might be affecting your head!” Aden replied, keeping his voice calm. “You know as well as I the downside of spending too much time with an Assassin’s power."
“I… I can handle it…” The cosplayer’s voice seemed unsure though.
“Maybe… but for how long?”
They thought it over, before brightening. “How ‘bout a race? First one to reach the Old State House and back, without touching the ground gets to keep the blade!”
“… sounds fair.” Aden nodded. “Can I see a map? I’m not a Boston native, I’m afraid!” he added with a chuckle.
After observing the intended path, the two shook on the agreement and parkoured up to a building, glancing at Juan down below. Juan, who was simply wearing a red Hero of Time T-shirt and jeans (Soul wearing a large Hero of Life one), raised his staff which signaled the start of the race.
The pair zipped off, leaping building gaps with ease. “You think you can beat me Homestucker?” Aden’s opponent called out in a teasing voice. "I know this city like the back of my hand!”
“Not a chance, Assassin!” Aden crowed, executing a flawless roll. “I got one helluva a mental map!”
Below, Soul and Pete were following in a car, the latter clearly impressed with the ease the racers were exhibiting in their free-run. Soul could see the excited grin on his boyfriend’s face several stories below.
Aden’s feet landed solidly on the roof of the famous building for only an instant before he whipped back the way he came. Close on his heels was the cosplayer. The pair leaped gaps, and flipped over ledges and pipes with increasing ease.
The two made it back to their starting point within seconds of each-other. “That was a… good… race!” the Assassin panted, a smile on his face.
“Yeah…” Aden answered. “Haven’t had... this much fun… in awhile!”
The Assassin stood up straight and unbuckled the hidden blade from their arm. “Deal’s a deal. Remember; Nothing is true.”
Aden smiled and gently took the prop. “Everything is permitted.”
The memory faded from the air air above the table, with Aden leaning back in his chair with a pleased sigh. “Thank you, Warehouse."
The Coiling One Lives
It was sunset on the western edge of Egypt, as a dark blue-tinged wormhole opened onto a specific mountain bearing a ruined temple entrance constructed in a very old style, even for a history as old as Egypt.
Out of the wormhole stepped Aden Taylor, having gotten permission to explore the ancient cave from the Regents. He was dressed in a modified version of his usual “God Tier” outfit, styled in an Egyptian theme. At his waist hung two short swords, on his back a bag containing the supplies typical for a Warehouse Agent, and in his hand a custom-made was scepter.
Aden sighed as he looked around, the wormhole collapsing behind him. Seeing nothing but the temple, he rolled his neck and pressed forward into the structure, pulling out his phone and starting a recording as he spoke. “This is Agent Taylor. I’ve found the Gates of Manu, going in now.”
Aden made his way down a long cave, lighting a flashlight as he hovered along. The walls were covered in countless hieroglyphs, detailing, among other things, Ra’s transformation into his evening form of Khnum. “Gods of Egypt I wish I could read all of this...” he muttered, more to himself than his recording. “It looks like a complete diagram of Egyptian mythology as told from the perspective of the gods themselves... Creation, the Journey, Horus and Set...” he chuckled. “Just... wow man!”
Eventually, his phone saying six PM local time, Aden finally made his way into the first cavern. In front of him lay a flowing river leading away from a massive waterfall which filled the cavern with a loud rumble. “First chamber... the Watercourse of Ra!” Aden looked around, speaking up over the noise. “Legend states that this place was lit up by fire-breathing snakes... whether or not these were a variant of Eternal Serpent, I have no idea! They don’t seem to be around...”
At the end of a stone pier, Aden tugged a Neutralizer baggy from his bag and withdrew from it a folded cloth before tossing the cloth into the river. There was a flash of light, and a decently sized Viking longship sat on the water in full sail. Smiling to himself, Aden boarded the Skidbladnir, which immediately departed.
As the rumble of the waterfall faded into the background, a massive wall and gate stood open before him. “Oh Flame Face,” Aden called out. “Open for one who follows Ra’s eternal light!”
The Skidbladnir sailed through into a beautiful field of reeds. “The Second Kingdom of Night - Ur-Nes, although we may know it better as Aaru, the Egyptian equivalent to the Elysium Fields!”
The Journey continued on, with Aden giving an Egyptian mythological hyperfocused explanation of each section.
“The Watercourse of the Only God, where Osiris judges the dead.” True to Aden’s word, an abandoned set of scales stood alone on a spit of rock. “That might be an artifact, but do I dare upset the balance of Ma’at by taking it?”
“The Living One of Forms, the Mouth of the Tomb.” Aden exercised his Risen One abilities to allow Skidbladnir to fly down the new waterfall into the deep ravine.
“Hidden. The god Seker was said to punish people by dunking them into the boiling waters here.” The river flowed over hot rock, bringing the water to a roiling boil. At the bottom of the river appeared to be skeletal human remains.
“The Realm of Night and Darkness-where Khepri lives before bringing Ra to the surface at dawn.” This cavern was illuminated by a green-gold light.
“Abyss of waters.” Aden explained as midnight and the entrance of the sixth kingdom passed. “Part of Osiris’ domain, not a lot is known about this place.” Aden aimed his camera around at the temples and gigantic lion-shaped rock. “I swear something’s watching me in here...” he muttered, his voice lowered. “Creepy.”
At last, Aden and the ship entered the Seventh Kingdom: “The Secret Cavern, home to Apophis.” Aden drew his swords and cast his eyes around. All he saw was the collosal skeleton of the Eternal Serpent Egypt had named as Apep, but he could hear something breathing.
“Something in here is alive...” he said aloud as he brought the Skid to a halt at the riverbank. “Did Apophis have a child?” Aden muttered as he strode close to the Chaos Serpent. Hesitantly, Aden stretched out a hand and touched the skull. It had a large whole burned through where the brain would logically have been. “Well... it’s not Apep, he’s definitely dead.”
Suddenly, the ground shuddered as whatever was breathing apparently woke up. Aden backed up fast as a massive snake, equal in size to the skeleton on the ground raised itself up and looked around, its tongue flicking in and out. “Oh holy Ra... an Eternal Serpent... and it’s ALIVE!” Without a second thought, Aden took to the air, as the snake whipped around and stared at him. “Okay... it sees me, and I see it.” Aden looked closerand turned to the rest of its body, coiled comfortably around a statue of Isis. “It’s not Apep... “It’s Mehen.”
Mehen nodded at the mention of its name, before slowly looking toward the skeleton of Apep and the ship docked next to it. Mehen then pushed the Skidbladnir back onto the river and nosed it along before returning its gaze to Aden, following him as the Risen One alighted on the dock. Seemingly satisfied, Mehen’s head withdrew to its coils, and Aden released a breath as soon as he passed the next gate.
“Oh Ra, oh Ra, oh Ra... it’s alive, Mehen is alive and directly under Egypt...” Aden repeated several times before collecting himself. “Well, that was nerve-wracking. Anyway... continuing on my report of the Duat, this is the Sarcophagus of the Gods, which, as the name implies, is where gods go when they die.”
Aden’s following of the journey of Ra concluded as the Skidbladnir sailed out of a serpent-shaped cave onto a lake some hours later at daybreak. “Well. That was certainly something!” He commented. “This is Agent Aden Taylor, packing up and signing off.”
A Whole New World
"Look Blaine," Tyler said as he, Matt, and Blaine hid in Artie's Office, "I know that you've finished installing the Artifact Organizer Database, but we could really use you here at the Warehouse."
"If it's about the alternate timeline and the two years I spent with you guys, that's not a problem." Blaine reassured the consultants, "While Eurkea may have the 'no time travel' rule, it technically wasn't time travel. I basically was transported between two alternate timelines that in theory-"
"We mean that you could at least stick around to help neutralize Andy Mooney's Disney on Ice pamphlet that you activated!" Matt cut him off, "I don't think you realize how powerful that thing is. Andy Mooney started the 'Disney Princess' line after seeing little girls dressed up like generic princesses. That line has become a powerhouse for Disney, and that powerhouse was too strong for Bri and Nikki to resist."
Earlier that day, Blaine had accidentally knocked Andy Mooney's Disney on Ice pamphlet off a shelf, causing the Disney Princess magic to enthrall the female employees at the Warehouse. Currently, Claire and Claudia were acting out Anna and Elsa respectively, causing a massive blizzard to errupt from the Aisle of Noel that reached the Fairy Tale Sector. Meanwhile, Myka had taken on the role of Belle, causing smaller artifacts to take setience. Needless to say, chaos was reigning over the Food Pantry.
Tyler peeked out the window overlooking the Warehouse to see if Nikki or Bri had shown up yet, "No sign of them. Have any idea on who the girls got paired up with?"
Blaine quickly keyed in some data to his iPad, "If my guesses are correct, then Mary should've been bonded to Pocahontas. Heh, can't wait to see how Aden deals with all the colors of the wind..."
"Sorry," Blaine brushed back his hair, "Okay, that leaves still leaves several of the princesses left, but if I'm right then they should've bonded with...
An arrow came brusting through the window, over Tyler's ducked head, and impaling Blaine's iPad to the wall, "...Merida and Mulan."
On a nearby shelf, Bri dressed in an emerald green dress was aiming a bow directly into the room, ready to fire another arrow. Next to her stood Nikki, decked out in chinese armor with her hair in a ponytail and a jian in hand.
Matt looked as his friends, "Look, we'll have to split up. Tyler, give me McComb's Sword and I'll make a lady out of Nikki. You'll have to face Bri, but I think you'll need this." Matt handed him his Sabine, "A little akimbo never hurt."
"What about me?" Blaine asked, still staring at his destroyed iPad.
Tyler looked at him as he handed the sheathed sword over, "We'll distract them, you have to retrace your steps and neutralize the artifact." With that, Matt charged out of the door and lept on the zipline, causing Nikki/Mulan to follow him across the shelf tops. Meanwhile, Tyler took cover under the shattered window and began firing dual Sabines at Bri/Merida who was negating them with well-aimed arrows.
Crawling to avoid the crossfire, Blaine snuck down the stairs to the Warehouse floor, "I've gone through rouge AIs, cellphones that can shut down cities, time travel, and wormholes, but nothing could've prepared me for a Disney twist on ladies night out..." He took a pause and thought about all he had learned in the last few weeks and realized it was stuff that he would've never had learned in Eurkea.
Maybe, just maybe I do want to be part of this world...
That's Mistress To You
"I never liked this game..." Bri muttered as she helped the last of the passengers off what had been a run away Ferris Wheel.
Escher had picked up a major ping in Hawaii and sent all four agents to investigate. As it turns out, they were in over their head; the Original case of Cards Against Humanity was being played, twisting reality around it to match the sick, twisted combos that were coming out. So far, the agents were forced to split up and already had to deal with adult film stars named Joey 'Bop It' McGee, an after-school "White Privlege" club, and a man in a cycle of sex and bacon.
While Nikki and Matt were now handling "Whatever a McRib is made of", Tyler and Bri had managed to track down the teens who were using the artifact.
"What a surprise," Tyler sarcastically said as he peered into the basement window of the frathouse, "College students with nothing better to do." Getting up, he met Bri by the door, "Okay, there are five of them, but we'd better get in there now. The black card is 'The five stages of grief: denial, grief, bargining, blank, and acceptance'. Going to take a wild guess that this is going to effect a few artifacts back at home if that round finishes."
Bri turned the Skeleton Key in the doors lock, causing it to open with ease, "I swear if 'the biggest, blackest-"
Tyler rushed past her into the house, Sabine drawn. "Murphy's Law...do you really want to chance it?".
They quickly found the basement door. Kicking the door in, Tyler rushed down the steps yelling, "H.A.R.P., put the cards down!" Following him, Bri managed to reach the bottom of the steps to see Tyler get engulfed in a blast of white and black beams of light. When the glare faded, she saw Tyler...with chainsaws for hands.
Tyler looked at them, and then at the college students, "Really 'Chainsaws for hands, high five man'? That's the best you could come up with?" He then turned to Bri, "Tell me you have an idea."
The Students then saw her and began going through their victorious combos to find something to use on her. As the did so, Bri fished through her shoulder bag for a familiar looking whip...
Tyler's eyes went big as she pulled it out, "No..no...hell no! Why do you even have Berkley's Whip? Do you not remember the time that I almost bled to death after you schackled me up?"
Bri tried to calm him down as she hurried down the steps, "I've been practicing being able to handle the inner dominatrix for the last month...I've gotten to the point where I can control the force." She removed the purple glove on her right hand and took hold of the handle. Doing so caused a black lace-like design run up her arm as her eye went golden.
Bri cracked the whip, getting the attention of the men, "You've been very bad boys and you should be punished..." her voice has slightly dropped and picked up a faint english accent.
"That's impossible," one of the jocks stammered, "German Dungeon Porn is still in my hand..." Bri's response was another crack of the whip that landed between the man's legs.
"Question me again, and you'll get more than that..." Bri held up the silver bag, "Cards...now, otherwise you'll see what I'm really capable of."
"I told you I never liked that game," Bri said as she set down the Cards Against Humanity box on the shelf in the Fun & Games Sector, "Heaven help us if that game ever gets opened again."
Matt held the lader for her as she climbed down, "While that's true, Tyler told us that you managed to control Theresa down in the basement. How'd you do it?"
Reaching the floor, Bri dusted her blouse off, "Practice. That and knowing that I was capable of more than just settling arguments between the four of us. Besides, when one gives you power, you don't exactly turn it away. You of all people should know that Matt..."
Reception of Old Friends
((Note, this follows the ending of 'The Big Day' which take place after 'The Warehouse Job' and series finale of Leverage))
To save time, the wedding's reception was also held in the yard of the B&B. As soon as the wedding had finished, tables were brought out for both dining and serving of dinner as the non-wedding party Warehouse members helped to haul out the food that Abi had been slaving away over all day. Even Target agreed to be hooked up to a wagon to help pull out coolers of water, soda, and other beverages.
After the first few dances, the newlyweds started to go around and greet their guests, and Bri immediately grabbed her husband by the hand and pulled him over to a group of six. When they got near, Bri and a dark haired woman embraced.
Pulling apart, Bri was so excited, "I'm so glad you guys all could make it! I was afraid that something would come up."
Tyler blinked as she went and shook hands with the rest of the group before speaking up, "So, I take it they're your side of the family?"
Bri blushed as she looked back at her husband, "Not really...you remember that time Artie sent you, Nikki, Blaine, and Sarah up to Alaska?"
"How could I forget? 'You're from northern Wisconsin' Artie said," Tyler's voice went dead, "'You'll be able to handle it' he said." He shook his head in disgust, "Sorry, off topic, but yeah, hard to forget, why?"
The newlywed rocked a bit, "Well, it's a long story, but Tyler, I want you to meet the core members of Leverage International. Nate, Sophie, Eliot, Paker, Hardison, and-" Bri stopped short, "Who are you?" She looked at the sixth member of the group, a slender college aged guy with chestnut hair and thin glasses, "I didn't send you an invite."
The mystery man smirked, "That's okay, I forged my own."
"You....forged....a wedding invite?" Tyler looked at Bri, "What the hell went down while I was freezing up in Alaska?"
The blond woman, Parker, spoke up, "Nicholas here is one of new members, forger, saves Hardison a lot of time. Besides, we needed to recruit since Nate and Sophie retired."
Bri looked at them and smiled, "Really? Wait- retired...together?" Bri couldn't help but smile, "Well, know that the two of you are welcome in Univille whenever you want. Just no breaking into the pantry again."
Nicholas blinked, "Am...I missing something here?"
Bri and the other Leverage members in unison quickly replied, "Don't ask." Putting his hand up Nicholas wandered off towards the food table.
"That reminds me," the longer-haired man who Tyler was pretty sure could give Matt a run for his money spoke up, "Bit insulted you didn't call Bri."
The bride bit her lip, "I tried Eliot, but when it came time to plan the menu, you guys weren't in Boston anymore and it wasn't until I got the menu from your guy's place in Washington did I know where you were and by then the town kinda offered to do a potluck sort of deal, spear-headed by Abigail." She pointed out the B&B's new owner who was almost passed out in a chair, cold drink in her hand.
Eliot nodded and looked at the others before back to Bri, "Might spend a few days here after the wedding. Think Abigail would mind some lessons?"
"If it means she'll be using some of your techniques, I'm sure she won't mind having a guest."
Finally she went over to Hardison, "I take it you apperciated the fact I included the wi-fi password in your invite?"
He laughed, "You have no idea. I was afraid I'd have to worry about loosing my high score in 'Mafia Underground'."
Tyler rocked back and forth on his heels when he heard this, "Sooo....you play Mafia Underground?"
"Yeah, gift from Bri after some of you Warehouse guys helped us out with a job, "Said that she had ties to the creators and figured I'd like it."
The groom bit his lip, "Thanks...Blaine and I worked hard on it."
Hardison and Trevor quietly stared at each other for a bit before the hacker cut in, "Hell no. Bri, you did not tell me you were dating the creator! You and I are going to have to talk if you have plans for a sequel. Hell, get Nick in on this too."
"Well, Blaine and I have a few ideas that we've been considering acting on-"
Bri stepped between her new husband and Hardison, "Okay, save the game jam for after we get back from the honeymoon." She then looked at Tyler and hissed, "There's a reason the two of you haven't acted upon those ideas."
Tyler sighed, "Fine...fine, but you can't expect me to pass up two more hands on the game." he said offering a hand to Hardison, "Email me, and we'll talk."
Nate smiled as he rounded the rest of the Leverage crew up, "We won't keep you from your other guests any longer Mrs. Lepido. You two go on and have some fun."
As the newlyweds headed away, Bri glanced over her shoulder and called out to Sophie, "We're still not even for that frying pan incident!"
Tyler looked at his wife, "Frying pan incident? You said that bruise was from the Baylor Dodgeballs...."
A New Start
Felix had been at the Warehouse for a week now. He had seen the FISH, explored the aisles and almost been killed by several artifacts he couldn't resist examining. Most facinating to him was the thick, purple slime called Neutralizer. Goo, as Claudia had insisted on calling it, could disable the effects of artifacts, stop them hurting people. She said she had no idea how it worked, and Felix was in no rush to find out. If it did as it was said to do, he may have finally found a place where he could be free.
He hesitantly fingered the silver pendant around his neck, a small owl symbolising Athena. His fiance had bought it to celebrate their one year annaversary, two weeks before their fight and the accident. He'd stormed out in a rage over some issue, now long forgotten and inconsequential. Two hours later, Felix, though he went by another name at the time, got a call from a solemn officer. He was told that there had been a crash, a drag-racer had swerved onto the sidewalk and struck his love. He'd died instantly.
Felix had cried, first in grief, then guilt. The fight was petty, and now because of it he was alone. It was at the very moment he directed the blame to himself that the pendant had grown heavy. The world seemed darker, almost grey. Sounds dulled. All of existance seemed to mourn. In grief and anger, he had tried pulling the necklace off, but it's weight was to heavy and every attempt to pull it off caused new pangs of guilt and misery.
Now, standing with a tub of the violet goo in front of him, there was relief. He plunged his head and shoulders into the goo and felt the chain slip off his neck. There was no agony, just a feeling of release. In that moment, Felix knew he could make his new life here, free from the grey and guilt that had followed him for almost a year. He felt free, and happy.
Some Other Beginning's End
"I'm happy to see you're finally comfortable talking about this. I know you were most affected by Garrett's passing." Abigail Cho, Warehouse Secret Keeper, B&B Owner and resident psychologist sat with Felix in the dining area of Leena's. "No-one has seen you for almost a week now, everyone has been really worried."
"I just...needed some time to myself. I can't help feel as though everything that happened was my fault. He only opened the muffin tin because I asked him to watch for my package, and it only affected him so much because he felt I didn't care about him."
Abi placed a hand on his shoulder. "You know that's not the case. Whoever sent that artifact to him is to blame. Artie and the Regents have put it on high priority finding the sender. They'll be brought to justice, or worse if the others get to them first."
Felix cocked an eyebrow. "I thought Warehouse agents didn't kill?"
Abi leaned back in her chair, a faint smile on her face. "Officially we don't. But Myka and Claudia are scouring the systems with barely any rest, Tyler and Bri are out in the field tracking abnormalities in the postal system and Juan and Aden have their little group, the...Ascended-dairy?"
"Yes, them. They're hunting for gatherings of artifacts. We haven't been idle, we cared for Garrett as much as you and we're not letting this stand." Abi frowned, looking at the expression on Felix's face. A mixture of satisfaction and deep pain. "Something still bothering you?"
"It's just...this is the third time this has happened to me. It's made me afraid to care for people. When I start to get close to someone they end up dead. First my fiance, then in Australia...now Garrett. He was right, you know. I didn't love him, not the way he wanted. But I wanted to try. I was going to use that bracelet as some kind of ice-breaker. Now it's the only thing keeping me stable through all of this."
Abi stood and moved to sit next to him, then wrapped her arms around him. "We'll get through this together, Alex. I know you have trouble moving on, but you're not alone anymore. In the last three years you've gathered a whole family here. And there have been some losses and some additions, but you'll always have the Warehouse."
Felix smiled, his eyes tearin up slightly. "Thanks Abi. You're right. I'll get through this. At least I'll never forget him." He placed a hand over his wrist, where the rubber bangle hung. "But right now, I think they'll need some help. At the very least, it sounds like some of the guys need a rest."
Felix hugged Abi and left the room, leaving the older woman alone. She smiled to herself and wiped a tear from her eye. "I'm getting good at this. I should ask for a raise."
Chand, the Heir of Light, stirred. His eyes opened and shone with a faint light. He took a moment to adjust to this new way of seeing, then got to work on his bindings. Simple rope was child's play. Without disturbing the other Ascendere members tied to various pipes of the Gooery, he snuck out into the aisles with a clear goal in mind. He avoided being seen by several groups of people running through the stacks, some in an unusual series of rainbow shades, until he reached the shelf he wanted. He hefted the reel-to-reel onto his shoulders and made his way to the sparring grounds
The machine whirred to a stop as Felix regained his consciousness. "Everything in tip-top order, I hope?" The charming British accent of Helena Wells greeted him as he unsteadily staggered from the seat of her time machine. "Yeah, I got what I needed. Thanks for doing this." He offered a smile to her, and received one back. "Well, whatever your reasons, I'm sure they must have been important. I can't think of why you of all people would want to go back to then, of all days."
Felix stood in his workshop. Wires, electronics and other assorted gadgetry surrounded the tables and shelves around him. In the center of this mess was the still body of a young red fox, a bangle of sorts around it's front left paw. Felix inhaled sharply, plugged one of the many cables into a large panel on his desk and flipped a switch. Energy in waves of red, green and purple sparks danced over the assortment. Felix looked relieved.
He grabbed another cable and quickly joined it to an old reel-to-reel propped on a stack of books. The warped voices of Scott and Garrett echoed through the room. "Don't say it! I should've figured you didn't love me!", "Felix, I'm sorry. Don't tell me I don't need to say it, because I do. I should've known that you remembered." The voices warbled over each other, igniting the power of Martin Luther King Jr.'s iconic speech. The voices of Garrett's very soul mixed with another artifact that was spinning around a reel, his own bracelet that had become imbued with his memories and emotions as life escaped him. The two artifacts glowed and sparked, sending the energies through the wires and into a large mess of circuits and cables.
This was the framework for a massively powerful virtual world that had once been used to imprison many of Eureka's greatest minds. Now it was being used to create one. Felix watched the monitor carefully as a 3-D model of Garrett was rendered into existence. A data scan showed patterns almost identical to another brain-wave function that had been saved to the system, filed only as "HolMar". Felix didn't know who this was, but it meant that Garrett's brainwaves had been successfully recreated and could now be transferred. A few more keystrokes and the arcing energy sped through another wire into, rather unexpectedly, an ancient-looking zoetrope. It spun with immense power, as the dancing couple inside built up the force required to send the mental prowess onward.
And onward it went. Another wire took the ever-growing power to an odd looking headset that was carefully balanced on the head of the still fox. Felix could only hope Blaine had worked out all the kinks in Fargo's B.R.A.I.D. system, this was going to be a big data dump. One more bright flash as the accumulated energy of various artifacts flowed into the fox. The beast jolted and shook for a while, then everything went suddenly dark. The flow stopped and all of the moving parts and bright flashes came to an abrupt end.
Felix began to panic. He rushed to the fox, yanking it away from the smoking headset. This had been his big chance at bringing Garrie back, and now...the bangle on the fox's leg was flickering. The artifact shuddered. The fox seemed to wobble. The bangle sparked and shone and the fox's fur rippled. It seemed like the artifact, now clearly a bulky blue digital watch, was trying to decide something. And it came to a consensus. The form of the fox stretched suddenly, fur receding and limbs stretching until it took the form of Garrett Scott. Naked and shivering, but alive.
Felix examined his nails nonchalantly as the group of professional looking individuals eyed him sternly. Mr. Kosan, the head Regent, opened a file full of post-it notes, emails and official incident reports and pulled one from the stack.
"Alexander 'Felix' Grey," he read aloud, "You've been summoned to this disciplinary conference because of you unauthorized and undocumented use of several dangerous artifacts, as well as two notable computer systems confiscated from the independent township of Eureka and it's supervising facility Global Dynamics."
He paused to glance at the defendant, who had decided that his nails were in good enough condition and had moved to picking some pork out of his teeth with an extended claw. Mr. Kosan frowned slightly, but continued. "You knowingly combined the effects of said artifacts, as well as connected them into said computer systems, with the express intent of reviving the deceased agent, one Garrett Graham, following his artifact-related suicide. Knowing that the results of this 'experiment' could have had disastrous and unpredictable effects, you chose to continue regardless. Do you acknowledge these charges?"
He placed the report on the table in front of him and cast a cold stare over at the smug face of the agent. Felix cupped a hand around his ear. "What was that, Mr. Kosan? Couldn't hear you properly on account of..." He leaned forward and knocked on the thick sheet of plexiglass seperating him from the rest of the room.
Kosan sighed. "Mr. Grey, you know we can't risk your...'talents' from influencing the outcome of this trial. These are serious offences and we must treat them as such. Now, do you acknowledge the charges?"
Felix scowled slightly and slumped back into his seat. "Yeah..." he muttered.
There were murmurs from some other members of the, admittedly rather small, crowd. "And what do you have to say in your defense?" Kosan inquired.
Felix simply shrugged. "It worked didn't it? He's alive and thriving. No side-effects or damage."
"He's a fox." Kosan replied, bluntly.
"But he's a living fox." Felix retorted.
"His temper is of some concern, though..." a female Regent, Tatianna Levesque, muttered, a mild frown on her face.
Another Regent, Felix recognized him as Trent Rockwell, the owner of the town of Eureka, interjected. "Mr. Grey, no one is denying what you've accomplished, and we appreciate the risks you're putting yourself through to play double agent here. But you must understand that we need to keep up appearances."
Kosan nodded. "Trevor is right. Through cunning, understanding and sheer dumb luck..."
"That's my name." quipped Felix, causing a few Regents to chuckle lightly.
Mr. Kosan continued as if he hadn't heard. "You have managed to accomplish something wonderful. You have given a second chance to an innocent boy and a talented agent, proven your skills at comprehending artifacts' natures, and earned the trust of an extremely secretive group of individuals. We have no wish to dismiss your accomplishment.
"However, if we wish for them to believe you've acted against orders, which, may I remind you, you technically have, we must insist on some manner of punishment."
He folded away the file and turned to the Regents directly behind him, who gave the slightest nods of affirmation. Kosan faced back towards Felix and picked up the gavel in front of him, holding it length ways in his hands so Felix could see it. "Do you know of this artifact, Mr. Grey?"
Felix studied it for a second. It wasn't as ornate as the one Matt was fond of using, that could have been messy in such close quarters. Nor was it the dark handled one from the Torture Room, thank god. Felix shook his head.
"When I bang Matthew Baillie Begbie's Gavel, whatever sentence has been chosen will be forced onto you. You will be physically unable to defy this judgement, no matter how much you resist. Do you understand the implications here?"
Felix's faced paled slightly, but he nodded.
"Then Mr. Alexander Grey, I sentence you to 30 days house arrest. You will be banned from any parts of the Warehouse besides the main office and your own quarters, with the only means to transport between the two being the zipline. You are also forbidden for using any artifacts intentionally, apart from the one required for your survival." He banged the gavel with a air of finality. There was a violent flash of light, and Felix felt all of his muscles tense momentarily before relaxing.
"Please don't think too harshly of us, Mr. Grey." Mr. Kosan said, not unsympathetically. "When your sentence is over we fully expect you to continue with your studies. You are, without a doubt, the most important asset we have at present. You are free to leave."
Felix, still reeling slightly, rose from his seat and made his way to the door. Down a flight of stairs, through the lobby and into the street, where a man in a suit waited by a black car to return him to the Warehouse. One phrase kept floating around Felix's head. "Most important". He'd never thought of himself as important before. Yes, he had been punished. Rather severely. And what was going to come, sooner or later, would be hard for everyone he cared about. But at the moment, he was needed, wanted and valued. And that was an amazing sensation he'd not felt in a very long time.
Garrett walked down the various aisles of the Warehouse, humming "Slipping" from Dr. Horrible to himself, pausing at times when he forgot the tune. He just passed the Urban Myth Section when he heard a distinct *whooshing* sound. Looking back, he saw a coal black wave of mist waft out of the section's entrance.
Running back, he saw something that he wished he could forget: The Russian Gas Tank. Used in the Russian Sleep Experiment, the victims seemed possessed by an entity that would instantly cause death for whoever slept. It was opened. "How the fric--" He stopped when he saw something move through the fog. Squinting, he just made out the outline of a thin black line, which without warning shout towards him. Slamming him in the stomach, he was thrown back several feet. It was a long black tentacle, no doubt its origin belonged to the Slender Suit.
"Aw, c'mon!" Garrett shouted. He rolled to his side as the tentacle struck again, and it instead knocked a shellf, causing a vial of sand from the "Singing Sand" mountain to fall to the ground and break; the resulting thunderous boom nearly deafened him.
Pulling out his Farnsworth, Garrett tuned in to an operational frequency and contacted Artie. But just as his face appeared, before he could grumble about what-is-going-on-now-and-can-it-affect-my-luxurious-eyebrows, the tentacle returned and flung it across the aisle.
"Slendy, really? The least you could let me do is," He got to his feet. "let me call somebody! Do you know how much that thing's worth?" Garrett ran towards the black mist that filled the section and grabbed the emergency flashlight. Flicking it on, he pointed it in all directions, instantly disperssing the blanket of coal clouds. Pointing it at the last fog bank, he covered his nose with one hand, put the flashlight in his mouth, and used he other hand to turn the valve on the gas tank, but it was stuck. He'd need both hands to turn it, but he couldn't risk breathing in the fumes. Yelling, he turned around and ran towards the Slender Suit, still on its mannequin, sporting tentacles and a forming faceless head. Garrett reminded himself to tell the others to make the mannequin out of neutralizer fibers next time, lest the mannequin become Slenderman.
He pointed his flashlight at the face, momentarily destroying the construct, and knocked the display over. Shocked, it retracted its tentacles. With the time he bought, he grabbed the Armani suit and put it on. Now with new appendages, he could aim the flashlight at the tank (scary things, be they objects, apparitions, or other, are able to be stunned by light and, of course, hiding it or yourself under covers. Whether this is substantial for actual artifacts, though, is uncertain), and use his tentacles to shut off the valve, cutting off and destroying the steady stream of gas.
Sighing, he laughed a little and pulled off the suit, grabbed a neutralizer hose and drenched the suit and mannequin, mentally kicking himself, sure that he would have to clean it himself.
Despite the apparent fear he felt he would feel sooner or later in hindsight, he felt right. He felt that he could handle Slendy, maybe even be the only one who could. He made a plan to call his parents later, telling them that it would take a little longer to get his scholarship than expected.
The First Time
(It had been a month since Garrett's death. Felix, who still had Garrett's bracelet, thought it would be worth a try using the bracelet on the Round Table to add a memory to the vault. Taking the bracelet from his pocket, he placed it on the center of the table, which projected various images of memories from Garrett's past, until it settled on one it apparently thought would fit).
"Welcome to Warehouse 13, kid." Artie waved his hand in front of him, gesturing toward the seemingly infinite expanse of the Warehouse.
Garrett was speechless. He had never seen anything so... big. So important. He had always felt like he was destined to do something greater than himself. Who knew he'd do it at 13?
"You are the youngest Warehouse agent in history. Consider yourself extremely lucky." Artie pushed his glasses up. "Follow me, and I'll show you the basics."
"And this," Artie pointed, "is the Warehouse Workshop."
"Do you, like, create tools and stuff to use on missions?" Garrett asked.
"Its more for testing artfact effects in a safe, controlled environment. I believe agent Felix may still be here. Well, technically he's a consultant, but he's practically an agent already."
Artie and Garrett walked up to the door of the workshop and knocked. Loud noises such as buzzing and crashes could be heard from within the office.
Immediately, a turret emerged from the ground and pointed at the two. Garrett hid behind Artie.
Garrett watched as a young adult man, with shaggy brown hair, yellow slit-pupil eyes, and slightly pointed ears emerged from the office and turned off the turret.
"Sorry about that, Artie. I was testing a few things. What's up?" the man asked in an accent that reminded Garrett of Australia.
"Felix," Artie said, "this is our new agent, Garrett Scott." Artie moved aside, showing the young boy with a very nervous exression on his face.
Felix looked understandably surprised by the recruit's age, but masked it well behind a smile. "Where is he, behind the runt?"
Felix ruffled Garrett's hair. He blushed and smiled a little, warming up to the attention.
"And before you ask, I'm from New Zealand, not Australia."
Felix held out his hand, which Garrett shook. He had a light grip. Must not have had a lot of experience with other people. Felix thought.
"Tell me," Felix began, "how did a kid like you get to work in a place like this?"
"Uhh, I, uh," Garrett looked down shyly, "I helped get Antoine Lavosier's Microscope." he muttered.
"Really?" Felix smirked. "Tyler and Aden told me there was a pretty smart kid who helped them collect the artifact." Garrett blushed again.
"Well, we've gotta get going. I have to explain the Dark Vault to him." Artie put his hand on Garrett's back and began to lead him away.
"Hope we get to work together soon, kid!" Felix called. Garrett smiled.
"There," Aden smiled, looking at the Round Table room. "Better tell the others, wouldn't wanna hog the first memory for myself."
As the God Tier turned around and left, a red fox with blue-gray eyes sneaked behind him, wagging his tail as it inspected the area. Seeing nobody else, the animal entered the vault and jumped onto a chair. After looking at the table thoughtfully for another few moments, it rose on his hind legs and rested a front paw on the table, watching clips of its life flash in the center before him.
Dark. Blinding. Freezing. Burning. Silent. Deafening. It was nothing, and everything, all at once. At least, that's what this state of existence felt like to Garrett. He was between life and death, within his own mind. The last thing he remembered was telling Felix to leave after he had attempted to revive him, not wanting to cause any more damage. Before that, he had remembered dying as Felix, Drake, and Carl watched in the Sparring Arena. But despite the simultaneous peace and pressure, being comatose in reality, Garrett wasn't completely unconscious. Nor was he alone.
"Just... give... UP!" Scott shouted, pulling on the chains around his wrists. "You can't-nngh-keep me down forever!"
"Yes, I can." Garrett replied, trying to keep his voice calm, cold, level. His sweat fell down his face, contorted in concentration, pain, and determination to keep himself and the... other thing down with him.
The red-headed teen surrounded by a pink aura, Garrett, pulled hard on his chains that bound his own arms, grunting with great effort, and watched as his counterpart Scott, surrounded by a bright green aura, fell to the ground and seemed to sink down to his knees in the floor made of wispy black smog.
"You don't deserve to be let out," the pink teen told him, "and after what we did... I certainly don't deserve it either. I'm not risking you escaping again."
Scott struggled to pull himself out, pulling taught on his bindings and shouting. "You of all people always give everyone second chances! What the hell's so different about me!?"
Garrett walked forward, the chains pulling Scott down further until only his torso remained above the dark surface. He reached the green teen and looked down. "Easy... you're me. And I don't deserve second chances for any of my mistakes. Ever."
Scowling, the malicious doppelganger's eyes took on an intense green glow as he pulled himself out, roaring with force, and pulled himself up. In turn, Garrett fell to the ground, and now only his chest and above were unsubmerged. "Heh," he chuckled, stepping down hard on Garrett's hand, "from past experience, Garrie, I guess that's true. It's funny," he knelt down and wrapped his hand tight around Garrett's neck, "as much as you try to distance yourself from my visage, we're really more and more alike, huh?"
Scott squeezed, making the other man choke before letting him go, and he wheezed and sputtered for the metaphorical air around them. "Y-you-ack!-you and I, are nothing alike!"
"Tell that to the Naga. To Carl. To Drake... To Felix." Scott countered. "We only liked them because of my impulses. Our impulses. And you can't tell me you didn't secretly enjoy being a snake snack. Or, hell, watching me with all those guys in that hotel room with that empathy vision of yours." He laughed coldly. "Ha! I could feel you watching, and I know you wanted to do the exact same thing with the othe-WOAH!"
Garrett tensed himself and, pushing himself up as his eyes blazed a hot pink, freed himself from the ground and rose into the air, until Scott fell back into the ground, only his face and forearms above ground. He gasped and sputtered, struggling for air through the fog.
Floating to the ground, the pink teen watched as Scott futilely struggled to get himself up again desperately. "I don't care how long we fight this fight, Scott. I am willing to hold you down and keep you prisoner in this crushing darkness forever, until the end of time, and even after that. And I have no qualms about being stuck here with you... at least keeping you in check gives me a purpose in this 'life'."
He knelt down, raising his eyebrows as he watched his double become silent and stone-faced. "I do admit, Scott, I honestly pity you. But even I cannot forgive you."
Snarling loudly, Scott latched his arm onto Garrett's wrist and pulled him centimeters from his face. "If, WHEN I get out of here, we're ending this with our hands intertwined, TOGETHER! And just remember, you and I will be the only ones for company, Garrie, 'forever'. Heh, not like Felix would ever want you anyway, after what we did to him, his friends, his family. He'd never want you back anyway! He only tried reviving you because he thought it was his fault, he wanted to make himself feel better, you never mattered!"
The two stopped suddenly as they noticed their world seemed to... glitch. The pressure, the pain, lifted for a few short seconds before returning. They felt their focus divert, and saw light, real light, through blurry and tired eyes.
"What...?" Garrett wondered aloud, unsure of what was happening, before he looked down at his hands and felt his chains slacken and slowly fade.
Scott gasped as he rose from the ground, still holding onto his copy's arm with a vice. "What... are you doing?"
The pink ginger shook his head, "I'm not doing anything, something's wrong."
Then, the two heard a door opening, and footsteps on carpet. They closed their eyes, and then his eyes opened. They were standing on fog, then he was lying on a mattress. They were in complete silence, then he heard him. And saw him.
"Garrett, a-are... are you awake?"
Slipping back to the dark void in their mind, Garrett looked quickly to Scott. "He-he did it... Felix brought us back! Why would he do that? We told him not to."
Looking down and letting his unkempt orange hair fall down his face, Scott let go of Garrett's arm and sat back on his legs. "He didn't bring us back. He brought you back. I don't matter."
The pink teen looked at Scott with surprising concern, his inherent desire to help starting to well up within him. "He would know you'd still be here, and... and he still took that risk. Scott, F-Felix cares about me... you, about us."
Scott looked up with an expression conveying a mix of contempt and confusion, but Garrett continued. "Felix wouldn't want us fighting, Scott. He would want us happy... rrgh," he pounded the ground in frustration. "Look, i'm not saying I forgive you for the shit you would have done, but... what if we had a-a truce, or something?"
"A truce?" Scott asked, "A fucking truce? Are you kidding me?!"
"I don't like it any more than you do, but for Felix, we have to do anything for him. He's what matters. Do you want him worried?" Garrett asked, spreading his arms as he stood up and pulled the green teen with him.
"Truce, now. You keep yourself quiet, stay hidden in the back. For Felix, we do anything, you understand?"
"Garrie, please wake up if you can hear me. I know you can do it, you're strong enough! Just... please, for me... wake up."
Scott growled for a moment before reluctantly grabbing Garrett's hand. "Fine! But don't for a second think I won't plan on getting free. Sooner or later, somehow, I will get out again, that's a promise you can take to the damn bank! And when I do..." he pulled Garrett close again, digging his nails into Garrett's wrist that, if he could bleed, would have drawn blood. "We're finishing this once and for all. Face. To. Face."
The two felt their minds slowly coalesce together, almost in complete unity, but with some distinction. As their vision inside the dark realm blurred, and the other world became a little clearer, Scott waded to the back of Garrett's consciousness, where he could do nothing serious.
And as they felt themselves become whole, become Garrett Scott, they whispered something to each other, the only thing they could agree on. The only thing that kept them together, that kept them from fighting.
He opened his eyes, squinting them shut almost immediately as he was bombarded with light. He tried to cover his eyes with his hand, but he felt so utterly exhausted, as if he had run twelve marathons with his whole body, that he could barely lift a finger.
"Garrett... Garebear? Are you awake?"
Look at this Photograph
Garrett walked past a rack of bicycles from various decades and around a shelf of helmets on hooks, carrying a large green bottle with his hand firmly over its cork. He had gotten back form a successful solo snag, the first he had went on since his revival, and was now shelving Dan Gurney's Moët & Chandon Bottle, the very one that began the long standing tradition of uncorking alcohol at races and drenching people with its contents. Thankfully, the mission was relatively uneventful save for a raccoon outside that gave him a weird look, and the duplicate bottle was placed in the glass case without a hitch.
As he neared the shelf the bottle would soon be calling home, one of the motorbikes he passed revved its engine loudly, scaring Garrett and causing him to toss the bottle in the air. As the bottle began its downward descent, he lept forward and caught it before landing on his stomach with a loud grunt, the wind knocked out of him and his skull jerking slightly from the impact. Garrett blew some hair out from in front of his eyes and glared angrily at P. J. Gallagher's Motorbike, who's revving sounded like raucous laughter. He got up to his feet and stuck his tongue out at the offending vehicle; if the bike was going to be immature, then so was he.
In his hands the bottle began to shake, abruptly ending his anger.
"Huh? Oh, no no nonono!" He hurried to the shelf and set the bottle up, struggling to keep it from toppling over. "Please don't, please do-" He pleaded before the bottle promptly fell over and blew its cork off, barely missing his face.
From the bottle's mouth gushed off-white, foaming wine that completely soaked Garrett's front, who kept his eyes closed and tried to cover the bottle's mouth with his hands to no avail. Eventually the small geyser slowed to a trickle, then a drip, until finally the bottle was empty. Garrett opened his eyes and slumped in annoyance, his face deadpanning. He was about to take off his glasses to try and clean them with the dry cloth he kept in his back pocket when he noticed that they were, in fact, still dry. Not a single drop of wine got higher than his chin.
"Huh. That was lucky.."
He looked around for the cork and found it on the floor near the front tire of Gallagher's Bike. He picked the cork up and gave the bike a well deserved kick to the front tire. He tugged down his shirt to straighten it out with a haughty humph, then returned to the shelf to cork the bottle and set it back up with a sigh. He stared down at his drenched clothes and lamented that he was going to have to shower so late at night and likely wouldn't get the smell of alcohol off his skin for the next several days. Felix was already asleep, and he might end up waking him up. Great.
Garrett closed the door to the bathroom as quietly as he could, turned on the shower, and stripped. He smelt strongly of wine, which although wasn't unpleasant, would be a sure sign of an artifact mishap that Artie would no doubt notice. Not to mention he might still wake up sticky even after a shower.
He stepped into the shower, momentarily forgetting he hadn't waited for the water to heat up, and flinched in reflex for what he expected to be very, very cold water. Instead, the water was already the perfect temperature between warm and hot.
Now relaxed, he smiled and settled into the warm stream, closing his eyes until he felt two hands wrap around his waist. He let out a noise of surprise and turned his head to see Felix behind him, smiling.
"Felix?" Garrett asked. "I thought you'd be asleep by now?"
"I was just about to, but I just couldn't fall asleep, dunno why." He kissed the back of Garrett's neck. "You smell like you've been drinking, young man." He pulled the redhead close, "Have you been doing illegal things without inviting me?"
"Am I in trouble?" Garrett asked with a smile, face reddening.
Felix ran an extended claw over his partner's thigh. "You're about to be."
The next day, Artie made a vague announcement to every Warehouse personnel to meet in front of the Warehouse that afternoon, and to "dress in a way that best reflects you. Within reason. That means no pirate costume for Pete, and no assless chaps for Tyler, please. Mrs. Frederic will be there."
As they lived in the Warehouse, Garrett, Felix, and Artie were the first to stand in front of the monolithic structure they called home. One by one everyone else arrived - Pete in a wrestling shirt and a number 6 pin; Claudia in a purple top and a vest decorated with various pins of her own taste and a purple streak in her hair; everyone from field agents to H.A.R.P. had chosen an outfit that practically screamed their names.
Garrett had had trouble picking his outfit - he was used to dressing simply and nondescript, rarely ever going clothes shopping for fear of being literally bored to death. Finding nothing good in his closet, he decided to use a familiar curtain and thought of something that defined him. When the curtain fell, he was decked out in jeans and an orange t-shirt that featured two foxes chasing each other in a circle, muzzle to tail. One was black with a white tail tip, the other white with a black tail tip. A little too on the nose, perhaps, and maybe not indicative of his personality like the others' outfits, but it would do. Simple, but individual.
While the gathering waited for the last of the people to arrive (according to Artie, Hugo, Vanessa, and even Helena had been invited; "For old times' sake," Artie had said. Myka was ecstatic when she stepped out of her car, and they began chatting up a storm as they caught up), Megan and Steve helped Artie bring out a grill belonging to one Don McGlaughlin (guaranteed to cook meats to perfection for summer outings), Claudia and Nikki were showing off an original duet they had been working on while Claire did vocals with Joshua following clumsily along, and Abigail was telling Bri and Tyler that she was experienced in couples' therapy should the need ever arise.
Pete and Felix were a few yards away playing three-way Frisbee with Garrett in the middle, chasing after the flying disk left and right, left and right in a desperate attempt to catch the oh so alluring object in his mouth. It took a minute before he remembered he was still in human form, after which he removed Goodall's watch with a look of embarrassment.
When Pete got the Frisbee, he moved his arm back and forth as if he were lining up a shot, much like a golfer does with his club before hitting the ball. With a grunt, he swung his arm forward and sent the disk flying down the sandy road that led to and from the Warehouse. Like a bullet, Garrett shot after it on all fours, tail swishing freely behind him as he bounded over the trail. He recalled the feeling he get while running through the biodome in Eureka, how free and excited he felt. Only this time without fear of himself or others being devoured by dinosaurs. The wind over his fur, his mouth open in panting excitement, paws carrying him faster than his two legs ever could. With a momentum charged jump, he leaped into the air and turned his head, catching the Frisbee in his mouth and landing back on all fours. He pranced around in a circle triumphantly as the others back at the Warehouse cheered and raised their arms to the air.
That was happiness.
He hurried back to the group, the scent of cooking burgers and hot dogs growing stronger again as he neared the source of the aromatic smoke, and handed the Frisbee back to Felix as he and Pete happily scratched his head before his watch was refastened around his wrist and he was back to his old self.
"Alright everyone," called out Mrs. Frederic's voice as she appeared, miraculously while nobody was looking. "I know Arthur has not yet told you why you were all called here, as he wished to make this a little surprise. It is time to take a picture of the current Warehouse staff. We typically do this every decade or so as new agents come and go, and now, I believe, is the opportune time."
The gathering of employees stared in minor confusion, not seeing a camera in Mrs. Frederic's hands, for several moments.
"Oh, yeah, right!" Artie said in realization as he quickly got up and picked his trusty bag off the ground. He walked over to Mrs. Frederic's side and opened the bag up and placed it back on the ground. With both hands, he reached into it, and began to pull out a digital camera. Mounted onto a tripod a few feet high. Several heads in the group jerked back in surprise, unused to seeing such a large object come out of even Artie's magic bag.
Artie squinted his eyes as he looked through the camera's digital screen, lining up the shot so that a good portion of the Warehouse's facade was visible. "Alright everyone, get together! We've got a big staff this year, gotta be sure we get everyone!"
As everyone grouped together shoulder to shoulder, Garrett, being a little shorter than most of the others, made his way closer to the front of the group. Artie pressed a button on the camera and hurried over to join the others before the timer ran out. Mrs. Frederic instead calmly walked over as Artie urged everyone to get ready. She turned around upon reaching the front of the gang and smiled, hands clasped calmly in front of her just as the flash went off.
Some time later, after the sun had begun the set and the gang stayed relaxed as they all began recounting various stories and jokes from the past year, Garrett head inside to the office to cool down a little. He noticed the door leading to the balcony was open, and went out. He crossed his arms and leaned over the balcony, looking over the vast expanse of the Warehouse. Pun half intended, he would have called it literally endless. In so many different ways, it was.
He had looked out from the balcony quite a few times, both in times of peace and calamity. Each time, though he may not have paid much mind to it, he still couldn't quite get over what he saw. If he stared long enough, he could always find a new area he had yet to explore, or a new issue that had to be fixed. If he stared long enough, he would find his eyes watering without noticing until he was dabbing at his eyes. Sometimes, he would just let the tears go down his cheek and land on the floor several feet below. It had its ups and downs, sure. He definitely knew the downs as well as anyone else these days. But, still, this sure was happiness...
With a short sigh, he headed back into the office, ready to go back outside and join in the festivities again. Perhaps Artie was recounting one of his stories that always managed to surprise and impress his fellow colleagues. But, as he passed Artie's desk, he noticed something out of the ordinary. He turned to look at it, and noticed it was a new picture frame angled directly at the chair. Garrett picked it up, intrigued, and saw that it was in fact the picture they had just taken a few short hours before.
'That was fast.' He thought to himself, grazing his thumb over the frame. He recalled seeing an old black and white photograph of Mrs. Frederic standing in front of five agents in suits when he first arrived at the Warehouse. Besides Mrs. Frederic, only one of them was smiling, and it looked a bit like Artie, though he could have been mistaken. Here though, Garrett counted 32 people in the photograph, at least, not counting Trailer, Shodi, or Pete the ferret. It sure was a large family. Definitely better than the four people he grew up with, that's for sure.
He ran a hand over each smiling face in the crowd, fondly remembering the memories he shared with each one. And although this photograph was new, although the picture frame was no artifact and was just a simple little object, although the faces, each one smiling brighter than the sun, were confined to colored paper, he felt something. Something strong.
"This is happiness."
Case File 1988-54 aka The Grim Sleeper
After Jake Torres took down The Negligee Killer along with his partner Jennifer Lockhart he got some major press. The serial killed had strangled four women, redressing them in negligees, before the pair got a partial DNA sample and tracked Joseph Alonzo Baker down at the Bar he worked at and arrested him. The Los Angeles sheriff's department asked his boss if they could borrow Torres to take a look at the case. Lockhart declined but Torres took the paid vacation to give the detectives his thoughts on the case listed as the Grim Sleeper. Luckily, when he arrived, there wasn't a body but a survivor. All Ms. Washington could say was that she had been sleeping with a man in black entered her home. After he fled she checked all the doors and windows, everything was locked and nothing looked broken to get in. When asked to tell any more detail Ms. Washington shut down refusing to talk to anyone. While looking into the old case files, the crime scene pictures and the backgrounds of the other victims Jacob met the lead on the case, Detective Larry Broomfield. Looking through the pictures of all the houses Jake held one up.
“How exactly did this guy get into any of the houses?”
“No idea, the working theory is that the person, we believe man but with Ms. Washington being unhelpful we cant confirm, works as a locksmith, maybe the security business. We've looked into all of the victims and a few share the same security company but they weren't around in 86 when the second victim was found.”
“So the name is due to this period of inactivity? He stopped in, what was it, 1988? How do you even know it's the same guy?”
“We don't, except his method into the home is the same as the other times, luckily Ms. Washington survived.” Jake nodded, and sighed but before they could discuss more there was chatter over the radio. Detective Broomfield answered and heaved a sigh.
“Struck again, there's a body in Inglewood who appeared to have been killer in her sleep, however no sign of breaking in and no one heard the gunshot.” Heading out they arrived at the crimes scene as the crime scene investigators were wrapping up.
“Same MO as before,” the lead tech said before heading out. The body was untouched as the Medical Examiner was studying the body.
“Shot in the head, casing left behind has no prints but it's a from a .25 caliber gun, like the others.” Unfortunately after looking over everything Jake was just as stumped as the others and flew back to San Francisco. Keeping up with the case he kept in touch with Broomfield even after being invited into the Warehouse. Finally it came to him that the mysterious way of the killer entering and leaving the homes were artifact related. Before he could return to the Los Angeles station to look over the photos again he was sent on assignment to South America and was taken away by the Mayan Calendar.
Ten years later when he had escaped and saved Jennifer Jake was sitting in his room at the Bed and Breakfast looking things up online. It seemed that the sheriff department had recovered a familial DNA analysis that pointed to Lonnie David Franklin Jr. being the Grim Sleeper. Franklin was arrested and confessed to the murders however when asked how he broke in he had no answer, at least that's what the official report said. The papers state that he convinced the victims to return to his house so he could kill them there and dump them later.
Arriving back at the sheriff's office he was pleasantly surprised to see that Detective Broomfield was still there and was one of the arresting officers. After a hug and a compliment on how long he looked Jake learned first hand about the discovery and arrest. Franklin was on Death Row for killing eleven people. Looking over the crime scene photos of Franklin's house Jake went into the evidence locker and discovered one of Franklin's possessions, a Horseshoe that vibrated in his hands. Placing it into a goo baggie there were sparks as it neutralized the artifact. Luckily he found it as if it remained here evidently a cop or whoever was effected by it might kill someone else. Returning to the Warehouse Jake showed the artifact to Artie who declared it to be of Welsh ancestry belonging to Ankou their god of death. It would arrive at a home in a horse drawn carriage at night and take the souls of the dying to the afterlife.
Trapped in the Mayan Calendar
“I heard Jake refused to tell about his time in there,” Jennifer Lockhart, former agent, said as she followed Artie towards the Memini Chamber. The older man confirmed and Jennifer understood that he wasn't quite ready to face what happened but she could. Thanking Artie she sat at the Round Table alone not thinking about anything just let as she inhaled and slowly let out her breath. “Okay Jennifer you can do this.”
The day started like most days, Jennifer woke up in her bedroom at the Bed and Breakfast. Stretching out she kicked off the covers and dressed in her workout clothes. Every morning she would get up at six and go for a two mile run. Ever since the police academy days it was how she would start her morning, get herself charged up for a day of artifact hunting. Returning she showered and got dressed in her usual business casual, even though she had been taken by the Mayan Calendar in 2006 her calendar in here read 6/3/2004. At breakfast she sat munching on some toast while Artie explained that people were vanishing in Alliance, Nebraska but the people in the city didn't notice. Someone's visiting Aunt realized that her Niece was there one night then gone the next morning. The neighbors didn't remember anyone living there though. Handing the folder over to her partner and best friend Jake she smiled at him as he flipped the folder open.
“Could be a memory artifact, maybe R.B.'s drinking glass, causes people to forget the drinker. Oh or Sergei Korsakoff's Ruble, flipping it changes the outcome. Heads and you're gone, tails and they remember you again.” Closing the folders Artie waved them off and they flew to Nebraska to interview the people of the town. A man who had a wife one day then became a widow the next was complaining outside his house with a delivery man as the agents were scouting the neighborhood.
“I didn't order a pink music box,” he complained.
“Says right here, Mrs. Johnson ordered it to be delivered here.”
“I'm Mr. Johnson but I have no wife so you're mistaken.”
Later both agents spoke with Mr. Johnson who informed them that his wife was dead or gone or something. When asked how he knew he even had a wife Mr. Johnson showed them his son's room. A promising object in the room was a coin collection and when Jennifer asked about it he saw no harm in showing it. However as Jennifer looked at the coins inside Jake tripped into her and the case went to the floor. The coins went everywhere but Jennifer's eyes widened seeing the ruble spinning on the floor before landing heads up. There was a jolt through Jennifer and suddenly Jake and Mr. Johnson were gone, Mrs. Johnson however was now visible to her but still crying. When Jennifer asked what was going on Mrs. Johnson had no idea, just that her husband and son couldn't see, hear or remember her anymore and wherever they were, they were trapped.
Suddenly Jennifer sat bolt upright in her bed at the beeping alarm clock, six in the morning in Univille. Shaking the nightmare off she went to get dressed for her run, the date on the calendar read 6/3/2004 and the day started all over again.
Things started to change eventually as Jake made his way to her. The date started to move on until July came around and out of the corner of her eye she could swear she saw George Melie's Mechanical Fairy fluttering around. Eventually Jake got into her repeat world and with the help of her fairy they broke free.
Opening her eyes Jennifer sighed, she had no idea the loop that Jake had been in when inside the calendar but that was hers saved for all time. Running her fingers across the table she wondered if they would let her come back next year but probably not, she wasn't officially an agent anymore. They invited Jake back and even extended it to her but she declined. Working in Univille she was close enough to her friends and with her memory intact she could always come back and help whenever. Artie came and walked her out, hugging the older man she went to her car and drove home.
Joe with his Tesla in hand jumped out of the way of a blast of energy that flew with tremendous speed. He rolled onto the dusty ground that covered Tombstone, Arizona and quickly got back up.
"NICE DODGE, KID!" Screamed Pete from across him.
Pete, Myka and Joe were in Tombstone investigating a sudden army of cyborgs controlled by a madman with a remote control. The Borgs had futuristic guns that blasted blueish energy everywhere, disintegrating everything it touched.
"We gotta get that Cornerstone!" yelled Myka Tesla-ing a Borg with no luck of slowing it down.
"You distract them! I'll snag the Cornerstone!" Jow yelled back.
In front of Joe lay a giant thick glowing dome made out of energy covering the main street of the OK Corral. Without hesitation, he jumped forward into the energy dome which quickly engulfed his whole body. Joe got up and quickly dusted himself off, looking up at the amazing futuristic version of the town of Tombstone created by the artifact, Edward Bellamy's Cornerstone. It was almost breathtaking.
Gathering himself up, the rookie ran into the OK Corral and came face to face with three Borgs. With his fast pace and quick motion he quickly bypassed them. Without them knowing what hit them, Joe Tesla'd the Borg's battery packs on their backs and turned over to the glowing cornerstone that was jutting out of the wall.
Joe smiled as he unraveled a static bag and put on a pair of gloves. He gave a great big tug as the cornerstone started to ease out from the wall and with a big heave he had it in his hands. He quickly threw the cornerstone in the bag as it fizzled and crackled. The futuristic version of Tombstone quickly reverted back to it's old dusty self, along with the Borgs and their guns.
Stepping out of the Corral, Joe had a strange blank face on him, like he had just discovered something. Pete and Myka came up to congratulate him on the snag with the perp in handcuffs.
"Hey! Rookie! Nice snagging skills! You are a natur-"
Joe didn't even look up at Pete congratulating him, he just stared at the bag with the cornerstone inside with the blank face he had on.
"Kid, you ok?" said Pete grabbing his attention.
"Huh?" stammered Joe "Yeah, I'm fine".
"Are you sure?" asked Myka.
"Yeah, It's just..." said Joe, "I've done nothing but steal, for most of my life. But now, I'm a hero, not a thief. For the first time in my life...I have done something for others. And it...feels right..."
It's not your fault...
Juan looked over at Aden, who had explained to him how the table worked.
Juan walked along one of the aisles in the stacks. A frown was on the Latino's face as he looked at an old photo in his hand. It showed a much younger Juan and another boy, laughing and covered with mud. "Oh, Morty... I'm so sorry..." he muttered, a tear dropping from his face. Nearby, an old wallet dropped from the shelves.
"Huh?" Carefully, the time demigod picked it up.
"... I forgive you..." a child's voice echoed. Startled, Juan dropped the artifact and whipped around. Standing in the aisle was a young blond child with bright blue splotches of a bad dye job in his hair. The boy's clothes where slightly torn, and he was covered in snake bites.
"M-Morty?" Juan dropped to his knees. "No, no... no es posible..."
In response, the boy, Morty, moved forward and hugged Juan. "What happened to me, was my fault, Juanito..." he whispered. "I was the one who wanted to play by that pit."
"But I froze, I- I could've gotten help!"
"Even if you did, I'd be dead either way, and if you'd come down to get me so would you!"
"You listen to me, Horado." Morty grabbed Juan's shoulders and looked him in the eyes. "You've hurt yourself so much over this..." here Morty ran a hand over the old suction-cup marks running along Juan's arm. "I don't like seeing you in pain. You're my best friend, and I don't hate you. I'm glad the last thing I saw was you. It wasn't your fault, and I forgive you." Morty smiled, and faded, leaving Juan alone.
"Thank you, Morty." Juan said simply, picking up Houdini's wallet once more and returning it to its shelf, before leaving the aisle with a faint smile on his face.
Ninja Say, Ninja Do
Matt kicked back in his lawn chair as he tossed another paper airplane from the roof of the penthouse, "He's not going to show."
Nikki rolled her eyes as she started pulling out items from an ancient-looking chest, "You said that last time, and that military contractor almost got skewered. He's luck I'm a crack shot with the Sabine."
Matt and Nikki had been tasked to Prauge to investigate ninja attacks on military arms dealers. Each time, a mysterious man would break in, disable security, send the guards into fear, and kill his target. Last time, Nikki had barely managed to get to the ninja before they wound up with shish kabob, but this time she was ready for tall, dark, and stealth.
"Matt, loose the jacket." Nikki said as she pulled a mass of black cloth from chest.
Matt sat up and looked at her, "Really Nikki? I'm flattered, but I think HARP can only stand one couple at a-"
She tossed the cloth to him, "As if. If you want to take that ninja head-on, brute force will do you no good." She stood up and gestured to the box, "The Yoroi Bitsu prop from the film Ninja. In the film, it contained the gear of the last Koga Ninja, and the protagonist uses it to defeat a techy ninja. You my partner, get to take up the role of the Koga ninja since the prop is imbued with the skills of the ninja."
Matt looked at the outfit he held, "Okay...just don't peek while I change."
a few minutes later...
Matt snuck around the penthouse of the supposed last target. On his back was the katana, at his waist was a kusari-gama, and he had several throwing stars ready to go. Matt had no idea how he knew what they were, but he did know that the artifact was increasing his instincts.
As Matt slipped under a wall scone, a stake came out of nowhere and shattered the light above his head. As it clattered to the ground, Matt followed where it came from to see another ninja standing out on the balcony, with a smaller dart in hand. As he threw it, Matt matched him with several of his own shruiken, causing the projecties to clatter to the floor.
Turns the user into a ninja, but robs them of their ability to talk... Matt picked up the artifact's ability as he drew his katana as the other ninja did the same, but as Matt charged him, a cloud of smoke appeared. Popping out the other side, Matt found that his target had vanished.
'The hell....' Matt thought as he cautiously entered back in, carefull to keep to the walls. As he entered the dining room, he was suddenly ambushed with a chain wrapping around his neck from behind. Matt's free hand grabbed a Kusari-gama and swung the chain backwards, striking the person holding the chain since the one around his neck loosened, allowing Matt to pull him close.
As Matt pulled his blade up, the blade of the other ninja met his. For a second, Matt stared into the eyes of his foe and saw the determination in his eyes...or was it madness? Either way, Matt ducked as the blade was swung at him. Using the position to his advatage, he recoiled up and flipped onto the dining room table. The other ninja followed him up as the two began to trade swings and slashes as the moved across the table.
As the reached the end of the table, the lights suddenly flicked on, catching the attention of both ninjas. Looking at the doorway, they both saw a middle-aged pudgy man in a bathrobe with Nikki at his side.
"See, I told you we weren't crazy. The one on the left was trying to kill you; the one on the right is trying to save you." Nikki smiled at Matt and nodded.
Seeing the oppritunity, Matt socked the ninja with a clean uppercut, sending him back the length of the table, "Rule number one grasshopper, never let your guard down."
"Wow...the Marked Ninja's Robes..." Tyler whistled as Matt stashed the robes, "If I had known that it was from 'Mark of the Ninja', I would've brought the Yoroi personally."
"Yeah, but it's not like in Ninja where the whole apartment was destroyed. We just had to pay for a few small damages that the other guy caused." Matt shrugged.
As the two exited the Pong Sector, Tyler gave Matt a smile, "I know that ninja's aren't exactly your cup of tea when it comes to being powerful, but ninjas were a driving force in Japan."
Matt held up a hand, "I thought so too, but after wearing the outfit and feeling the power in me, I guess that I found out that there's violence in silence."
Tyler stopped and looked at him, "Matt Sordens, are we turning over a new leaf? A more stealthy, smart leaf?"
Matt laughed hard as he grabbed a nearby shelf for support, "You wish. I'll take my gavel, gloves, and jacket any day over being a sneaky ninja."
Matt sighed as he collapsed on the couch, "I already told you Abi, I don't need this session."
"Everyone is getting a session after what happened with Garret." Abigail replied, flipping over a new page in her notepad, "After you I have Bri, Tyler, and Juan to sort out that mess. That's already going to be difficult enough without you resisting."
"Fine." Matt put his hands behind the head, "But I've already moved on from it all. I'm not feeling any prolonged sense of loss or anything."
Abigail took a deep breath, "Actually, that's the reason I called you in. You've become anti-social."
Matt looks at her out of the corner of his eye, "I beg you pardon?"
"In the last year, I've noticed you not interacting with any of the Warehouse staff outside of H.A.R.P. Additionally, you've refrained from going on any Pings with any non-H.A.R.P. members."
Matt sat up a bit, "I am too social! I come to dinner whenever we eat all eat together."
Abigail countered, "Yes, but you also sit with your colleges, don't contribute to the conversation, and leave afterwards." keeping her steam, she pressed on, "Also, you didn't on vacation with others."
"And I'm happy I didn't!" Matt shot back, "Someone had to keep the Warehouse under control while they got to play out a soap opera."
"Matt," Abigail leaned forward, "You haven't even had a girlfriend in the five years you've been at the Warehouse. I don't even know your preference. You need to get out more. For that reason, I'm going to reccommend to Mrs. Frederic that you be re-assigned to the agent's roster."
Matt's eyes shot open, "What? I've been with H.A.R.P. for-"
"-And that you should be in charge of training the new Elements. Garret was the only one who really knew how they worked, and with him gone, someone needs to train them." Abigail said cutting him off, "It'll do you good, trust me."
Matt sighed and started to stand up, "I guess I see your point..." As he started out, Abigail caught him
"One more thing, I'm reccomending that you go out with Felix."
The former H.A.R.P. Consultant's head whipped around, "What? Like on a date?"
Abigail shook her head, "I didn't say that, just go out and have a good time with him. He's still getting over the loss of Garret and could use a friend. Normally I think he'd go to Tyler, but with the fiasco I have to deal with in my next session, I can see why he's putting some space there." Seeing reluctance in his eyes, she pushed, "Do it for him if anything. He needs a friend now more than ever."
Matt sighed, sometimes it was hard to argue with Abi's logic. She was right, he had been a loner in comparison to his friends and as for Felix, he was sure that the feline agent knew how to have a good time.
"Thanks Abi. I...I guess I really did need this."
Welcome to Warehouse 13
Megan had just returned to her hotel room from a convention in Pittsburgh. She was very happy, for she found some rare objects that she had been scouring the conventions for for years, including a mint-condition Mew card with strange hieroglyphs in place of normal text. As she placed her bags near her bed, she felt a strange presence. She turned around to see a woman standing right at the doorway. She was rather intimidating, with her brown hair wrapped up on top of her head and fierce eyes staring at her intently through glasses.
"How did you get in here?" Megan asked. "No, forget that. Who are you, and why are you in here?"
"Ms. Wilcoxson, I am with the government," the woman said. Her voice sounded like stone, cold and unmoving. "I have been watching you for some time. You have particular skills which interest me . . . and my partners."
Megan felt disturbed by that. The government? Watching her? For particular skills? "Listen, Ms. . . . ."
"Frederic. Mrs. Frederic."
"Mrs. Frederic. I find it very creepy that the government has been spying on me for who-knows how long, first off. Second, what skills could possibly interest you? Last I checked, I have nothing worth anything."
"Do you truly believe that to be the case? I would not be here if there was nothing."
"What on earth are you talking about?! Seriously, Mrs. Frederic, I don't know who it is with the government that you work for, but you clearly have the wrong person. I'm just an ordinary post-school student going to college!"
"Not quite, seeing as you dropped out of college three weeks ago and have been struggling to find a job that doesn't bore you and gives you a feeling of fulfillment. A place where you can never feel bored, something you've struggled with for two years."
"........." Megan tried to say something to the amazingly accurate information being spouted, but she couldn't think. It was almost as if this was a dream...
"I assure you, you are not dreaming, Ms. Wilcoxson. I am here to offer you a job. You certainly don't have to take it, should you not want it."
"But...how do you know that I won't get bored and leave it in a couple of months?"
"I assure you, in this world of endless wonder, it is impossible to get bored. On the table is an address. If you want the job, you have two days to go to this address. If not, then you can continue with your life, trying to find your purpose."
Megan turned to the table and saw a small paper with only an address written on it. She picked it up and looked at it. South Dakota? What on earth was in South Dakota? What, was she going to a secret space headquarters inside Mount Rushmore?
"Mrs. Frederic, can't you just tell me what-"
Turning back around, the strange woman was gone, vanished without a trace. She shivered slightly, unsure of what she had just experienced. And yet, the address remained on the table when she woke up in the morning. As nervous as she felt, she couldn't help but feel a slight curiosity. Perhaps against her better judgement, she decided to set out towards the address.
Two days later, Megan was on her way to South Dakota, with absolutely no idea what was going on. Things seemed even stranger when her GPS took her off the main road and through a field, but she kept going. Soon, she could see a giant building in the side of the mountain. She drove up to it, parked and stepped out of the car.
"What on earth is this place?" she asked herself, craning her neck to take in the size of the place. It was quite tall, and the door looked so large that she wondered what exactly was being stored in here that would require a door the size of a skyscraper! ...Okay, so maybe that was an exaggeration, but it was definitely huge. A smaller, proper-sized door was off to one side.
"Helloooooo! Anyone here?" she called out. Shouldn't someone come out to greet her? Or was she supposed to go in on her own?
She walked up to the door, but she wasn't sure whether or not she should knock. This just seemed so weird. After several minutes of debating, she had decided she would knock on the door. But before she could, a voice called out to her from behind, startling her.
"Oh, hello!" The man was large, though not so much in height as gut. He was wearing a straw hat and glasses with a weird wand thing in his hand. "Sorry to keep you waiting. I was just checking the FISH."
Megan looked around. A fish, out here? This place looked completely deserted, but maybe there was a lake nearby with fish?
"My name is Arthur Neilson, but please call me Artie. And you must be Megan Wilcoxson, correct? Glad to have you on the team."
"What team, what is this place?" Megan asked. "It looks like a warehouse or something."
"Well, you are very smart, aren't you? You should get along great with Myka." Artie walked up to the door and opened it. "Come in, come in. I made cookies. No peanuts, just for you."
After hearing from Mrs. Frederic how much this government branch seemed to know about her past, Megan wasn't going to ask how he knew about her allergies. But on the flipside, this man seemed nice, so maybe it wouldn't be terrible to work here. And he made her cookies! Then again, a giant warehouse didn't seem particularly exciting...
She followed quietly, her nerves kicking in a little. New people made her kinda quiet until she got to know them more, but she reminded herself that this man was at least a co-worker, possibly a boss alongside this Myka person. She needed to make sure to be respectful regardless.
As they walked through a white corridor with thin pillars, Artie got to the end and put his eye up to a sensor. "By the way, don't touch the bombs."
"Bombs?!" Megan said, suddenly very concerned. "What are you keeping here, aliens? Bigfoot?"
"Oh, please," Artie said as they walked into his office. "Most alien sightings are simply people who can't tell the difference between a plane and a meteor, and Bigfoot is just a person who isn't able to be cured from an encounter in the 1200s and has survived to the present. He keeps himself hidden, though, and he has family now, so we don't bother to pay attention to the reports. Now, would you rather have milk or juice person?"
"Ummm..." she said, stunned by the casualness of what he had just dropped that bombshell. "If it's cookies, then milk. 2%, if you have it?"
As Artie went to pour the milk, Megan looked around. There was a window, but the blinds were closed. Several computer screens ran images, one of which looked like a map performing a scan. The office was kinda...rustic-looking? Was that the right word? It looked old-fashioned, with old stuff all over the place.
"Here you go," Artie said, handing her a glass of milk and a cookie. Megan picked up a cookie, dipped it in the milk, and tried it cautiously. Her eyes opened in surprise; it was delicious! One of the best cookies ever made, in her opinion!
"So, I don't know how much Mrs. Frederic told you about what we do here, but I am the supervisor of this wonderful - well, usually wonderful - place I call home."
"Not very much," Megan said as she took another cookie. "She only really mentioned that this was a place of endless wonder and that I wouldn't get bored here."
"Well, it is indeed wonder, and I don't think you have to worry about boredom. The others that work here would tell you so, but they are all out on missions. After all, things don't get done themselves around here."
"So... What is here, exactly? What exactly do you do here?"
"Well, I think it's easier to show you than explain," Artie said. He opened a door by the closed windows and waved her through. As she stepped through the door, she was amazed at what she saw. Hundreds - no, thousands - of aisles, and girders, with planes and ships visible in the distance. She was pretty sure she even saw a pyramid! It was wonderful, and she felt surprisingly welcomed by this place! She smelled something that seemed like apples; but there weren't apples here, right? Then again, if there was a pyramid, then maybe there was an apple tree as well.
"Ms. Wilcoxson, welcome to Warehouse 13. Beautiful, isn't it? Come, let me show you around."
As Artie showed her around, explaining what this place was, what was stored here and what her job was going to be, she felt more and more at home, despite barely having been here an hour! It was amazing...objects with powers? Who would have ever guessed? Even as she left the Warehouse to find her room at the Bed and Breakfast in nearby Univille, she was positive she had found her one true place where she would never get bored!
Later that day, other people started arriving. As excited as she was to be part of the Warehouse, she had no idea how the other agents would react to her. She stayed in her room when they arrived, unsure of how to talk to them. A little before seven, she heard a knocking sound. Two people stood at the door, one male and one female. They looked like a cute couple, she thought to herself.
"Hey, you must be the new agent!" the males said rather excitedly. "Aren't you going to join us for supper?"
Megan remained silent, unsure of exactly what to say.
"Pete, I think she's nervous. See how stiff she is?" the woman noted, clearly observant. "No need to be nervous. My name is Myka, and this is Pete. What's your name?"
"Well, Megan, supper is ready. You're welcome to come down and join us, if you'd like."
"It's pork chops!" Pete said. "Breaded and extra crispy~! You can't skip out on it!"
"I suppose I do like pork chops..." she said, stepping out. The pair offered a reassuring smile to her, and the three walked down to the kitchen. There, she met Claudia, Steve, Felix and Aden. As nervous as she was, she quickly warmed up to some of them, especially Pete and Claudia. For the first time in some time, she felt as though she had a nice family.
Claudia's Advice on Friends
Megan was sitting outside the B&B, sitting in a chair. She enjoyed spending time at night, especially on a night with the stars shining as they were. It had been a month since she joined the Warehouse team, but she was still having trouble making friends with the other agents. She got along great with Pete, Myka and Claudia, and was very friendly with Steve. The others, though, she wasn’t as comfortable around. And tonight, the B&B was particularly empty. Felix and Aden were dealing with some experiment gone wrong at the Warehouse, but Artie told her it was under control and they didn't need her help. Pete and Myka had gone out for the night, and Claudia was upstairs with Steve having some private conversation.
Looking up at the stars, Megan couldn't help but think about her old friends. They weren't that great; as she had recently learned, a number of them had ended up in jail on several charges of auto theft. She had made friends with Myka, Pete, Claudia and Steve, but she was having a hard time bonding with the other Warehouse agents. It seemed like they had a bond between themselves - probably from some unspoken events of the past, and although she tried to befriend Felix and Aden, she thought of them more as her superiors than true friends.
"Need some company?" Megan turned to see Claudia standing at the doorway.
"I guess you finished your conversation with Steve?" asked Megan.
"Yeah," Claudia said. "He’s got to head home for a few days. Something about a relative getting married."
"Intriguing," Megan said, even though it wasn’t.
Claudia pulled up a chair across from Megan and looked up at the stars. "It's been a long time since I've done this."
"I'm not great at recognizing the constellations, but I enjoy looking at the stars. And thinking about my life."
Claudia looked over at Megan. "Anything in particular?"
"Well . . . ." Megan hesitated, not really wanting to reveal her emotions. But she decided that she could trust Claudia. "To be honest, I keep thinking about my ex-boyfriend. His name was Andrew, and he was a huge jerk! We only dated for a week, but that was years ago. I haven't dated anyone since then."
"And you're thinking about dating again?" Claudia guessed. Megan nodded.
"I'd like to, but I'm nervous. I mean, I don't know anyone around here who's single, and I don't want to go online to find someone. But sometimes I worry that I'll never find anyone. Friends are nice, but . . . ."
"They can't replace feelings of love," finished Claudia. "I've gone through two boyfriends since I've been at the Warehouse. I know I'll find someone eventually, but I'll admit that I do worry sometimes."
"What do you think I should do?" asked Megan. "I mean, I'd love to go out with a nice guy, but am I rushing it? I can’t even make friends here!"
"I'll tell you what. I'll help you find a boyfriend, if you promise to try and bond with some of the other agents here."
"That's not as easy as it seems," Megan said, slightly sour. "They seem like they're part of their own group to me. I’m just a separate island, and they are the mainland that I’m not connected to."
"But you also aren't actively participating with them in conversation when you're there, either. I know that some of the agents seem . . . . well, strange. We all are. And I know it's not easy for you to make friends. But you made friends with a couple of the H.A.R.P. agents during the Paracelsus incident. I know you can do it, Megan. You just need a little push." Claudia leaned back in her chair. "How about we go to the Warehouse tomorrow, and you can help Felix and I with an experiment?"
Megan looked at her with surprise on her face. "Are you sure that's okay?" she asked nervously. "I wouldn't want to be in the way. And Felix seems . . . ."
"Reclusive? It'll be fine. It'll give you time to bond more with Felix. After all, nothing says friendship more than random experiments that may or may not cause some kind of trouble! And besides, he's very nice once you get to know him."
"Well, I guess as long as you’ll be there, then I’ll take you up on your offer!" Megan said happily.
"Just remember," Claudia said, "relationships are nice, but friendships can go just as deep. If you don’t have friends, the world will remain a very lonely place."
Healing Old Wounds
Megan was standing outside the Warehouse, looking out into the wide fields in front of her. She needed to blow off some steam, and thankfully Sailor Mars’ Transformation Pen needed to be used. Well, technically it didn't need to be used quite yet; it still had a month and a half before it would start to act up. But it didn't matter, since it could be used at any time. And right now, this was completely necessary.
“Mars Power Makeup!” Megan shouted, raising the Pen above her head. In a few short seconds, she had transformed into an exact look-alive of Sailor Mars. She had some targets set up, made to look like cliché mobsters of the 1920s. “Fire Soul!” A round ball of flame shot from her fingertips and blasted one of the signs. Even though she wasn’t able to use any of the other moves, she took pleasure in destroying the wooden cutouts, and quickly "killed" all of them by blasting off their heads.
“You look fierce when you do that,” Pete said. Megan turned around to see him leaning against the door to the Warehouse. “Although clearly you aren’t very spiritual if you can only use that base attack.”
“And how do you know that I can't do others?” Megan snapped. “You don’t know what attacks are more powerful!”
“Well, I know that you are frustrated,” Pete said, walking over closer but still keeping some distance. “And I can tell that if you could, you would have blasted them all away in a second with a much more powerful attack than that. It didn't look that powerful.”
Megan looked at the signs; it was true. She would have much rather destroyed the entire cutouts in one shot as opposed to just the heads. “Maybe I wanted to take the time to destroy them. Did you consider that?”
“No, I’ve seen you do this before. You really wanted to destroy them all. You only use these artifacts from Sailor Moon under two conditions: either it’s been the length of time that they need to be used, or you are using them early to blow off steam. And you used Sailor Mars’ Transformation Pen a month and a half ago.”
Megan turned away from Pete. He had a point, but she wasn’t going to concede it. So she wasn't the most spiritual person of the group. She had a belief, but it wasn't very strong. And she didn't need to be spiritually powerful to blast the heads off of some cardboard mobsters.
“Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering,” he said, mimicking Yoda’s voice. He had a smile on his face, and she knew he meant well. But right now, it was just annoying.
“Yeah, well, why do you think I’m doing this?” Megan asked with a sharp harshness, waving at the headless mobsters. “I’m letting out my anger.”
“But you’re not solving it,” Pete countered. “Something has got you riled up. You were fine this morning at the B&B. What happened between then and now?”
Megan stood quietly, contemplating what she should do. Finally, she spoke up in a quiet voice. “My mom called me this morning. She said how much she missed me, and how she hoped I would come home for Thanksgiving.”
“Alright. Now we're getting somewhere." He walked over until he was standing just a few feet away. "Why is that so bad?”
“. . . . I really don’t want to see her again. Not after what she did to me for so many years.” Pete gave her a look, and she kept going. “My mom’s an alcoholic. She’s been an alcoholic for as long as I can remember. She’s caused me a lot of pain in my life, and I only had one friend in high school because of her who I trusted enough to know. He was my confidant, my release. As soon as I graduated, I had already made plans to go to college, solely so that I could get away from her. Perhaps I made that decision rashly; I did drop out of college. But I wasn’t about to go back to what I knew.
“I looked around for a job, but that was easier said than done. I took odd jobs here and there, mostly helping people with their pets. It’s easy to help animals when you can understand what they’re trying to say. She tried to call me, and I ignored her calls. I ended up joining the Warehouse that year, as you might remember. My dad called me and told me that my grandmother had died, and I went back home.” Tears started forming in her eyes. “I loved her so dearly, and of course I went to her viewing. And of course my mom was there, drunk as could be. And she . . . . she knocked over some of the flowers. I was so angry with her, I just . . . . I couldn’t take it anymore. I exploded on her, cursing her for her absolute stupidity and uncaringness! She was never there for me, and now she ruined what was supposed to be a place of peace! I was so frustrated that as soon as the funeral ended the next day I left and decided to walk back to South Dakota.”
“That’s why you took so long!” said Pete. “We all thought you were just taking extra time off! You were gone for two weeks!”
“Well, I was, in a way,” Megan admitted through the tears that were beginning to stream down her face. She waved the Pen, reverting back to her normal appearance. “I didn’t want to come back to the Warehouse so frustrated and seeped in negative energy; I didn’t want you guys to see that side of me. I hate that side of me. The ugly side. The side that only comes out under extreme distress, and the side of me that scares me the most.” She started sobbing now. “And I thought it was all over. My parents haven’t called me in years. And then today, I got a call from my mom. She said she would love it if I came to Thanksgiving dinner at home this year. She said she was sober now, and going strong. And I hung up on her after saying some . . . . very nasty words. I can’t believe her! She’s told me that she was sober, and was going to be sober, how many times! How can I believe her?! How can I forgive her for everything she’s done to me for the past 20 years?!” Megan dropped to her knees, the weight of all her feelings crushing her spirit.
Pete walked and knelt down besides her; she reached over and hugged him tight, sobbing into his shoulder. He spoke softly into her ear, his gentle tone soothing for her. “I understand what you’re going through. I might not have had anyone who was alcoholic, but my father died when I was twelve. All the time, I think about what might have happened if I had stopped him from going to work that day. How different my life would have been if he stayed with me. But the past won’t change, no matter how much I might wish for it to.
“I was also an alcoholic, you know. I was so wrapped up in it, but I had no family around me to tell me to stop at that time. Even if I had, I doubt I would have listened. But eventually I payed the price, when I hurt a close friend of mine. He got hurt, but I walked away injury free. After that, I swore I would never drink again. I started going to AA, and now I’ve been sober for fifteen years. Well, technically six, if I count that time when I was in Myka’s body after she was drunk.” Megan stopped sobbing for a second and leaned back, giving Pete a confused look. “It was a pair of bookends, I can’t remember their origin, and we swapped bodies while Myka was at her reunion. The point is, I know how difficult it can be. I might not have had many people to forgive, but they didn’t make it easy for me. Some of them still haven’t forgiven me. But when my friend that I had injured forgave me . . . . that was a great moment for me. And I think, if your mom truly is sober, it would make her feel better if you forgave her.”
“But how can I know if she’s telling the truth?” Megan asked, still crying but more quietly now. “I don’t want to be disappointed again . . . . I can't bare to go through another disaster.”
“What if Steve and I go with you to your Thanksgiving dinner?” Pete suggested after a moment. “That was, you have the support of two of your friends, and Steve will be able to tell you definitively if she’s telling the truth or not.”
Megan blew her snot on the ground and wiped her hand on her jeans. “You guys would do that for me?”
“Of course! It’ll help you greatly if you can clear up old wounds. And even if it doesn’t end well, we still get a free meal out of it!”
Megan laughed softly. “That was a terrible joke, Pete. But thank you. I suppose I should wait a few days before replying, though. What with the temperamental attitude and all from using this artifact.”
---One Month Later---
“Hey mom,” Megan said. It was the day before Thanksgiving, and she had brought Pete and Steve with her for her family’s Thanksgiving dinner, just as Pete had suggested. The house was cleaner than she remembered it to be, but it still felt like the Victorian-styled home she grew up in.
“Megan!” Her mom said happily. She moved forward, but then stopped. She smiled, though it looked a little sad. “How have you been? I haven’t seen you for so long! Are these your coworkers that you were telling me about?”
“Yeah. This is Pete and Steve. They work with me at my job in South Dakota.”
“You’ll have to tell me about it later. Please, come in. I made cookies earlier for the occasion. Forgotten chocolate chip, your favorite.”
They all enjoyed the cookies, and later in the evening they sat around the television. Her dad came home from work, and they all enjoyed watching a comedy. Pete and Steve stayed in a guest room, and after her dad went to bed, Megan sat down with her mom, facing the kitchen. Steve and Pete stood in the other room, and leaned around the corner to hear.
“Mom . . . .” Megan started, but paused, unsure where to begin. She looked at Pete, who gave her a smile and a thumbs up. “I . . . . I know that I’ve been . . . evasive the past few years. But I just couldn’t stand being with you when you were . . . . drunk.”
“Sweetie . . . .” her mom said softly. “I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I honestly don’t remember most of them. And I realize now how badly I must have hurt you for you to isolate yourself so much these past few years. But the biggest mistake I made was letting this go on for as long as I did. Do you remember when I knocked over those flowers at your grandmother’s viewing?” Megan winced as she recalled that painful memory. “When you yelled at me with all of that ferocity . . . . That made me realize how bad I was. How low I had gone, and how badly I had ruined your life up to then. From that moment on, I changed. I haven’t touched alcohol since that day. It hasn’t been easy . . . . There were times when I didn’t think I could make it. But every time I thought about how easy it would be to pick back up, I thought about what I put you through. I stayed sober thanks to you.”
Megan looked towards Steve. He gave her a nod. She looked back at her mom, tears forming in her eyes. She was telling the truth after all. “Oh, mom . . . .” She lunged forward and hugged her tightly, tears rolling down her eyes. Her mom was surprised by the sudden affection, but returned the hug, tears starting to run down her eyes as well. Steve and Pete went back to the guest room, leaving them be.
Thanksgiving dinner was quite enjoyable. Many family members came out: Megan's grandparents who were still alive, her cousin from Florida, some of her uncles and aunts. There was, to Megan's surprise, just enough food for everyone. Considering the entire family was heavy eaters, it was amazing that a twenty-two pound turkey and twenty pounds of mashed potatoes was just enough for the twelve mouths at the table. And of course, the day wouldn't be complete without everyone gathered in the living room to watch the football game. And, of course, the massive dessert pile that everyone stuffed their faces with at the end of the night.
They went back to the Warehouse the next day. Megan renewed her bond with her mom in the few short days they had spent together. After they left, she thanked Pete and Steve for what they did. It was thanks to them that she got a second chance with her mom. It was thanks to them that her old wounds could begin to heal. And none of this would have been possible if she hadn't joined the Warehouse all those years ago.
Alright, alright. Mike would be the first to admit that, yeah, maybe Tesla practice this late wasn't a good idea. And yeah, both he and Oto were tired and their aim was off a little. Okay, maybe a bit more than a little. And yeah, he asked Oto to pick up W.C. Fields' Juggling Balls when they fell off the shelf because he thought he wouldn't be affected. That was a reasonable assumption, wasn't it?
But could you blame him if it turned out they still turned Oto into a slurring, giggling mess?
"Oh, what's'at?" Oto asked with wide eyes and smile as he reached his hand out to grab a bingo spinner cage full of various numbered balls. "Ooh, whassat!" He slurred as he turned his head and hurried over instead to a set of bowling pins arranged in a triangular shape. Mike grabbed him by the back of his shirt, his partner continuing to try and walk forward with his arms outstretched before pulling him away.
It was bad enough that he had to try and guide the poor guy all the way from the Targeting Coil to the front office, having to bat away his hand and tug on his shirt whenever he started reaching out his hands to play with some random artifact that might, literally or not, blow up in his face. But twice Oto managed to run away, and it took Mike several frustrating and worrying minutes to find him again. The second time he managed to tackle Oto before he dunked his head in a bucket of Neutralizer to see what it tasted like.
"I bet ish, like, grape er somethin'," Oto told him as he was dragged closer to the approaching staircase leading to the balcony. "It don't smell like grape, but ish gotta taste like -hic- somethin', right?"
He made a mental note to himself to request those juggling balls be placed on a higher shelf.
When they finally made it to Oto's car, Oto was certain he was the one to drive them home. He made a fuss for almost three minutes when Mike told him no, almost like a disappointed child when they're told they can't have ice cream. Eventually he settled into the passenger seat and buckled up, busying himself with pulling the seat belt up and down from the side of the car to hear the sound it made.
Once they were on the road entering Univille, he was singing drunkenly to the radio. Mike had to admit, even with his voice all slurry, he had a decent signing voice. Oto kept prodding him to join along, poking his shoulder over and over until he conceded. They started out as a duet, but without Mike noticing Oto had soon dropped out and was leaning his elbows on his chair's armrest, staring open-mouthed at Mike until the song and he finished.
Mike wasn't one to brag, but he did think he had a pretty darn good voice. He found Oto's staring somewhat strange though.
"What?" He asked as he turned a corner and headed down the road towards the B&B.
"Yer voice." Oto replied with obvious awe in his voice. "I, it's, it's like... like I just got front row tickets to an angel choir er shomethin'..."
Mike smiled, cheeks turning a little pink. "I mean, I'm good, but I'm not that good."
"You, you're, you're like, the best, you gotta starta band -hic- er go inta theater er somethin'!"
Mike chuckled and pulled slowly into the front parking space of the B&B so as not to jostle Oto's now likely fragile stomach. He got him out of the car and up the front steps and into the building just fine, but once they crossed the threshold Oto swayed on his feet, nearly falling over.
"Those bawls," Oto said, his voice now sounding quite tired, "I think they make ya -hic- make ya pass outer somethin', right?"
Mike nodded and helped him to his feet, draping one arm over his shoulder and slowly guiding him up the stairs to his bedroom. When they reached it, he clicked on the light and sat his partner up on the bed.
"C'mon Otter, take off your shirt," he instructed. "Don't wanna risk you puking on yourself, do we?"
Oto shook his head and pulled his shirt off over his head, tossing it unceremoniously to the floor at the foot of his bed. He then bent over to try and take off his shoes, but with their laces being double knotted, he was having a fair amount of trouble.
"Here, let me help." Mike knelt and began untying Oto's shoes. As he did so, he felt Oto start playing with his long hair.
"Mike," he said as he ran Mike's hair through his fingers, "Yer hair is so nice and soft and -hic- stuff."
"I condition often." Mike said with a chuckle. "I'd be happy to lend you some if you want."
"And yer eyes are all sparkly and stuff, and ya have fancy clothes, and the prettiest voice in the whole wide wide world, and yer the nicest person in the universe." he said, his voice starting to slow as he neared passing out while Mike took off one shoe and was nearly done untying the second.
"Well, thank you Otter," Mike responded with a smile. "You aren't so bad yourself."
"Mikey?" Oto asked. Mike looked up, surprised. That was the first time Oto had called him that name, which usually only the guy he was dating called him. He told him as such when they were first formally introduced, anyway.
"Yeah, Otter?" Mike asked.
"I think I like ya er somethin'..." Oto said so matter-of-factly before promptly falling over onto his back on the bed, snoring loudly.
Mike took off Oto's second shoe and placed them neatly together under the side of the bed. He stood and looked down at his unconscious partner, wondering. Whether Oto would remember what he said, mostly. And what he himself thought of what he had just been told...
With a smile, Mike adjusted Oto so he was in a comfortable position in bed, upon where he quickly started snuggling with his pillows. He then turned around and walked out, clicking the light off and closing the door almost all the way.
"Yeah, or something." He said softly before fully closing the door.
In My Mother's Eyes
Nikki sipped her coffee as she quickly typed in various keywords into the search engine, begging to get a ping. Two days ago, she and Tyler had used the Bronze Baby Shoes to venture back into their memories. While the original intention was for Nikki to figure out what happened to her mother, they had also jumped back into Tyler's past to see that, despite having grown up in completely different states, that even at a young age they had been connected to the Warehouse; Tyler's father had become abusive after an encounter with an artifact while Nikki's mother would occasionally store artifacts for later pick up.
When they had gone to the night when Nikki's mother vanished, she had discovered that an arrow that was being stored in a canister had caused her to vanish in a flash of light. From the logs she was able to access, it turned out that the arrow stored was more than just a simple tool of war, but rather a powerful artifact known as the Arrow of Time. It had been snagged in Virginia and was being stored until the Warehouse was prepared to house it.
According to the notes from the Agents who collected it, the arrow was capable of breaking the time line, moving whatever it struck forward into the future. It had been on the agent's "Must Get" list for some time ever since Arthur Eddington's theory created it in 1927. The problem had been that it would, on occasion, jump ahead in time with the object it hit, thus forcing the agents to wait for it to appear again.
"Nikki...you do know what time it is, right?" Nikki looked up from her computer to see Leena leaning in the doorway to the HARP Office, "If you keep these long nights up, it'll affect you in the long run. Your aura is already showing signs of stress."
Nikki got up, clutching her forehead, "I think I'm onto something...since the canister containing the arrow was damaged in the robbery, I'm thinking that we could use Francis Wenhan's Wind Tunnel to keep the arrow moving without it actually hitting somthing, but neutralizing it will be the hard part. Any goo that it touches will run the risk of being zapped into the future, so I-"
Leena held up her hand as she entered in, "Nikki, calm down. There's been no sign of the Arrow of TIme for the last ten years. We have no idea when the arrow will show up again, so the best thing you can do right now is to-"
Nikki broke away, nearly in tears, "You don't understand...this is my mother we're talking about here. All I have left of her is my brother, her pendant, and this case." She tossed a book across the room in anger, "I know I can't get her back, I've known that from the start. The Warehouse may have taken her away from me, but Warehouse will help me bring closure, dammit!" She collapsed to her knees in the center of the room, tears streaming down her face.
Leena knelt down beside her and hugged her, "All of us have had make sacrafices for the Warehouse, some larger than others." She let a moment of silence sit as the words sank in, "Whenever your mother is now, I'm sure she's able to look back and see all the amazing things her daughter did. The best way you can make her proud now is to be the best agent you can be right now...and that starts with a good night's rest."
Mike and Oto had been alerted to an incident in Montana earlier that day. A man had, for an as of yet unknown reason, began firing arrows at the employees at a factory outside of town. While there had been no fatalities before everyone evacuated, several police officers had been seriously injured by flying projectiles in their attempt to stop the man. The agents arrived on the scene in less than a few hours later, the man still inside and the cops outside not knowing what to do.
Machines had been broken beyond repair, arrows both whole and snapped jutting out of almost all of them at all angles. Windows were shattered and blood stained random spots on the floor from when the metal arrowheads grazed the limbs of fleeing factory workers.
The pair split up to try and find the man faster, each armed with a Tesla in the hopes of incapacitating the man before he got the chance to stick a shaft between their eyes. Finding him hadn't been hard in the least, Mike just had to follow the trail of increasing amounts of arrows. Unfortunately, the man had seen Mike a second before the agent saw him, and fired.
That's where Mike was now - on the ground clutching his leg where a speeding arrow grazed him. It wasn’t serious, but now he couldn’t outrun the man or his infinite ammo. Nor could he blast him with his Tesla, as it had been knocked out of his hand and sent several feet away by another arrow.
A few yards ahead of Mike, the man raised an ornate colored cylinder capped on both ends with gold to the sky. The artifact shimmered with a golden aura, and from its tip emerged a volley of arrows, glowing too as they arced through the air and began their descent towards their target on the floor.
Mike closed his eyes and raised an arm over his head, expecting to soon be full of more holes than cheddar cheese, when he heard rapid footsteps from behind him grow louder.
He looked up in time to see Oto jump in front of him and raise a large red Roman shield over himself. As the flood of arrows struck it, his feet dug against the concrete ground as he was pushed back, gritting his teeth and trying to hold the line.
When the arrows stopped, the shield glowed bright orange as if it were building up energy. Oto flung his shielded arm to the side and sent all of the arrows embedded into it right back at their source with a burst of energy. The man in their way quickly ducked behind a nearby conveyor belt while his own arrows struck the wall and machinery where he once stood.
“Mike,” Oto said with a slight turn of his head, keeping his eyes on the attack, with a voice of strength and confidence. “You okay?”
Mike looked in stunned silence for a few moments, floored by Oto’s surprise rescue and how, for lack of a better word, cool he looked, poised for battle and giving off a sense of confidence he rarely ever saw. “Y-yeah,” he said finally, “I am now.”
Oto turned his eyes to his partner and smiled thankfully.
Ahead of them the man reemerged from behind the conveyor belt. He raised the baton in his hand and shot a single speeding arrow directly at Oto’s head.
Oto turned his head and caught the arrow less than two inches from his face in his hand outfitted with a metal gauntlet/ The gauntlet shimmered yellow and he snapped the wooden arrow shaft in half without breaking eye contact with the man across from him.
The man shouted and swung the baton in a horizontal arc, sending another line of arrows right at them.
Oto discarded the shield and picked Mike up bridal style, his two gauntlets enabling him to easily carry a heavy load. He ran quickly away, ducking as the arrows shot over them and struck the walls ahead of them. He ducked and dodged more and more arrows with incredible skill, running behind machines and hurrying down another hall.
When the two were certain they had lost their attacker, at least temporarily, Oto stopped and knelt to set Mike down against a wall. He moved his partner’s hands and looked at the bleeding wound on his leg, Mike wincing in pain. Oto glared daggers at the injury and clenched his fists, the yellow aura around the gauntlets growing brighter.
“Stay here.” He told Mike firmly. He stood up and turned back down the way they came. He walked briskly with intent as Mike watched him leave, until he found the man pursuing them again.
The pair stood in silence for several seconds, scowling at each other intently until the man shot three arrows at Oto. Oto merely raised one gauntlet and slapped the arrows away with the back of his hand. The man fired again, and Oto batted them away with his palm, now walking slowly towards the man who made the mistake of hurting his partner.
The man growled, raised his baton, and fired a continuous and rapid stream of arrows at his approaching opponent. Oto raised one hand, palm forward, and the arrows broke or deflected as they struck while he continued walking without breaking stride.
Sensing that he might not be able to stop him, the man slowly backed away as his baton kept firing. Oto was closing the gap faster than he could get away, however. When they were close enough, Oto swung a hand up to send the artifact twirling into the air, stopping the arrows instantly. The man’s gaze followed it for a brief second before Oto roundhouse kicked him in the head and knocked him out cold, crumpling to the ground in a heap. Oto raised his hand and caught the baton as it fell without moving his eyes from the body on the ground.
From behind, Mike limped towards him with a sleeve torn from his shirt and wrapped around his leg. Oto turned around and hurried over to him.
“Mikey, what’re ya doin’? Yer leg’s hurt!” He fretted, grabbing onto his shoulder for him to lean on for support.
“That.” Mike said with a wide smile, waving off his leg pain, “Was awesome! Did you see how badass you were!?”
Oto blushed and rubbed the back of his head, his gauntlets clinking. “Badass? I was just protectin’ ya. I wouldn’t have been able t’do anything if Charlie hadn’t let us use Pompey’s Shield or le Maingre’s Gauntlets.”
“Let this be a lesson to anyone who messes with me,” Mike smiled and gave Oto a hard hug, “I’ve got my own personal bodyguard.”
Sandy blinked, running his hand over his face as he fought off the bleary exhaustion that had overtaken him when…well, he couldn’t remember, so he was most likely whammied. He groaned, pushing himself up off the ground where had been laying to a sitting position. He was lying inside what looked to be an overturned stone building.
Sandy’s head throbbed, and could barely breathe. He was sure he had broken or injured something close to vital. Still, Warehouse Agent he was, he wasn’t content to die in an upside-down house. He crawled towards a large hole in the wall and poked his head out.
Sandy had begun to feel the cold air, but a sudden icy gust of wind to his face nearly chilled him to the core. He hiked the large coat around himself closer, and looked around in wonder. He appeared to be sitting in a giant nest, constructed off tree-sized branches. Above the rim of the nest he could see staggering, craggy cliffs and mountains covered in snow.
Everything began to come back. Attacks. Strange sightings. Pete joking about Yetis. Himalayas, certainly, but not Yetis. Three member team just in case anything went wrong. Looks like something did.
Gingerly picking his way out of the overturned house and through the nest, Sandy blanched at the carnage within the nest. There were other huts, boats, boulders, statues, and any number of animal carcasses, each with one giant hole in them. He found a golden Buddha, smiling despite its weathered appearance and gaping hole in its stomach. If he ever survived this, he’d avoid mentioning this one to Steve.
The oxygen was extremely thin at this height, too. Pete and Myka had the climbing goggles of Hillary and Tenzing respectively, which made it easier for them to breathe when they were climbing the mountain. Sandy had opted for the air tank. Slightly limiting, to be sure, and it must have caused that huge sore spot on his back, but he hadn’t expected to be kidnapped by whatever had been caught on film last week by a tourist in Nepal. Sandy checked the gauge to the tank. The air was a little low, but he had been given Evangelista Torricelli’s original barometer to manipulate the tanks air pressure if things got dire. It couldn’t create oxygen, though. Sandy wasn’t sure if it would be better to save his energy and oxygen and wait for help, or try to scale the cliff (he eyed the steep face and shuddered, then winced at the reaction his body put towards the movement).
Speaking of help, Sandy looked around. If Pete and Myka had been nabbed, too, there would be a slightly better chance of survival. Plus, they had the Farnsworth.
“Pete? Myka?” He called out, forcing his voice to be louder to compensate for the lack of sound in the frozen air.
It was, ultimately, a bad decision. It was at that moment that what had kidnapped him made itself known
A huge shadow fell over Sandy, and he yelped as he narrowly dodged out of the way of a screaming bird of impossible size. He oofed as he hit the deck, wincing from how much pain was careening through his nerves. His vision slightly blackened, Sandy took cover underneath the roof of another over-turned hut, scanning the skies for his assailant.
It wasn’t difficult to find.
As it flew, it was easy to see how the thing resembled a bird. It had wings with a span that would rival a plane, a wickedly curved beak, and shining talons that looked razor sharp. But it was made almost entirely of bronze, weathered with a patina that almost gave the creature a multi-colored hue. Everything, from the incredibly realistic feathers to the sharply focused eyes, was metal.
Hephaestus clearly knew what he was doing.
When reports of a giant bird had pinged the Warehouse computers, something had also dinged. Apparently during the move from Warehouse 3 to Warehouse 4 of the Hunnic Empire, one of the Grecian automatons had activated and escaped. The automaton was supposedly the infamous Caucasian Eagle, which supposedly pecked out the liver of Prometheus while he was chained to the side of a mountain, and it eluded recapturing until it was finally lost somewhere in Asia, probably contributing to legends about Rocs. That is, until it was found last week. Then it definitely started the rumors.
Artie had sent everyone but Trailer on this expedition, because after sixteen centuries who knew what the colossal beast was like. Pete, Myka, and Sandy were one team, while Claudia, Artie, and Steve were another. The plan had been to locate where it was hiding out (“Its main purpose was a torture device – under no circumstances are we to ever approach it!” Artie had gruffly ordered during the debriefing), wait for it to return, and neutralize the creature with Heracles’ Bow and Arrows, which the Grecian hero had used to down the beast the first time. Claudia had whipped up the bow to include a target locking goo missile just for good measure, and each of the agents had been given an arrow just in case.
Unfortunately, the plan went down the cathode tubes when the eagle surprised Sandy’s team and apparently kidnapped him. It must have dropped him into the nest, but luckily in the relative safety of the house. Otherwise he would have surely been pecked to death. He prayed Myka and Pete were OK. He spat what tasted like copper from his mouth, and blood came out. Hm. So that’s what that’s like.
Sandy thought. The bird was only following its mechanical orders – a search and destroy mission against anything that could possibly have a liver – but he didn’t have Heracles’ bow on him. Which was probably a good thing. He likely would have lost it during the fall or worse, while flying to the nest. Which meant back-up could be coming around the mountain…when they come, as they say. And who knew when they would.
Sandy clenched his jaw, fighting against his body’s protests to just lie down quietly and die. He needed to think. Unlike the gargoyle, this machine was supposed to have been built for the will of Zeus. Which meant a lightning bolt might actually power the thing up, which might be how the thing kept running for all these years. So Tesla wouldn’t be much use.
This is a stupid plan, Sandy thought blithely to himself. Stupid, stupid, stupid plan. A good plan. Really, it is. But so, so stupid. But he could still see the eagle circling outside, waiting for him to come out. And soon it would likely stop waiting.
Sandy unhooked his pack, removing the artifact bags that held one of Heracles’ Golden Arrows and the barometer, respectively. Then he unhooked the oxygen tank. Taking the kara wrapped around his middle from when they visited the Sherpas, he tied the arrow tightly to the tank. Then he grabbed a nearby rock and slammed it a few times against the release valve for good measure.
“Now,” Sandy thought out loud, “comes the stupid part.”
Taking a deep breath, rolling his neck and grinning when it popped, Sandy grabbed the tank and barometer and ran – or hobbled, as it were – from his shelter to the open air, falling into a clearing facing the sky where the Caucasian Eagle circled.
The eagle did not disappoint. Honing in on his body, the eagle drew itself off course and swooped down at an angle towards Sandy’s prone form at a breakneck speed, screaming its hell-raising mechanical screech. Sandy wished he could have had a few moments of “waiting until we see the whites of their eyes,” but the eagle was too fast. Screaming in return, he propped the oxygen tank against his body and used the barometer to instantly fill the tank to high pressure.
In this case, there were two likely scenarios. One, that the tank would rupture in the wrong place end up veering off course, or two, the tank would explode and kill Sandy from pressure and shrapnel.
Of course there was the third scenario, in which the tank would fly true to its target, piercing the giant mechanical bird in the head, sending giant sparks everywhere.
Sandy was very grateful that the unlikely scenario won out this time.
The bird faltered, its limbs losing mobility as it clipped its wing against the side of the mountain face, sending the automaton into an awkward tailspin. Sandy could feel the sharp bronze plating pass over his nose as the bird veered overhead, and hit the edge of the nest, absolutely shattering one side. The entire structure shook, and Sandy screamed again at the fear of falling who knew how far to the bottom of the Himalayas.
But the nest otherwise held together as the bird fell, broken, with one final automated screech of metal gears grinding, into the vastness of the Himalayan mountains.
Sandy lay there, looking up at the sight of absolute openness framed by the mountain peaks as the echoes of the bird faded away. It was like when he was younger, and stared up into the sky in his backyard and felt like he could just fall straight up. Except now the stars seemed much closer.
Sandy started to cry, quickly brushing them away before they turned to ice, at how alive everything felt. He had just destroyed an artifact which could have eaten an Easter Island Head for lunch, all by himself, in the tallest terrestrial mountain range, and he was probably going to die from losing his air tank if his injuries didn't kill him first. If he could just reach out, though, and touch…if he could just reach out…reach…bzzz…bzzaaaa…bzzzzzzaaaarr…art…artie…found...hi…rry…got…you…bzzzz…
Sandy awoke in the presence of his Warehouse family, apparently in a Sherpa hut, who looked exhausted and worried. Granted, he probably looked much the same, if not worse.
Claudia was the first to notice he was awake, and quickly gathered him up for a hug, careful to slide around any sore spots she noticed. “Thank the maker,” Claudia said, relief flooding her voice. Sandy heard similar affects from the other team members, and though over the next month he would suffer from the worst effects of hypothermia aside from death…
He had touched the sky.
The humidity in the air made every breath thick. The foliage of viridian greens was thick. The layer of insects that whirred and whined in Sandy’s ears was thick.
The only thing that was thin, at this point, was Sandy’s patience.
Artie, who was leading the duo through the vegetation, was not faring much better – an earlier incident had separated the agents from Artie’s bag of tricks, leaving both of them nearly defenseless except for their Teslas, and Artie especially sour. If not for the very real danger that the two were in, Sandy might have tried to joke that Artie was just upset that the oppressive heat had forced him to shed his usual trench coat.
As it was, however, their lack of resources and general discomfort made all joking the furthest thing from their mind. And try as he might to stay positive, Sandy was quickly losing his cool.
“No, please, Mayor Breckenridge, thank you so much for this,” the young man muttered quietly to himself, as he pushed past vines and swatted gnats with perhaps just a bit more force than was strictly necessary. “Really, thank you for whatever the hell you did. I’m sure the exotic plant life growing up the side of the building as we speak is completely natural! Was this on your docket for the year, an attempt to bring more green to Univille? Because my, my, my, is it working like a charm! And while we’re on the topic, than-”
Sandy’s rant was cut short as a large, bulky fern leaf that he had been pushing back slipped from his grasp and slapped him in the face. The loud gasp of surprise was quickly muffled by his own hand, but Artie had apparently heard it, turning quickly. Through the spaces of the fern, Sandy was mortified to see that Artie’s hand had already been going for the Tesla clipped to his side. They were supposed to be quiet, dammit!
He could only imagine what Artie saw, even in the dim lighting caused by the canopy of trees above them. A bruised and battered Sandy, covered in bug bites and deep scratches, a huge fern leaf plastered onto his face, shaking as he tried to blink back the pain of the impact. Was his nose bleeding? Dammit, this is what happens when you complain, Artie’s going through the same problems as you are, but you just had to bitch about it instead of dealing with it, he hates it when people complain uselessly, dammit, dammit, dammit…
Since Artie and Claudia had moved the statue of Zeus to the Univille Conservatory, both it and the statue of Hera had been model artifacts as far as the Warehouse was concerned. Neither seemed to be active anymore, and the brief excitement over the new statue amongst the rhododendrons had passed without a single instance of trouble. Nobody had even attempted to vandalize the effigy of the head Greek god, miraculously, though for weeks after its initial move Artie had been on edge, waiting for a news report of a troublemaker being found fried at the foot of the statue with a spray paint can in hand.
Nothing had gone wrong.
Which, in all honesty, they should have taken to mean something would.
Not less than two hours ago, Sandy and Artie had been archiving case files and cross-checking the ones already archived while everyone else was out on retrievals – Sandy making much less headway on his stack as he compulsively double and triple checked every step he was making, unable to shake the sick feeling that had been accompanying him all morning.
Hell, for the better part of two years.
Sandy normally appreciated these moments of quiet reading, soft classical music playing in the background as per Artie’s tastes, interrupted only by the quiet ramblings of the older Russian-Jewish man as he commented on the more interesting cases. Since arriving at the Warehouse years ago, Sandy had found his place in cataloguing and maintenance, something that he suspected that Artie approved of. But while Abigail had picked up much of Leena’s responsibilities running the bed and breakfast, and Steve took up the mantle of shelving incoming artifacts, in the weeks that followed Leena’s death it had been Sandy who had picked up her role as historian and right hand to Artie. And his own neuroses had been climbing since.
Sandy had never been sure if Artie approved of this change or not, which had troubled him for a few reasons. Artie had torn himself to shreds after Leena, and even after Artie came back to his regular self, there had been times when the older man must have been turning to find her, only to find Sandy in her place.
But Leena had died a long time ago, and those instances of mistaken names or muddled memories were few and far between. No, what was really troubling Sandy was that even now, so long since the incident, he couldn’t determine whether or not Artie approved of him. In fact, Sandy hated to admit, he had been having an increasingly difficult time determining anything anymore. His “freaky-deaky-spooky” intuition, as he had once jokingly called it, was shriveling up, leaving him self-conscious. Steve could spot lies. Claudia could build anything. And Pete had his own spider-sense.
But Sandy was having trouble remembering whether or not he left the sink on. Without his ability to trust his own mind, the gift that had brought him into the world of the Warehouse…what good was he?
While Sandy had been trying to read through the report in front of him, distracting himself from this sense of self-doubt, the quiet work of he and Artie was interrupted by a blaring alarm from Claudia’s computer. Sandy jumped from the sound, just barely managing to catch the file before the papers spilled everywhere. Artie fared much better, rolling over to the computer on his chair, adjusting his glasses with one hand as he typed out the deactivation of the alarm in the other.
“What the hell was that?” Sandy asked from where he sat in the leather chair a few feet away, noting how the older agent ran his hand over his face, huffing in annoyance.
Artie didn’t even glance his way, instead moving to grab his jacket and bag as he answered cryptically, “Someone finally incited the ire of the gods.”
Maybe that someone was actually me, Sandy thought bitterly, his eyes closed as he breathed deeply, trying to do anything but think about the vegetative smacking he had just received and failing miserably. It was a deserved smacking too, he felt. Though he had tried to keep his snappy commentary on the situation in a voice just barely above a whisper, there was now no way of telling how much Artie had actually heard. His aggravation had distracted him enough to miss the very obvious danger to his face. Sandy was loathe to admit it, but it was possible he had been so impassioned that he was louder than intended.
And then, to top it all off, he might have put both of them, as well as Mayor Breckenridge, wherever she was in this mess, in incredible danger with his yelp.
Artie was going to kill him if they ever made it out of here alive. And despite his support position in the Warehouse staff, Sandy couldn’t stand the thought of being considered useless in the field. Or, worse yet, to be considered incompetent by Artie, who still hadn’t said anything.
The self-doubt of his own failing intuition began to creep up again, and Sandy clenched his jaw as he tried to beat down the negative thoughts that were invading his conscious.
The familiar shrill, tin ringing of the Farnsworth interrupted the moment. Despite the volume having been turned low in preparation for just this scenario, Sandy felt his admittedly weak grasp on faith in his competency lower further. Any sound could be the straw to break the camel’s back. Quickly moving to grab the video phone clipped to his side and ducking underneath his fern assaulter, Sandy considered passing the Farnsworth off to Artie only for a second before taking a shallow breath and flipping it open revealing the faces of Myka and Pete.
“Sandy!” the curly haired woman said, her face uncomfortably close to the camera screen.“Where’s Artie? We’ve been trying to reach him-”
Sandy hushed her, as Artie winced at her volume. “Shhh! Not so loud!” he whispered, looking around to check the sound hadn’t been noticed. “Artie’s right here with me. We lost his Farnsworth.”
Myka furrowed her brow and pursed her lips, but dutifully dropped her volume. “What’s going on? Where are you?” she asked quietly, worry beginning to etch itself into her tone. Next to her, Pete swallowed whatever remnants of food he had been eating, bringing his full attention to the younger agent on his screen.
Sandy had picked his way through the undergrowth over to Artie. “We’re at the Univille Conservatory,” the older man answered once he was in view. Sandy couldn’t bring himself to make eye contact with his boss, but his ears pricked as he tried desperately to determine whether any of the exhaustion and frustration in Artie’s tone was directed at him.
Not that I’d be able to tell, he thought bitterly.
Heedless to Sandy’s internal monologue, Artie was explaining the situation as best as he could to Pete and Myka, a challenge given how quietly he was trying to speak. “Something tripped the Zeus alarm, but it wasn’t a vandal. When we got here, the police were talking about how a giant branch had grabbed the mayor when she opened the doors this morning.”
Wordlessly, Artie guided the Farnsworth to show the mass of vegetation that surrounded him and Sandy. Trunks the size of small houses sprouted from the ground, vines large enough to double as anacondas wound throughout the space, and rose blooms the size of dinner plates could be seen everywhere. And it was all still growing. “Welcome to the Univillian Rainforest,” Artie remarked drily as he brought the camera back on him and Sandy.
Myka was gaping at the screen, so Pete took the opportunity to grab the Farnsworth from her hand. “So you guys think the plants triggered the alarm?”
Sandy nodded, brushing his hair from his face and wiping the sweat from his brow. “The statue is somewhere in this jungle, and it must have gotten jostled in the sudden growth,” he panted.
“OK, but where’s the mayor?” Myka asked, snatching the Farnsworth back.
Sandy shook his head, while Artie grumbled, “Good question.” The two hadn’t seen or heard anything from the missing mayor since they had entered.
The two older agents shared a worried look before turning back to the camera. “And the whispering…?”
“Artie’s idea. If Zeus is willing to throw lightning bolts at potential threats…”
“…Then you’re sitting in a giant matchbox right now.” Pete finished, both his and Myka’s expressions striken.
Artie nodded grimly. “The humidity is helping prevent any blazes, I’m sure, but if the statue completely panics for any reason, or if the plants destroy the foundation of the building…” he trailed off, as if unsure how to finish the thought. But all four of them knew. Two agents, lost in an ever shifting maze on the verge of collapse, with dangerous artifacts lost with them, one completely unknown, was not an equation for survival.
Sandy worried his lip, and could feel it as his attention was swept from the conversation into the current situation. Artie was muttering something to Myka and Pete, but all Sandy could hear was the rush of blood in his ears as the thoughts he was trying to keep down were released.
Congratulations, Sandy. No, really, congratulations. You can bitch and moan about the Mayor all you like, but you know who’s really at fault here? You. What good are you? You’ve earned the honor of being the most useless agent for the Warehouse. What good are you to Artie if you can’t work fast in the office, and what good are you to the regents if you can’t keep it together out in the field? That sick feeling you have of constantly making mistakes is only proof you aren’t meant to be here. It’s evident that you’ve lost any talent that you might have once had, or you would have gotten Artie and the mayor out of here by now. You failed. You failed. You failed. What good are you?
Sandy blinked, unsure of what just happened. Taking in Artie’s shocked expression, mirrored on the black-and-white faces of Pete and Myka, Sandy realized had missing something. Mentally berating himself again, he looked around for evidence of a new threat. Had the fire finally started? Was the ceiling dropping nearby?
It was only when he felt the wetness on his cheeks and realized that he had been crying in front of the others that Sandy understood. God, they had seen him crying, and completely apropos of nothing like a total lunatic! Sandy could feel his neck heat up as he scrubbed his face with his hands. I really am useless.
“Sorry, sorry, something got in my eyes,” he lied lamely. There had to be agents who just simply got fired before, right? Maybe his old apartment in Montana was available.
“Sandy, you’re not a failure.”
He froze. What? How did…? Did that mean…?
The full implications of Artie saying those words hit Sandy like a freight train.
Had he said his mental self-hatred monologue outloud?
Daring to look back at Artie’s face, Sandy’s heart sank. At least some part of it.
Myka’s gaze from the screen switched back and forth from Sandy to Artie. “Artie, do you think this is a side effe-“ she began, but Artie raised his finger partly to his mouth, shaking his hand to stop her from finishing her thought. He didn’t take his eyes off of Sandy, who was ashamedly staring at the ground, as he spoke, “No, no, I think this is…Listen, you two get here as soon as you grab the earrings, we’re going to need hands on deck for damage control if this goes south.”
“But-!” Myka didn’t get to finish her protest before Artie shut the Farnsworth.
The silence that followed was pregnant with embarrassment for Sandy. This wasn’t how he wanted to die, not like this. Not with the people he looked up to realizing he was a fucking basket case in the most pathetic way possible. He braced himself for Artie to…scoff, say nothing, say something, keep moving, anything. Anything seemed terrible.
Sandy started as he felt two hands grip his shoulders. He looked up to see Artie’s face, the tension of the day replaced with something else entirely – something comforting.
“Sandy, there is nothing wrong with you.” Sandy couldn’t help the small snort of disbelief that burbled up from inside him at that, and he looked back down, but Artie wouldn’t have it. “Hey, hey, look at me. C’mon. There is nothing wrong with you, Sandy. You are an intelligent, capable member of this team. And there is nothing useless in that.”
Sandy didn’t say anything for a minute, taking a shallow breath before he whispered, “I don’t know how to trust my intuition anymore.”
He could feel Artie’s grip shift as he realized what Sandy meant. The second guessing in his reports, the lowering productivity in the office, even the subtle avoidance of going on missions – anything that forced him to make a decision was bringing him stress. Sandy hated saying that out loud, let alone thinking it, like giving it a verbal thought made it real. Tangible. A permanent problem, rather than a temporary issue.
“You are worth more than this.”
Sandy looked up sharply at Artie’s words.
The older agent was clearly choosing his words carefully, but soldiered on. “There hasn’t ever been a time that I’ve known you that you didn’t try your hardest to work through a problem in front of you. You care so much about the Warehouse. And maybe the fact that you care so much has made it harder for you to accept mistakes you make. But we all make them. And the one thing that you should know, is that no one considers you here a mistake.”
Sandy, much to his chagrin, sniffed. “But what good am I if I can’t manage to move without second guessing myself? Mrs. Frederic picked me...”
“There’s nothing in the world that could take away your value,” Artie hushed him. “We all came to the Warehouse under some mixture of luck, talent, and fate. And if there’s one thing that holds true across all agents, you’re never driven from the Warehouse – only ever guided back.”
Like Leena? Sandy wanted to ask, but couldn't bring himself to speak. Artie seemed to understand, however, and gathered the younger agent in an uncharacteristic hug that seemed to take both agents by surprise.
“We’re family. And that means we’re here for you, no matter what condition you’re in.”
They would grab the artifact. They would save the mayor. They would reattach Zeus’ statue. They would deal with the footage of giant plants. But none of that mattered right now.
Because as of that moment, as Artie beat away the self-deprecating thoughts, Sandy felt more calm than he had in months.
The Creature from the Purple La-Goo-n
Not for the first time in his career as a Warehouse agent, Sandy screamed. But before the sound had even properly escaped his throat, he choked, his stomach heaved, and a slimy mackerel slid out of his mouth and onto the Warehouse floor, flopping in desperate grabs for breath while Sandy tried his very best not to vomit.
Inventory was never supposed to be this complicated.
Sandy’s first week doing inventory all those years ago had been a grab bag of unabashed delight and gripping fear. When one’s world view suddenly expands to include the presence of the very real canoe that belonged to Wahluna of the Nez Perce, or the very deadly Bowl of Sigyn, among millions of others within Warehouse walls and outside, one tends to be star struck.
But as the days, weeks, months, and years went on, Sandy had relaxed in some degrees. Though no less struck speechless by the history and myth that surrounded him, and taking more inventory shifts than any of his fellow agents combined, he no longer walked on eggshells around the shelves as if he were in a mausoleum. The Warehouse, as he had come to know, was a living, breathing thing that wanted him there. Constant trepidation would do him no good.
But as Sandy lay on its concrete floor, unable to stand and surrounded by dying fish that he would belch from his mouth, Sandy briefly wondered exactly how he must have insulted the Warehouse to have earned this punishment.
“Holy mother of-!”
Sandy raised his head and saw what he could barely make out to be the stunned figure of Steve at the end of what used to be the aisle, hastily pulling his shirt over his nose as the stench hit him. Sandy tried to wipe at his mouth with his forearm self-consciously, before realizing his forearm had no bones anymore, and even if it wasn’t jellified, the giant tusks sticking out his mouth would be in the way, and flung his arm down in embarrassment.
This is so gross.
Steve’s Farnsworth started ringing, and Sandy could faintly hear Artie and Claudia’s tinny voices coming from the speaker as Steve described what he was seeing. And even though his hearing was muffled, Sandy’s heart (hearts? God, did he have more than one heart right now?) sunk at the few words he did hear.
Vaguely, Sandy felt the rubble that surrounded him shift, and Steve above him, pushing wooden beams and various artifacts off to the side. The pressure on his legs – or was that a tail? Tails? – moved, and he tried to wriggle free, only resulting in spraying whatever the hell was oozing from his skin around. Steve balked, cringing to avoid the odorous substance. “No, stop! I’ll get you out of there, Sandy, but please for the love of god, don’t splash around!” he yelled.
Sandy stopped, his mortification over the whole situation growing. What kind of idiot made a whole aisle collapse on top of himself during simple inventory? He had only been trying to reach for some artifacts that were out of place, and then something crunched and everything went sideways. He could vaguely recall a few flashes of light and heat as the static electricity in the aisle snapped into action, and his whole body felt bruised – at least the parts he could still properly feel.
“What the hell happened to you, man?” Steve gritted out through clenched teeth as he tried to push a large geode from the pile. Sandy opened his mouth to answer, remembering too late to stop himself, and promptly vomited out an eel.
Hours later, after they successfully pulled Sandy out of the collapsed aisle and neutralized everything in the area, the agent had retreated back to the main office, furiously scrubbing his mouth with a toothbrush and toothpaste that Claudia had thoughtfully provided for him.
“Claudia and Artie are looking at the support beams on that aisle’s shelves,” Steve said as he walked up to Artie’s private area at the top of the office stairs, where Sandy was currently trying to relax on the hammock, noticeably less green than the last time he had seen him, “and though they’ll need more time to assess the full extent of the damage, they figured the shelves were structurally unsound after so much proximity to salt-water artifacts. They were bound to collapse sooner or later.”
Sandy nodded noncommittally, but Steve’s assessing eyes wouldn’t stop staring at him, and he eventually snapped, “I’m fine, Steve.”
Sandy through a pillow at him in response, and the shot went wide. Muttering about his shitty aim and something about Steve’s face, Sandy jumped out of the hammock and paced around the space, before finally giving in to Steve’s unspoken question.
“What on earth did I do to deserve that?”
“What do you mean?”
Sandy stared at Steve incredulously. “What do I mean? I mean, what have I done in this life or one in the past to justify being whammied by three artifacts at once to become something even Lovecraft would have avoided writing about? Or do you not remember I had seven eyes and enough slime dripping of me to fill a swimming pool? Not to mention these!” He wiggled his fingers around his face in an approximation of tentacles.
Steve blanched at the memory, but walked over to him and clamped his hands on Sandy’s shoulders, staring him straight in the eye. “Believe me, I remember. But do you not remember that you were buried under a collapsed aisle? If you hadn’t been affected by those three artifacts specifically, you could have been killed.”
Sandy paused in his pantomime as he considered Steve’s words. It was true, if the shelf had collapsed differently and the crown, saw, and bell hadn’t fallen on him the way they did, there was very little chance he could have survived.
“Those artifacts shouldn’t have even been on that shelf, not unless…” Sandy suddenly remembered, his brow furrowing.
Steve finished his sentence. “Unless the Warehouse moved them to save you.”
“But that’s crazy!”
Steve cocked his eyebrow at Sandy, and gestured out to the Warehouse floor through the office windows. “Pretty sure nothing about this is sane, either,” he said simply.
Sandy followed his hand, and pursed his lips as he stared out the windows. The thought that the Warehouse had somehow managed to move three artifacts to the wrong section to save him was ridiculous, even by Warehouse standards. And if it had, surely it was to save anybody who had been walking that way, not exclusively him. It’s not like he was the only person to ever walk down that aisle during inventory.
Except, Sandy realized with a start, he really was. That had been a route he had walked exclusively for months now, taking over from Pete as a favor and never bothering to hand it back to him.
Sandy felt a smile spread across his features.
He couldn’t wait to get back doing inventory.
Scott gasped and gripped the bed sheet below him with one hand, the other busy pulling on Drake's hair. He kissed hard, deep, and fast, and the man above him returned in kind. With a few more bucks of their hips, They collapsed in a tired heap, sweat covering the bed they lay on.
Drake pulled away from the embrace of their lips and rested his head in the nook of the redhead's neck, trying yo catch his breath from their exhausting activities. "S-Scott... oh, wow... that was great! Heh..."
The teen, who had forgone his glasses for this latest romp, smirked and rubbed Drake's head. "Would you believe me that today's the first day I've done it at all?"
"I don't believe that," the New Zealander said, rolling his eyes as he moved his head into Scott's chest. "Though that would explain the tight fit, geez."
The ginger reached over to Felix's bedside table and put on his glasses, finally able to see clearly. "Now don't see yourself short, Drakey, you were a 'big' factor in that." This made both men chuckle. "Though I'm a little surprised at myself, still so fresh after my first time playing with you. And Alan. And Barton. And Travis. And-"
The mahogany-haired man chuckled again and silenced Scott with a quick peck on his lips. "Okay, okay, I get it. Not to mention Travis and I at the same time, eh? I gotta say kid, you got around today. Such stamina too. I don't know how you managed."
"I have my ways," Scott said in a sultry voice, looking to the hair tie around his wrist as it glowed a light green. "Just so you know Drake, tomorrow you and I have got some business to do, with that trip to Rome..."
The New Zealander nodded, "A'course, we gotta wake up early and get the first plane there." He was still confused as to why they were going, but he found himself completely at this kid's whim. Wrapped around his finger on a little string, he was. But he couldn't help it, Scott was both cute and alluring at the same time. His voice, his attitude, everything about him just enticed him closer and whenever they spent a moment apart he craved more and more each passing second.
Scott reached a hand down the man's body with a smile and rubbed his hips. "Good lad," he grumbled sultrily once again. "You and the others are proving quite the good boys, it won't be long before I get you all collars for uniforms." he winked, half-joking.
Drake blushed and smiled, looking up to kiss Scott again. "Y'know Scott, I know we just met recently, but..."
The ginger raised an eyebrow, waiting for the rest to come.
"I'm just... glad you wanted to do this with me, alone. You haven't done that with the other guys, it makes me feel special. Thank you, it... it means a lot. I like you kid."
Scott remained silent for a short while, his face and body growing red as he almost felt tears well up in his eyes. Sure, the sex was nothing new, far from it, but actually having someone say out loud that they cared about him... that was something new altogether.
It wasn't like nobody else cared about him before now. He knew the Warehouse is his family. Or, well... was. Now all he cared about was Felix. But he didn't even think of Garr- Scott, like that, right? They hardly spoke to one another. He still loved him though, ever since the first day they met. It started out as something small, a tiny schoolboy crush. But the longer he kept it to himself, the longer he watched Felix brave each day in a way that was all his own, a way that just oozed confidence and happiness that just infected everyone around him. Not to mention his intelligence and fondness for animals.
But then again, Scott thought, Drake showed him direct compassion first. And maybe that was the artifact's fault, it did give one the desire for polyamorous relationships. Drake could just be whammied. But, after all these years, after all the shit, Scott loved any attention he got.
And at least for now, even as he plotted to stay alive, find Felix,
"...Thank you, Drake..."
Keep his new 'companions', keep Drake alive and safe from the Warehouse's wrath,
"...thank you so much."
At least someone cared for him at all.
If You Could, Would You?
"A-CHOO!" Artie's sneeze resounded loudly through the Ovoid Quarantine. He bent over with the force of it, and sent his glasses and the purple goggles that covered them a foot or two across the floor.
"You okay Artie?" Garrett asked, putting down a purple box that he had been carrying.
Artie nodded and reached down for the fallen eyepieces, carefully minding his not-so-supple spine. "Yes, just dust." He coughed a few times and waved his hands in front of his face to try and dissipate some of the pesky particles. "This catalog hasn't been touched since they were all nabbed in the 60's. I guess that's what I get for not getting around to them soo-oo-ah-CHOO!" Another sneeze wracked his body mid-word. Thankfully, this time he had a grip on his glasses.
"Maybe you should go out for a minute, let your sinuses clear up." Garrett suggested.
The custodian sniffled and readjusted his glasses. "You sure? Just because we've got all these purple lights here doesn't mean all these artifacts are neutralized."
"I'll be fine," Garrett said with a cheerful smile and a wave of his glove. "I won't let anything break."
Artie knocked on a nearby wooden crate with a wary look, jumping when it knocked back. "Well, good luck. I'll go grab some tissues from my office, call me if you need anything." With a wave goodbye, Artie left through an opening in the large white tent of the area.
Now alone, Garrett went back to sorting through the various unsorted artifacts from decades long since passed. A hatbox, a pair of house slippers, and a box of thumbtacks were among the collection, each with cards that listed their effects. He took the time to read them, some mildly amusing and others downright cringe inducing. He was almost finished with putting the last of the small artifacts into a buggy to go and shelve them when he came across one that caught his eye - a soil knife with a wooden handle and a rather rusty blade.
He picked it up with a furrowed brow and turned it over, not finding any identifying marks, then picked up the paper card attached to it by a string through the hole in its handle. When he read its effects, his eyebrows shot up. Immediately, he thought of a case he had almost pushed out of his mind from several years ago, and a name that went with it...
Quickly glancing around, he hurried, artifact in hand, to the tent's exit and peaked outside. With no sign of Artie, Garrett looked at the card one more time before walking out down the aisles.
After almost half an hour of searching and not really finding anything, he was just about ready to go back to the Ovoid and ask Artie for help, even though he really didn't think that would be a good idea. Nervously biting his lips and thumping the blade's handle against his gloved palm, he paced back and forth in an intersection, debating with himself as to what he should do.
"Is there something I can help you with, Agent Scott?"
Startled, Garrett jumped with a short shout and clutched his chest at hearing Mrs. Frederic's voice behind him so suddenly. He leaned back against a nearby shelf and exhaled slowly.
"Mrs. Frederic, please!" He said desperately, "I may be young but I don't have the healthiest of diets. It's only so long until I have my first heart attack."
Mrs. Frederic had her hands calmly clasped at her waist, purse over a wrist, and an equally calm expression on her face. "I figured you were lost, and had a reason not to use your Farnsworth."
"How did you... I'm, not even gonna ask." Garrett shook his head and stood straight now, the artifact at his side. After a second, he started to fidget a little, not saying anything for several moments before he took a deep breath and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, they flashed green before returning to their normal gray-blue.
"Scott." Mrs. Frederic nodded her head respectively.
Scott reciprocated the gesture. "Sorry about that, Mrs. Frederic. Garrett got nervous at having to talk to you alone, in person about this. I figured I'd save him the trouble and ask you myself. I was in the Ovoid with Artie, getting artifacts ready to shelve, when I found this in one of the boxes." He held up the rusty blade to show her. "This belonged to Arthur Galston, it was collected back in the 60's. I read the storage card and," he took a breath, "and it says it can undo someone's single greatest regret in life."
Mrs. Frederic regarded the artifact silently, so he continued.
"Now, I know we're supposed to shelve these artifacts and warnings can be added to their displays to try and keep artifacts from being misused. Of course, with Pete, those don't always work. But, considering the kind of baggage most of the agents here have, Garrett and myself included, I think this artifact might need something... more. Thing is, I just don't know where to put it."
"Of course." Mrs. Frederic nodded and turned around, then began to walk away.
"W-wait," Scott furrowed his brow and followed after her, "That's it? No, 'Just shelve it like normal', or 'Go ask Arthur'?"
"Just come with me," she replied, "we've a long walk ahead of us."
"Do you think you could just, y'know, pop us over to where we need to be, save us some time?" he asked with a pleading smile, hoping he might finally figure out how she gets around so silently.
Mrs. Frederic smiled, amused. "I'm afraid there are just some secrets a lady simply must keep with her to the grave. Come along now." She tilted her head in the direction she continued walking. Behind her, Scott sulked, but followed along.
After a walk long and winding enough to put most marathoners to shame, the pair finally came across a metal wall with steel rivets and a large covering of rust.
"Huh," Scott said, looking up at the tall wall, "never thought I'd see one of these in here. Uh, why are we here?"
"Patience is a virtue, Mister Scott," Mrs. Frederic said as she opened up her purse and began to dig around in it. "If you don't mind, would you turn around?"
He did as instructed, impatiently leaning back and forth on his feet. Behind him, he heard a series of clicks that wound down in pitch until they ended with the sound of something heavy and metal moving with a drawn out creak, almost like old door hinges. He turned back around to see an opening where before there had been a complete and seamless wall. As he stared in surprise, Mrs. Frederic's voice came out from the other side of the opening.
"Punctuality is also a virtue, Mister Scott, do not dawdle."
He hurried to catch up to her, and once he did, he once again stopped and stared at something new - they were now in a large open space. From the ceiling hung multiple wooden crates bound with rope and suspended at least fifty feet above the floor. Along the wall that had opened up was a grid of safe deposit boxes, not unlike the ones found in the Regent Vault, the only difference being that each had multiple locks, pin code keypads, and scanners. When the two walked over to the grid of boxes, Mrs. Frederic asked Scott to turn around once more as she opened one of them up.
"I believe," she began, holding the door of one box open, "that you'll find these quarters to be adequate for this artifact."
"Thanks, Mrs. F." He replied. "...Frederic. Mrs. Frederic." He corrected himself with a nod, placing the blade into the box. "I would have asked Artie, but every agent here seems to have some regret they'd give their life to fix. Artie with Leena, Pete with his drinking buddy, Claudia with Joshua, Felix with his old fiance." As he listed, he thought of the one thing he would give anything to undo...
A metal cupcake tin lying on a kitchen counter; Felix bound on a table, surrounded by blades; Garrett nosediving to the ground in the middle of the Colosseum; Aden fawning over a random man with a royal belt around his waist; Scott floating midair in the sparring arena, spear in hand, flinging artifact after artifact angrily at Drake and Carl.
"Just think about it." Scott continued. "If Pete undid his car accident, he wouldn't have been convinced to stop drinking, and might still be a drinker today. If Artie hadn't killed Leena, we wouldn't have had Abigail's help with Paracelsus. If Felix hadn't lost his fiance..."
He wouldn't be with me.
"He may not be connected to the bong, but he wouldn't have found the artifacts that led him to being an agent. And without Felix, I wouldn't have gone after not-Oto, and then not-Oto would still be out torturing people..." He looked to the Caretaker, who watched him silently. "I'm rambling, aren't I?"
"All are valid points, yes." She said as she closed the safe deposit box. It beeped, whirred, and clicked closed.
"Mrs. Frederic..." Scott asked tentatively. "If there was something you regretted, would.. would you use the artifact?"
With an expression that said nothing, but meant much, she reached a hand up to her neck and fingered her pearl necklace. "Yes." She answered after a pause. She sighed, then regained her composure. "Which is why Galston's blade will remain here in the Restricted Chamber."
Scott, thankful, nodded his head, unsure of whether now was the right time to walk away.
"I am reminded," she continued, "of something my sister once told me, when we were younger. Much younger... That our tragedies help define us. Without them, we would not know how to handle grief. We would not learn from mistakes. That we would not know how to help others avoid the same follies, or how to help them cope with them. So as much as we may want to undo our mistakes, Mister Scott," she took a step forward and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "It is often times best not to."
Scott nodded as a smile grew on his face. "Thank you, Mrs. Frederic. Now, if you'll excuse me," he took a deep breath, "I... I think there are some people I need to apologize to."
The Dating Game
"I don't know Pete, it's a pretty small town."
Steve sat apprehensively on the B&B sofa next to Pete, who was busily tapping away at his coworker's phone.
"Trust me man," he replied. "There are loads of gay guys in this town. Every time I go on a donut run people are turning to stare at me." He leaned back and puffed out his chest. "All the guys and gals can't get enough of this." he said.
Steve rolled his eyes. "They think we're the IRS. Is it desire or murderous intent?"
"All attention is good attention, Jinksy." This got another eye roll as Steve slumped back onto the sofa. "Ok, now what are your interests?" he asked, the tapping paused as he waited for the reply.
Steve let out a long breath while he thought. "I guess...baseball? Cooking? My job?"
"Wow, barrels of fun." said Pete, diligently typing something into the phone. "Now dislikes. Drugs, criminals, omnicidal maniacs?" he ventured, smiling like the goofball he was.
This got a side-eye from Steve, who sat back up and rested his elbows on his knees. "I'm telling you, this is a waste of time. I don't do well with relationship stuff, and even if I did find someone how would I explain what I do? The Warehouse isn't exactly a good thing to start dating around."
"There's me and Myka." Pete pointed out.
"You guys worked together for ages before you started dating. I don't really have a partner to get close to...in that way."
Pete thought for a moment. "What about that new guy, Felix? Tyler said he was into dudes."
Steve raised an eyebrow. "Get the former ATF with a magical drug addict?"
"Point taken..." Pete frowned. "Aden? He's never mentioned a girl before."
"Asexual. And that culty thing he has makes me a bit weirded out."
"Well what about Tyler then? If Felix nearly got him he can't be 100% straight, right?"
"Pete, he's been dating Nikki for months now."
Pete's eyebrows went up. "Oh, really. Can't believe I missed that."
Steve threw his hands up. "Face it Pete, in this job you either get lucky with a coworker or you die alone. I'm sort of at peace with that by now. Relationships were never my thing anyway."
"Hey, not true!" Pete replied flicking through Steve's phone with a smile. "You've got a match in Featherhead. Kind of hot, no drugs, no drinking...oh." Pete's face fell. "No blacks. He's a racist. Bummer." He looked over at Steve, who had slumped back into the sofa. "Yeah, so dating is hard in this line of work, but it can happen. I got Myka. Tyler has Nikki...apparently. Even Artie and Vanessa ended up together. It's not totally hopeless."
Steve pulled himself up, plucking his phone out of Pete's hand. "I really appreciate the effort, seriously. But some people find a soulmate and others die on the job, come back to life and almost kill their mother. I think we both know which camp I'm in there." He turned to leave when his phone chimed.
"Another match?" Pete asked, his tone endlessly optimistic.
"N...no. It's a text from Liam."
Pete's forehead scrunched in thought. "Liam...Liam...wait! Hot U.S. Marshal Liam that I never got to meet?"
Steve lips curled into a small smile. "Yeah, that Liam. I got to go take care of this." he said, dashing out of the room.
"Wait, man!" Pete called after him. "Give me the deets!"
As Steve read over the short text, he felt something click in his mind. Yeah, the Warehouse made love hard. Never know when the next supervillian will target your loved ones or you'll be wiped out by a rogue artifact. But Pete had a point about it not being totally hopeless, the Warehouse had a weird way of bringing people together. And maybe it even gave second chances?
Hey Steve, my boss wants a follow up report on the Barton case from last year. Questions I can't answer without more questions. I'm in Featherhead for a few days, want to meet up for coffee or something and "talk"?
Risks on Highway 101
"So we're looking for a phantom motorbiker?" Blaine said as he flpped through the case file from the passenger seat of the Prius, "You have any idea of what it could be?"
Tyler rolled his eyes as he drove, "My abilities don't work like that, I have to actually see the artifact in action before I can pin an origin on it. My best guess at the moment is Ghost Rider's Motorbike. Beyond we'll have to go talk to some of the people who were caught up in the road rage."
Blaine and Tyler had been sent to England to track down tales of a mysterious phantom motorcyclist who had been running people off the road and nearly causing wrecks. At the same time, Blaine had taken an interest in the H.A.R.P. member's special abilities to see how they activated and were influenced by various artifacts, and Tyler had slowly been getting tired of Blaine's confusing questions.
"Speaking of road rage," Blaine's eyes were glued to the side mirror, "I think we're about to have company!"
Glancing up into the rear-view mirror, Tyler caught glimpse of a dark, smokey motorbiker following them, nearly riding their bumper, "Well...there's not enough pyrotechinics for it to Ghost Rider, but something about it..." Tyler's thought were cut short by the Prius jostling as the cyclist rear-ended them, spinning them into the ditch.
Getting out of the car as the bike sped past, Blaine sweared at him, "Seriously? We haven't even began the investigation and the artifact has already attacked us!"
Climbing out, Tyler held his forehead, "Hush it...I think I just had a karaoke flashback."
Blaine looked at his co-worker from across the car, "Come again?"
"When Matt and Bri collected Leroy Brown's Coat, my co-workers at the ice cream parlor overheard me singing it and 'Piano Man'. Needless to say, the dragged me along to Karaoke several times afterwards, and one of the songs sung was one from the 50s called 'Black Denim Jeans'. The song was about a rebellious biker...He wore black demin trousers and motorcycle boots, and a black leather jacket with an eagle on the back. He had a hunk of 'cycle that took off like a gun; that fool was the terror of Highway 101..."
A few days had past since they had encountered 'The Terror of Highway 101', Blaine and Tyler had tracked down the suspect's girlfriend (He had a pretty girlfriend by the name of Mary Lou, but he treated her just alike he treated all the rest), and were now laying in wait for him to visit her again (Mary Lou, poor girl, she pleaded and begged him not to leave, she said, "I've got a feeling that if you ride tonight I'll grieve"). Their plan to ambush him failed, causing the man to flee her house on a motorcycle that appeared out of thin air.
Tyler ran to a man who was passing by on his own motorbike and flashed his H.A.R.P. badge, "Government Business, I need your bike." While the confused man got off his bike, Blaine rushed to Tyler.
"What the hell are you doing? Do you even know how to ride one of these things?"
Tyler shook his head, "No, but if I don't catch up, that guy will die!" Blaine just stared at him, causing Tyler to sigh and sing, "But he hit a screamin' diesel that was California-bound, but when they cleared the wreckage all they found..."
Blaine still looked worried, "But you don't know how to-" but his everyword was lost in the rumble of the engine and the smoke of the exhaust.
Back at the Warehouse, Tyler was shelving the foldedBlack Denim Trousers, "Create a phantasmical motorbike for the wearer to ride and increases the rider's sense for danger. Downside: Collision with a diesel truck resulting in the death of the wearers..."
As he got off the ladder, Bri clung to his arm, "So, I hear that you went daredevil to get those. Why did you bother to chase him down on a motorbike instead of the Prius?"
Tyler smiled, "The risk of a multi-car pileup and death of an innocent man was greater than that of my own life. Anyway, it's not like the Prius is Speed Racer, there would've been no way for me to catch up in the car."
Question of the Ages
More ink flew threw the air, splattering at the Tyler's feet, "Look, I'm happy Nintendo finally has a new IP, but I think the hype went a bit overboard. I hope this stuff washes out..."
Tyler, Bri, Megan, and Joe had been tasked with collecting a set of Splatoon weapons. Turns out that the four weapons that were used during the Global Test-Fire had manifested into reality. Originally it had just been a group of kids messing up their town, but someone had managed to steal it from the kids and were now using them to rob banks.
Bri ducked as the Splatcharger launched a stream of aqua ink over her head, "Not the time Ty, we can shower up once we get back to the hotel, until then-" She had gotten up, only to receive a face full of the ink.
Looking at her, he chuckled, "Looks like light blue is your color hun."
Taking cover, she wiped the ink out of her eyes and gave him a look, "If we weren't sleeping together, then I'd have half a mind to-"
"Either get a room or get the artifacts!" Joe yelled to the HARP consultants as he was running from a robber pushing a giant paint roller.
Pulling out the Huitzilopochtli Necklace, Bri felt the rush of energy fill her. Breaking from cover, she evaded the first blast and then sprinted for the user. As the robber attempted to fire again, she slid across the ink-slick floor on her knees, going under the second blast. Once next to him, she kicked her leg out, causing him to crash to the floor. Kicking the artifact away, she nodded to the others.
Tyler smiled. It was Bri's combination of courage, smarts, and calm mind that made him love her. They had been living together for the last year, and unless you were looking for a ring, you would have thought that they were already married. "My girlfriend the badass."
Joe left his now incapacitated thug and joined Megan's cover as she pumped the Neutralizer Shotgun up. Looking to him, the newer agent asked, "Are they always this lovey on missions together?"
Joe shook his head, "Not really...typically they manage to keep the romance out of work. I heard that last time they were like this, Tyler and Bri started sharing a bedroom. I think that Tyler has something on his mind...and it's not the mission."
Megan shrugged and popped out of cover and fired a shot off at the fourth robber, nailing him square in the chest and sending sparks flying.
After a few more minutes, the final robber was down. Gathering up the four weapons: Splattershot, Splattershot Jr., Splatcharger, and the Splatroller, the bagged them up.
As soon as the artifacts were secure, the former thief questioned Tyler, "You weren't on your game today, in fact this whole mission your mind has been somewhere else. All you were able to do is tell is it was ink we were going after. What's going on?"
Tyler took a deep breath, "You're right Joe...I haven't been at my best these last few weeks. I've been dealing with a personal issue for a bit now, and I think you guys have the right to know."
Megan raised an eyebrow, "Can't this wait until after we get back to the hotel and wash up?"
The HARP Consultant shook his head, "No...if I do that, then I don't think I'll have the guts to do this." He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small box. "Bri...when we started at HARP we were total strangers, but I learned to trust your intuition and now look at us, we've saved the world time after time again. It hasn't always been easy, whether it be me almost loosing my soul or you almost loosing yourself to the whip, but we managed to make it through, stronger than ever before."
As he said this, he slid down to one knee and opened the small box, revealing an aquamarine ring, "Bri, will you stay at my side no matter what the Warehouse throws our way?"
Bri was shocked and took a small step back, trying to hold back the tear. Silence filled the ink covered bank as the other two agents watched in anticipation.
"Yes." Bri said, tears of joy streaming down her face, "Yes Tyler, I will marry you!" She leaped forward and hugged him causing Tyler to slip and sending them both into the ink.
"Hey! Careful!" Tyler said as he hugged her back, "Don't get the ring dirty!"
Megan again looked at Joe, "So...have Warehouse agents really ever gotten married before?"
"I'm not sure about you, but I think most of us are married to the work." Joe said looking at the newly engaged couple on the floor, "But I think that the work is why they're together."