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 vault will be locked to memory additions.
ATTENTION ALL AGENTS; the Vault is Closed. The vault will reopen next year.
God Tier Regents
It was several days after Aden had discovered that new God Tiers were being created, almost a year after he had joined the Warehouse. The Ascendere had been planned, and the two Regents who were to oversee the council had requested to become ones as well.
"Are you positive, sir?" Aden asked, holding a Sburb copy in his gloved hand. "I mean... Sburb is a nightmare to play..."
"Yes, Agent Taylor and Consultant Miguel... I am VERY sure."
Juan nodded. "So, you know your Titles?"
"Knight of Blaze, yes." The male Regent nodded.
"And Maid of Splash." replied the female.
"Now, Splash, the Aspect of Water and Change, and Blaze, Fire and Power, have only been acquired by one other person each, so please be careful." Juan warned.
The Regents nodded in response.
"Let us begin." Aden set the disks down on the table, and the three touched them gently. With a flash of light at the detonation of a meteor in their ears, they stood on a volcanic world and one that looked submerged.\.
Aden and Juan guided him through the session and assisting in his Ascension to the God Tier Knight of Blaze and Maid of Splash. Naturally, the battle ended swiftly by incinerating the King and draining him dry.
After the game deactivated, the regent wore the coif and cape of a Knight. "Hail, Knight of Blaze! Hail, Maid of Splash!"
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. " 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."
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 folded Black 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."
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..."
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 childs play. Without distrubing 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 recieved 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. "Dont 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 arifact 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 Eurekas greatest minds. Now it was being used to create one. Felix watched the monitor carefully as a 3D model of Garrett was rendered into existance. 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 onwards.
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 concensus. The form of the fox stretched suddenly, fur receeding and limbs stretching until it took the form of Garrett Scott. Naked and shivering, but alive.
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."
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...
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."
"I can't ever get a decent nap, can I?!" Rick yelled as he quickly flipped over a crate to dodge a strike from a Rajput warrior.
"Relax, new guy. Errr...it'll get easier?" Felix shrugged, parrying a thrust from Alexander the Great. In a circular dojo, the other Warehouse agents dualed with a variety of warriors.
(insert what Aden would say), my God-tier powers aren't working!" the young agent yelled as he tripped over a swing from a Shaolin Monk's bo staff. TBA the rest
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.
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..."
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.
((Story Title Here))
"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?"
Scott gasped and gripped the bedsheet 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.
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."
"You have the ability to speak with animals and affect the emotions of others."
"What? I can't affect the emotions of others! I mean, I kind-of started a fight when I was younger, but I wasn't involved in it!"
"It is a subtle effect, not noticeable unless you have . . . my talents."
"Well, what would the government want with me?" Megan felt very confused, but also slightly intrigued. "Why would they need my emotion-guiding thing or my ability to understand animals?"
"To give you a chance to help others. Maybe even some ideas to write a good fan fiction story. And most importantly, introduce you to a world of endless wonder."
The next day, 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. It almost felt like something was calling to her. 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. "Helloooooo! Anyone here?"
She walked up to the door, but she wasn't sure whether or not she should knock. As she was about to knock, a voice called out behind 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. What fish? This place looked completely deserted, but maybe there was a lake nearby with a 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."
At this point Megan wasn't going to ask how he knew about her allergies. She was just happy to get cookies. This man seemed nice enough, at least. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad working here, whatever here was. Normally she wouldn't speak to someone she had just met, but seeing as he appeared to be her new boss, she wanted to make a good first impression.
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, very concerned. "Wow! There must be something worth protecting here! What is it, aliens? Bigfoot?"
"Oh, please," Artie said as they walked into his office. "Almost all of the alien sightings are falsified, and Bigfoot is just a person who isn't able to be cured from an encounter in the 1200s. He keeps himself hidden, though, and he has family now, so we don't bother to pay attention to the reports? Now, are you a milk or juice person?"
"Well, 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.
"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. 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 mentioned that this was a place of endless wonder."
"Well, it is indeed. 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?"
"Well, let me show you," 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 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 was stored here and what her job was going to be, she felt more and more at home. They even had a Convention Aisle (though she was told there not to touch the artifacts). She was very excited to get started, but Artie told her she needed to learn from the other agents before she could get started.
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 fit in. 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, but at around eight o’clock that night she heard a ringing sound. Several minutes later, there was a knock on her door. Six people walked in; four males and two females.
"Hey, you must be the new agent!" one of the males said. "Aren't you going to join us for supper?"
Megan remained silent; she felt uncomfortable with so many new faces around her.
"Guys, I think she's rather nervous," one of the females said. "She's clenching her lip slightly. No need to be nervous. I'm Myka, and these others are Pete, Aden, Felix, Claudia and Steve. We're some of the other agents at Warehouse 13."
"And I'm the best of the lot!" Pete added. "Well, Myka and I are the best of the lot. We have more experience than the rest of them." Everyone rolled their eyes.
"Why don't you join us for supper?" Aden asked. "We can all introduce ourselves properly over a nice warm meal."
Megan slowly got up and walked down with them. She didn't speak to them that night, but she felt they were all so honest and true that the next morning she eagerly talked about herself in front of them all. For the first time in her life, she felt like she had a true 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 several months 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."