Keeping Order [closed]

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illirica
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Keeping Order [closed]

Post by illirica » Thu Dec 27, 2018 2:44 pm

Location: L-14
Asset: ACF-833 "Anchor"
Time: Present
Purpose: Mandated Security Checks
Today had been good. There had been no escapes. It was always a risk, with Anomalies. Sometimes they needed to be recontained. Sometimes they tried to take people with them, when they went. Laine Cantrille did not like losing people. She did not like losing anomalies, either. She was very diligent about it, wandering quietly through the containment areas, carefully checking on each and every one of them, filling out the paperwork precisely and neatly. She liked paperwork. It was very organized. Very diligent. Of course, these days, most of the "paperwork" was electronic. Laine liked that less. Paperwork - real paperwork - was important. It was tangible. It stayed where you put it - it didn't wander off into a database somewhere. Of course, electronic paperwork always came back when it was wanted, but there was always the question of what it had been doing while it was gone. Who it had been with. What they might have done.

No, she liked hard copies better. The Foundation didn't always want hard copies, but Laine always made them. If the Foundation didn't want them, she took them home. Since "home" was a tiny apartment within the Foundation not so different from some of the other rooms where anomalies were kept, the Foundation permitted it. Indeed, she was in the same place as most of them. It made getting to work easy, and she liked to be there, so that she knew where everything was. Organization was important.

ACF-1022 on one of the shelves ticked from All Quiet On The Western Front to Fly Away Home when she glanced at it. Laine thought that the odd clock seemed fond of her, for an anomaly. It was harmless but strange, not so much telling the time as the situation - which, for some reason, it only displayed as film titles. It usually made sure to give her some sort of indication while she was looking at it. Right now it was time to go home. She recorded the change of "time" on her paperwork and closed the file folder, then walked the three corridors back to her own quarters. A time sheet was posted beside the door, and she recorded her name and entry time before going inside.

The "living room" was more an office than anything else, with filing cabinets along one wall, each drawer neatly displaying the label My Papers, with a series of dates. She carried today's papers over to the most recent, tucking them tidily in among the other papers she had claimed as her own. The opposite wall was lined with two slender tables. The first of them held an aquarium, within which cantered a pink-and-purple My Little Pony toy, neatly labeled ACF-011-LP. It trotted up to the glass to view her entry, which was made more difficult by the fact that the glass had been additionally labeled ABANDONED ABANDONED ABANDONED ABANDONED, repeating quite precisely across the entire glass surface in black permanent marker.

Beside the aquarium rested a basketball, neatly labeled Keeping Score and covered in numbers: 255 666 255 255 666 666 666 666. The other table held similar oddities, but in general the things on the tables were of less note than the walls. A glass case held a beautiful specimen of a black swallowtail butterfly, which was labeled with C'est à moi Papillon. Mostly, though, the walls were covered with feathers, each one displayed vertically and pinned carefully to the wall with a thumbtack. They were of all different varieties, and each one was carefully labeled in marker written on the wall beside it along the vertical axis, but the labels were not the type - rather, they were odd statements like why? / no / she's gone / why? / where are you? / come back / no no no / why?

This was, of course, precisely as it needed to be. Proper labeling was important.

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Re: Keeping Order [closed]

Post by Containment » Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:08 pm

Location: L-14
Asset: ACF-255-A "Code red"
Time: Present
Purpose: Location-approved research
Cody had been back for about two hours when the system crashed.

As a member of Leviathan staff still, he'd known ahead of time about the systematic scrub that Hack would be doing of all systems. He'd just forgotten that it would be taking place today, almost as soon as he'd gotten back from New York. Almost everybody knew what he'd been out there to do, but almost nobody had seen him since he'd arrived at L-14, mostly because he'd gone straight down to his office to do some research. His arrival had been postponed due to the Deterrence situation and some... complications at L-212. He hadn't even had the chance to see Isaac yet.

He'd kept himself busy since he came back, too. The research of former R-Class-C Alexis Charleton for some reason felt like a priority now that he'd seen her, a priority, he felt, that could be vital to the reconstruction of the Foundation. If anomalies could be given to trusted agents instead of "properly contained," if more Household and even Risky items could be used in fieldwork... rebuilding could go along a lot faster.

Then the servers crashed for cleaning, and Cody was left with just about nothing to do. The Foundation didn't like paper files, after all. They could be stolen, couldn't always be watched, could be destroyed with vital information, and had to be constantly replaced. He stared at his screen, blank except for the silver Foundation symbol of a circle pierced by three arrows, and wondered whether it would be really worth going to bed at- what time was it, anyway? He stood up and rubbed his face. What even was time. An annoyance, mostly. He shook his head to clear it, then stood still.

Of course there was a paper file for both Alexis and her anomaly on site. He grabbed 255 off the desk and fastened it around his neck, and shut the light off on his way out. She'd probably be irritated by the fact he wanted to remove something from her room, but Cody knew that as long as everything was returned, in order and unharmed, she'd be alright with it, in the end. At least, Cody was pretty sure that was a safe assumption.

He took a few shortcuts to unit L-14-833, the apartment of the security agent called "Anchor." A lot of younger agents found working with Anchor a bit odd. Overbearing, even. But even though he was younger, and technically the same staff level, Cody had some authority over her as the location's head of research. He just had to hope she was in a good mood.

He arrived without any complications, no other researchers in the hall and all other security staff on duty in security mode. Still no sign of Isaac, but he could stop by to see his friend and co-head of the location later. Right now, he was doing his half of the job- that was to say, research.

He knocked, loudly and clearly. He could open the unit himself if he wanted, but he didn't see any need to. "Agent Cantrille? Are you in?" he asked, though he was well aware that she was. He waited semi-impatiently, mentally practicing what he was about to ask of her.
"The Foundation doesn't have the freedom to be good or bad. We're here to do our job, and if we have to make or break a few rules to do that job then so be it." [Current SV-1, "Leviathan"]

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Re: Keeping Order [closed]

Post by illirica » Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:30 pm

Laine was curled up in an armchair with a rather well-worn paperback fantasy novel that had been written for middle schoolers, when a knock on the door interrupted her thoughts. She stared at the book for a minute, then flipped back to the beginning of the chapter and carefully placed a bookmark inside, leaving it on the arm of the chair and going over to open the door.

"Oh!" she said, surprised but seeming positive about it. "Two fifty-five!" She smiled, reaching out to brush her fingers across Cody's chest where the medallion lay tucked underneath his jacket. It was lovely, she knew, a beautiful thing of red and gold. She'd filed several reports about it, of course, and hoped to add it to the collection soon enough, but the orders had always been that it was to remain with Agent Redd.

Laine looked up, meeting Cody's eyes for the first time and inquiring, hopefully, "Will it be staying?" That would be nice, if she could add it to the collection. Her anomalous ability tugged at both man and medallion, an echo of stay stay stay pulling at them. Without proper clearance, though, she hadn't amped the ability up to its full potential; it was only a passing hint, still powerful enough to be noticed, but not enough to force any particular outcome.

"Hmm... come in, Agent Redd," she decided, "Welcome to My apartment. Is there something I can help you with?"

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Re: Keeping Order [closed]

Post by Containment » Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:47 pm

Cody was all too familiar with her request for his medallion to stay. She liked it, a lot, in fact, enough to wish to add it to her collection here, but rules were rules. Still, he smiled back, touching it himself to make sure it was still there. "Not today, sorry. I still need it for my research. Maybe someday, though."

He stepped inside at her invitation, taking everything in at a glance. The rooms eccentricities weren't the worst he'd seen, and at least it was orderly eccentricity rather than the chaos that had always been Butterfly's office or Strings' paperwork. He could accept that people did their research... differently. But while he wasn't exactly OCD about his own work and stuff, at least he knew how to keep it where it belonged.

Abandoned abandoned abandoned abandoned, read the tank holding the pink-and-purple toy brought to life by Kaylie, ACF-011. Neatly labelled, like everything else. A butterfly, something Cody was all too used to, though this one felt different from Butterfly's specimens. Just an ordinary swallowtail. The basketball and its numbers... well, he wasn't quite sure he'd seen it before, but he'd only been head of research here for a few months, and this was a pretty big location for a level-2. There would probably always be new anomalies he'd never noticed before. Based on the numbers, it seemed to be keeping track of every game he'd played with Bessie, or at least the last -- a pause for mental tally -- eight or nine. He hadn't realized just how badly he'd been doing lately. He blamed recent distractions for that.

He stood near the wall with the feathers, barely offering their labels a glance. He knew Laine didn't like losing things, or people, and many things and people alike had been lost quite recently in the Breach. The "where are you?" and the neatly aligned "abandoned" on the pony's case could apply to anyone, or anything. Laine had lost things before, too, but she'd taken it well when told that either they were unavailable. That's why the Foundation kept her around, after all. She could be understanding if she wanted to be, and if she didn't, she could be convinced, or at least some form of explanation had always been enough in the past.

"I was in the middle of some research when SV-four decided to start his latest server cleaning. My fault for forgetting what time he was going to start, but it's important I finish reading through it." He stopped, and took a deep breath. "You wouldn't happen to have anything on former researcher Dr. Alexis Charleton and her research, or on ACF-three-ninety, would you? And would I be able to borrow it? I'll return it tomorrow at the latest, as soon as the system's back online."
Last edited by Containment on Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"The Foundation doesn't have the freedom to be good or bad. We're here to do our job, and if we have to make or break a few rules to do that job then so be it." [Current SV-1, "Leviathan"]

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Re: Keeping Order [closed]

Post by illirica » Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:06 pm

"Oh." There were a lot of undertones, for one syllable. Laine watched him, her gaze skittering over him and across the wall, catching on the feathers. "Why?" she echoed the labels, softly, in an indeterminate voice that was impossible to tell if it was addressed to him, or to herself. "She's gone." Laine blinked, then shook her head.

"I have-" She hesitated, then determined, "Yes." She crossed the room to the filing cabinets, opening one and taking out a manila file folder, neatly labeled [REDACTED], just like every other file in her cabinets. Apparently she knew which one it was, though, because she set it neatly on the table. On the outside, it looked like any other file, but the inside of the folder was a different story entirely. There was, of course, the very tidy report on Dr. Alexis Charleton, but every margin of the paper had been filled with the familiar, precise writing: She went away. She left. She was mine and she went away. They let her go. She is not here. She is gone. Where is she? She is not here. She is taken away. Come back. Come back. Come back. Come back. Come back. Why? Similar statements covered every margin of every page in the report, though the information itself had been left alone, as if she couldn't bear to write over the neatly organized file.

Comparatively speaking, the file on ACF-390 was much less annotated, but the folder contained in addition to the usual report a single laminated page of bird feathers, all neatly arrayed beside one another as if on a grid. "These are the files. I need you to bring my things back. Will you bring my things back? They need to be here."

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Re: Keeping Order [closed]

Post by Containment » Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:22 pm

He noticed her mood swing downward, and understood why. Her anomalous ability not only caused things to stay with her; it made her want to stay with her things. An attachment, not even an emotional one, just a necessary one. Cody kind of got that, but not really. Not the same way.

"I'm looking into her research on how anomalies, agents, and researchers could all interact on the field," he said, to break the uncomfortable silence he'd let develop between them. He picked the file up off the desk with a smile. "Thanks. And don't worry, I'll bring it back. Like I said, it might not be until tomorrow, but if something comes up I'll send someone to get you."

He opened the file for a typical, cursory glance, habit more than anything, but his eyes fell into the margins, and his face changed. It was a subtle change, like a change of key in a familiar song. Boyish, casual Cody gave way to the authoritative and slightly concerned researcher Dr. Redd. The feathers, the file, now it made sense. It'd been before Redd's time, but he was well aware that Laine had worked with Alexis for... well, a while before she was assigned the mask, and then was assigned to her security detail after her demotion to Class-A.

"Will you bring my things back? I need them here."

Something in her voice... something said it was more than just the file she wanted back. Maybe the rumor of his trip to New York City hadn't spread as much as he'd thought. For some reason, he was relieved by that, though he couldn't quite put his finger on why. He nodded again, closing the file more slowly and cautiously than he'd opened it.

"I'll bring this back when I'm done with it," he said again, more reserved than before.
"The Foundation doesn't have the freedom to be good or bad. We're here to do our job, and if we have to make or break a few rules to do that job then so be it." [Current SV-1, "Leviathan"]

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Re: Keeping Order [closed]

Post by illirica » Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:46 pm

"I know," she acknowledged. She wasn't worried about the file. Agent Redd had never misplaced one of her things - and the files were meant to be used. They were meant to be looked at. They were her files, but they were still files. Laine was privately a bit amused by the fact that someone actually wanted them. Electronics were good, but files were... needed. She was glad she kept them. Someone ought to, after all.

If it had been any other file, she probably would have been quite enthusiastic about the prospect, maybe even written up a report about the usefulness of proper files when the system went down - but it wasn't just any file, it was her file. That made a difference. She watched the other Agent, cautiously. He had been out somewhere today, she'd heard. New York? New Jersey? One of those cities. She hadn't seen a report yet - she would know, once she read a report. She'd been busy today, though, cataloguing things.

And now, at the end of the day, he came to her and asked for that file, of all of them. He had been gone today. Where had he been? Who had he been with? What had he been doing?

Had he brought anything back? "You were gone today." It wasn't really an accusation, because he'd come back, after all. It was perfectly fine to leave, as long as one came back. "Did you bring anything back?" Anything. Anyone. Laine was watching him, cautiously. She wasn't stupid - the Foundation had little use for stupid people, after all. She was perfectly capable of making connections. He had been gone, and now he wanted that file. "Where is she?"

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Re: Keeping Order [closed]

Post by Containment » Thu Dec 27, 2018 11:38 pm

Redd didn't tense, or really react at all to the implied accusations. "I've been gone for a few days, Laine," he answered, dropping formality a little. "Since the Rome incident. I've been busy." Busy doing this research. Busy trying to find excuses not to get recalled to L-7, where he knew Leviathan would want him and Pollux to get... reacquainted. Busy trying not to think about the implications of the organization called Deterrence. Just keeping busy.

Alexis was a priority to Laine. Cody knew this, and acknowledged it. But to him, at least for now, this file, this search, was just a distraction from the heavier problems of the Foundation in general, and him, specifically. He really didn't need another problem on his plate. Explaining to Laine was something that required some time and a clear head. Redd didn't have either right now.

I'll have Cotta deal with it.

It was a little selfish, but he had a feeling Isaac would understand. Besides, Laine fell into Cotta's jurisdiction as an agent, rather than Cody's as a researcher. And Isaac would be looking for something to take his mind off recent events, too.

"I don't know where she is, and no, nothing came back with me." He kept it vague and honest - he had no idea where she'd gone after leaving his office two or three days before. Technically, he wasn't lying. He gave her a nod and stepped closer to the door. "Thanks again, Agent. I'll be back tomorrow with these." He turned away from her, hand going subconsciously to 255 under his coat. It was useless, here, but touching the anomaly gave him a sense of closure. Especially with the look the other anomaly was giving him.

He had to get out before she made him stay.
"The Foundation doesn't have the freedom to be good or bad. We're here to do our job, and if we have to make or break a few rules to do that job then so be it." [Current SV-1, "Leviathan"]

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Re: Keeping Order [closed]

Post by illirica » Thu Dec 27, 2018 11:49 pm

Laine nodded, then seemed to relax a little. "You're welcome." He didn't have anything of hers except for the file, so there was no reason to keep him there. "I hope you find what you're looking for."

ACF-390 was still out there somewhere. So was Alexis. Both of those were good things. She worried about them. They were together, and she was worried that someone might just try to bring one of them back. She wanted them both back. She didn't think the Foundation understood, sometimes, that they needed to bring them both back. It was probably that fact which had been keeping her going, since the Breach - she couldn't push the issue, because the Foundation might be willing to recover only one of them.

That wasn't... tidy. Laine had to let them stay out there, for now - but some day, she wanted them back. Agent Redd... either knew more than he was letting on, or was about to. She'd have to pay more attention to what he was doing - even if he wasn't exactly hers. Not yet, anyway.

She watched him leave, thoughtfully, then shook her head and went back to her book.

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Re: Keeping Order [closed]

Post by Containment » Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:19 am

"Redd!"

Cotta sounded excited, happy, but tired. Understandably so. He was actually a bit younger than Cody, and yet he technically had more responsibilities. The Foundation wouldn't have given him that much if they didn't know he could handle it, though. He'd been through a lot, seen a lot, and was pretty content to settle in to a higher-class job if the worst he had to do was paperwork. Even that was off the table, though, what with Hack's update and cleaning of the systems.

"Hey, Isaac. How's it been without me?" Cody sounded as tired as Cotta felt, but other than that he seemed okay. Unharmed, at least, which was always a bonus after any kind of fieldwork.

"Quiet, it'd be nice if things just settled down, right?" Isaac laughed, but even that seemed weary. He changed the subject. "How was New York?"

Cody took a deep breath, then shook his head. "It was alright. I've gotta talk to Laugh about something, but more importantly..." He looked down.

"You found her, didn't you? But she's not back." Cotta knew his friend too well. A glance at the files in Cody's hand told the rest. "And Laine knows now, too."

"Yep."

A moment of silence. Then Isaac nodded, half to himself. "I'll handle it tomorrow. I assume that's when you said you'd be getting those back to her?"

"Yeah." He flipped the top file open again. "Hey, mind if I give you an opinion? Just to think about."

"I'm listening."

"Well, two opinions. One is if we do find three-ninety-A and bring her back here I think we might want to keep her around as a researcher rather than a class-A. Just something to think about."

"You talked to her?" Cotta sounded curious.

"Yeah. And I think she misses this place, despite everything that's going on right now."

Another nod, slower this time. "Okay. What's the other thing."

"Her research. I think it's worth testing it out. Bring the different branches together and see what it gets us."

Cotta gave the Red Medal a glance, then back up at Cody. "Charleton's research has more to do with low-level Leviathans or Riskies rather than Households like those. It'll take a little more than paperwork to get that idea to the council the right way."

"I know. Like I said, just a thought." He looked back at the file, then nodded again. "I'll get to reading through this over. Don't want to get it back to Laine late."

"No, I guess not," Isaac mused, watching his friend go. He didn't have the heart, at least not tonight, to let him know Leviathan was recalling him within the week. He'd let the researcher rest, get through his work, then let SV-1 know when Cody was ready, not vice versa. She'd understand, or so he hoped.
_____

Cotta went along Laine's routine security path, rather than to her room, in hopes of catching her on the move where they'd both have some freedom to think and talk, and work, while talking and thinking. He was her superior officer, after all, and though he thought of himself as a pretty ordinary guy he knew what it was like to be alone in a room with a higher-rank agent discussing a delicate subject. He caught sight of her outside the now-empty L-14-707 unit, where Butterfly used to store... well, his butterflies. He half-trotted toward her.

"Anchor! Agent Cantrille!" Not too loud, not too fast, she was a trained security agent, after all. Though he was pretty good at hand-to-hand starting a fight, or even a potential fight, was never the ideal option with one's own assets. He'd pull himself to match her pace when he got to her side, and hand her the files Cody had finished going through the night before. "Redd wanted me to get these back to you. He's caught up in some stuff right now, and I had some time to kill. And... I wanted to check up on you, Laine. We haven't really talked before, and as you're a pretty necessary asset here I wanted to get to know you better."
"The Foundation doesn't have the freedom to be good or bad. We're here to do our job, and if we have to make or break a few rules to do that job then so be it." [Current SV-1, "Leviathan"]

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