Administrative Career Fluctuations [Closed]

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illirica
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Administrative Career Fluctuations [Closed]

Post by illirica » Fri May 29, 2020 6:28 pm

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Assets:
Harry Thompson, N-Class-C, “Should have seen that one coming”
Robin McKinney, A-Class-C, “Fledgling”

Location: Plainsville Redaction Zone

Time: Too Early For This

Purpose: Shameless Promotion
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There were many reasons why Harry Thompson was the one here. They had been explained to him in detail. He had already decided that he was going to have to write a paper about the anomalous “Rhetorical Question” and why it wasn’t meant to be answered. Unfortunately, he hadn’t had a chance to do that yet, because the Foundation kept finding - as they informed him - better uses for his time.

Why me?

As Harry was the Foundation’s foremost expert on the subject of the Rhetorical Question, he didn’t answer that, even in the privacy of his own mind. He’d actually been having a relatively normal week, too, getting caught up on paperwork and making sure L-14 was running smoothly and daydreaming about the day when the Foundation would finally tell him his tenure as “Acting Location Manager” was up and they’d found some other poor idiot to do the job.

He was painfully aware that this daydream of his was as unlikely as many of the ones he’d had as a child, most of which had involved dragons. On the other hand, he’d actually met one of those, so maybe there was a slim hope that he wouldn’t be doing the job forever.

And on the subject of Hope, that was precisely why he was here: Plainsville, the seriously weird town that she’d been investigating for way too long now. With as much research as she’d had time for, he’d have expected more organized reports - but he supposed that was the Foundation way. The papers were always “forthcoming.”

Harry wasn’t exactly pleased to be the bearer of bad news, but he had managed to make his way in and out of Plainsville before (point number one on the list of “answers to questions that didn’t need an answer”), he was reasonably competent in the field (point number two), he was expendable if need be (point number three, thank you Hack, good to know you haven’t changed what with the new situation), and he had already developed a rapport with Agent Phillips (point number four, somewhat contested, Harry was pretty sure Agent Phillips didn’t much like him and was going to like him even less pretty soon).

Plus a host of other reasons. He was not kidding about the list. He made his way into the weirdness that was Plainsville with the unerring accuracy that was the weirdness that was his anomalous butterfly-vision-thing (papers “forthcoming”), which highlighted the quickest and easiest route to get to Agent Phillips in a yellow line that no one else could see. He’d experimented with it a bit, it seemed to work best on ACF assets or things that ought to “belong” in ACF.

One of these days he’d get that paper written. It wasn’t going to be today, though. Robin followed him at her usual sedate pace, alert for danger but trusting him to find the way. She was used to his weirdness by now, and had adapted to it as well as anyone could - possibly better than Harry himself, but that might have something to do with not having to get an inside view of how bizarre everything was.

The house either hadn’t changed, or had changed back. Harry didn’t trust it, but knocked at the door anyway before stepping back a bit more than might have been strictly necessary.

Plainsville. Why me?

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Re: Administrative Career Fluctuations [Closed]

Post by Apricitas » Fri May 29, 2020 8:57 pm


The needle of "Never Northward" nosed its way toward the newcomer, distracting Hope from her currently exciting work of hand-writing invitations (calligraphy being one of the skills she didn't get to use much in any other context) and pointing her attention to the door just moments before someone knocked. She finished with her current invitation, managing to get it slipped into the envelope without smearing the ink from her fingers onto its paper, and crossed the room in a few reasonably long steps to open the door.

This time, there were no anomalous spiders between herself and Mr. Thompson, one of ACF's few N-Classes who wanted to stay that way. She blinked at him a few times, letting various simulations run through his head. Sure, she'd sent a message Leviathan's way about her plans, as he was her boss in the absence of an SV-5, but she hadn't expected Harry to be the one sent back, nor had she expected him to be accompanied by an agent.

"Harry,"
she greeted him, with a pleasant smile despite her surprise, and then turned her chocolate eyes toward his companion. "Agent. I take it you two aren't here for a pleasant stroll between dimensions."

Wisely, perhaps, or maybe stupidly, she let her left hand rest on the inside of the doorframe, keeping her engagement ring out of sight and out of mind just in case Harry and Hack hadn't been informed of the good news yet. Heck, Leviathan might've missed her message entirely, and that would make this an even bigger mess to explain than whatever these two had shown up to say.

Just don't let it be another lecture on decorum. Please.
.

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Re: Administrative Career Fluctuations [Closed]

Post by illirica » Fri May 29, 2020 11:19 pm

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“Ma’am.” Admittedly that wasn’t how Harry usually would have greeted Agent Phillips, and certainly wasn’t how he’d greeted her last time - but she wasn’t really ‘Agent Phillips’ any more, was she? That name would just be one more lost to redaction, something that people were either caused to forget or remembered but politely pretended they didn’t. It would have been better security to fully amnesticize all personnel each time a name was redacted, but there was more to the Foundation than security, and those links of secrecy were important as well - they helped form a core bond that made people’s shared awareness of something they knew they shouldn’t know work together better.

At least, that was the idea, wasn’t it? Whether or not it worked in practice... someone was probably writing a report about that, but it wasn’t Harry Thompson. The doorway of the house was satisfactorily bereft of spiders, and also satisfactorily bereft of Ezekiel Durham Mandrake the Third, making this a much better visit to Plainsville than the last on multiple counts.

Not-Exactly-Agent-Phillips seemed to be hiding something, but then again, she was Foundation. They were all hiding things. Harry had a feeling if it were immediately problematic he’d have Seen through her secrets or something like that, but since he didn’t, he figured it probably didn’t matter. She wasn’t acting like someone about to betray the Foundation and unleash an anomalous Breach. She was acting more like the cat that got into the cream... or the grape Jello, he supposed.

Whatever it was, she was definitely herself. Harry would have known if she weren’t. “I don’t think you’ve met Robin. Agent Robin McKinney, this is...”

He hesitated, but Robin stepped in smoothly before his hesitation could seem like faltering, nodding her head stepping forward to offer her hand. “Of course.” Robin might have been uptight, but she was good at her job, and equally good at compensating for Harry’s... er, Harry-ness.

“Sorry. We’re here on official business. May we come inside? I have something I need to discuss with you in a secure location.” Not that anywhere in Plainsville would have satisfied SV-4’s definition of secure location - and indeed, it didn’t really satisfy Harry’s, either, what with the entity known as Charity lurking around in every corner, and the entity known as Mandrake lurking around every plane.

It would have to do, though, and he had a feeling if there were a major potential security issue, he’d... have more of a headache than he did already.

Why me, again?

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Re: Administrative Career Fluctuations [Closed]

Post by Apricitas » Fri May 29, 2020 11:38 pm


"Agent Phillips. It's a pleasure."


Hope offered her right hand in greeting, but behind her friendly exterior, the cogs of her head were turning. This...didn't have the "lesson in decorum" vibe.

Ma'am wasn't a term Hope was used to hearing much in any context. Even at work, high-ranking officials usually went by "Sir" - or their Names, she supposed, but that was a different story. He could've been here about the wedding, maybe using "ma'am" in the context of "Madam," but the agents who got married were still known as "Agent," so that didn't make sense, either. The idea of the very worst case scenario hit her: that Harry was here to lay her off, and that was the purpose of the extra security. But it didn't feel like that, either. Hope realized she probably didn't have much of any other choice than to say, "Sure. Ezekiel's out right now, and Charity's probably with him, so the house is the most secure location we've got at the moment."

She stepped out of the doorway to let the pair of official ACF personnel inside, realizing that this meant the anomaly was out of the containment unit whether she wanted it to be or not. Or in other words, the invitations, the nice engagement band, and the distinct home-iness of the place would give away what she'd been up to for the next few months, and the announcement that might or might not have made its way to Leviathan already. Still, she was an agent of the Foundation, and she'd made up her mind to treat this as a usual check-in, which meant her next question was both inevitable itself, and a delay of an even more inevitable conversation.

"Do either of you want tea? Coffee?"

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Re: Administrative Career Fluctuations [Closed]

Post by illirica » Sat May 30, 2020 11:35 pm

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Harry stepped in through the doorway, Robin lingering behind and giving the street one last looking-over to make sure that it was... well, as normal as Plainsville got, anyway, which wasn't exactly saying much, but then again, Robin was ACF and weird was just normal on Tuesdays. And every other day, for that matter.

Harry glanced around the room out of habit, but his glance was arrested by a few things that he definitely could not help but notice. He was ACF, after all, and the Foundation's personnel were notorious for their curiosity - that was how most of them had gotten involved in the first place, one way or another.

So, when there was a stack of fancy cards on the worktable, Harry tried to read them, even if they were upside-down. Even the cursory initial scan gave him the general gist of it, the audible crack! of butterfly wings drew even more attention to it, as his miniature anomalous assistant decided to perch atop one of them and investigate, which instantly gave him the perfect Knowledge of everything that the invitations said without the trouble of reading it.

Of course it did. Why me?

At least that was something he was getting used to. His tone changed instantly to something suspicious: "Does Leviathan know about-" Harry broke off, abruptly, muttering disgruntledly to himself. "Of course he does. Fine. Robin, remind me to send him a really strongly worded email when we get back. Deliberately withholding that kind of relevant information isn't funny."

Harry considered this for an exasperated moment, then belately snickered. Okay. So it was kind of funny. And it was kind of good to know that Leviathan hadn't changed so much that he wasn't still... the person he'd been before he'd been Leviathan. "Ugh. Why me? And why him-? No, nope, don't answer that. I don't want to know." Okay, Harry, time to be a professional again, right? Right. Back to serious professional Acting Manager mode.

Harry took a breath, letting it out again. "Well. Fine. So. As you know, it's been a while since SV-5 went thoroughly off the deep end. The Security Council doesn't want to leave the vacancy any longer than they have so far, especially with the current situation." He paused, the much softer fluttering of wings all but inaudible as the butterfly returned to his shoulder so he could watch her and See how she took all this.

"They want you."

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Re: Administrative Career Fluctuations [Closed]

Post by Apricitas » Sun May 31, 2020 1:07 am


They accepted her invitation without accepting her offer of coffee, and Harry immediately realized what was up. She had to admit, he really did make it too easy. Leviathan probably thought the same thing, and more, too, considering she'd heard through the grapevine that they'd worked together for a while.

This time, though, Harry came with a bomb to drop on her lap in return. It was a lot less funny when it was turned around. Frankly, though, this was...she hated to admit it, and would never admit it out loud, especially not in Plainsville, but this was way more serious than her upcoming marriage. If she hadn't been certain Leviathan had received her news already, she would've told Harry to stop. But she knew Leviathan better than that, considering he was her immediate employer.

"Why-"
she then stopped, realizing with a dry smile that that question didn't belong to her. It'd be prudent to rephrase, just in case someone asked for a written report, because she didn't want to have to footnote every time she asked that question. Instead, she amended, "I recognize that the Council has made a decision. So long as Leviathan has an understanding of my current and future situation and still wishes to see me as a Councilman, so be it."

Her smile shifted ever-so-slightly in the thoroughly off the deep end way that Hal's used to. "Things must be pretty crazy for even Hack to have agreed to me, considering the kinds of experience I do and don't have."

Despite the fringe of Hal's old eccentrism, however, she hoped Harry would understand the underlying question: what the hell's been going on back on Earth while I was gone?
.

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Re: Administrative Career Fluctuations [Closed]

Post by illirica » Sun May 31, 2020 1:18 pm

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She'd started to answer with a question, one that was all too familiar - Harry couldn't help but understand what it would have been, even if she had never finished it. A moment of sympathy twinged, he knew exactly what it felt to get thrown into a job you hadn't asked for, weren't ready for, and didn't think you were qualified for. At least Harry had the pretense that it was only temporary to fall back on - Council appointments weren't exactly something you did for a few months and then stepped aside when someone more qualified was ready to take the reins.

She accepted the position, though, which was one really big worry off of Harry's mind. He'd thought she might refuse outright, and he'd have to put forth all the Council's arguments on why she was the one for the job, while simultaneously being very uncertain about the whole thing on a personal level. He unwound enough to relax a little about that, considering her first effective statement as Councilman.

"Things are pretty crazy," he admitted. "I... actually, if you don't mind, I might take you up on that coffee now, and I can fill you in on what you'll be going into. I don't know how much you've been able to keep appraised of out here." Was he allowed to ask a councilman for coffee? Well, this was the ACF - if people couldn't ask for coffee, they'd find they had a lot less people very quickly - including significant portions of the Security Council.

Hack must have known about this whole impending wedding thing, right? Councilman... uh, whatever-her-Name-was-now wasn't stupid. She'd picked up on the person most likely to object to her situation right off the bat. If even he had signed off on this, then that meant either things were really a whole lot worse than Harry even thought they were, or...

His glance slid thoughtfully back to the stack of invitations, a slow smile, lurking. "Hey, Robin..."

"October." Her insertion, before he could even finish the thought. She really did know him too well at this point.

"Son of a gun, I wanted October. Fine. August." He tried to ignore the fact that she'd smirked for just a minute, ruining her oh-so-serious demeanor. And... wait, he was supposed to be the professional here. Back on topic, with Councilman... um. "And, uh, speaking of updates, it might be a good idea to figure out your Name pretty soon."

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Re: Administrative Career Fluctuations [Closed]

Post by Apricitas » Sun May 31, 2020 7:07 pm


Hope - soon-to-be something else - nodded at the request for coffee, remembering the last time that Harry was here.

"You still take it half milk?"
she asked, rising to step into the kitchen. "And Agent McKinney, you want anything?"

She pretended not to notice the conversation behind her. If Harry wanted her to know, he'd have asked her opinion as well, if for no other reason than she was a Councilman now. Obviously, she'd have to talk to Leviathan, meander home sometime before the wedding, get a more in-depth assessment from someone who in theory knew everything about the situation, and officially get inaugurated into the Council. But, well, maybe she'd get more than she already had from Harry, if only from Level-2 location scuttlebutt.

"I've been kept up-to-date on the basics of the situation. Leviathan caused some trouble with Assurance back in December, they're starting to catch on about the Project, we've been considering negotiations. That's essentially all that I know so far."


She stepped out of the kitchen with the two coffees and whatever Robin had asked for, if anything, by the time Harry had gotten around to her...Name. Names were important, vitally important. Hal'd taught her that, too. She wondered just how much Harry knew Hal had taught her, and how much the rest of the Foundation expected her to reflect his attitude. Right now, though, she needed to consider the implications of a Council Name. She knew, for example, that Ezekiel would never call her something dumb and formal, or even mildly intimidating. She wasn't too hot at double meanings, either, more used to spotting them than using them. Names like Hack, and Jupiter, weren't her type. Something informal, that the Foundation would call her and her fiance would be okay with, not to mention something that suited her.

Basically, it took about two seconds for her to blurt it out.

"Sunshine. SV-Five, 'Sunshine.'"

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Last edited by Apricitas on Sun May 31, 2020 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Administrative Career Fluctuations [Closed]

Post by illirica » Sun May 31, 2020 7:56 pm

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Harry considered denying that he took his milk with a little coffee in it, but everyone here already knew, so he just gave the new Councilman a nod. Robin shook her head, declining, which was no surprise - Harry knew she didn't like eating or drinking "on the job." Harry accepted the offered drink, glancing at it for just a moment out of some weird habit, secure in the Knowledge that it wasn't poisoned or filled with anomalous miasma or anything normal like that.

On the abnormal side, there was... "Sunshine?" Harry's repetition was of the sense that he was absolutely sure he hadn't heard that right, but he had heard that right, so... well, Sunshine it was. At least it was secure enough that it wouldn't be easy to guess, even if it made her sound like someone's kid sister. "I... er. All right... Sunshine it is." He would have definitely chosen something cooler-sounding, but at the same time Harry was not at all sorry that he didn't have to. He had enough to do just handling L-14, after all.

Hey, maybe he could talk 'Sunshine' here into assigning a real manager one of these days, that would be a bonus. "I don't know what's really going on with Assurance," Harry answered her situation assessment, "Seems like that's been going on forever, but I guess that's bureaucracy for you. Whatever's happening with that, it's happening at the highest levels. I think the Project might know more about it than the Foundation, even. Not sure on that - that's just a guess. I don't hang out with those people, they're a bunch of nutjobs."

As opposed to the Foundation, which was full of sane and professional individuals, right? "Plus there's the whole Contaminant situation. Right now it's contained, but I don't think anyone trusts it to stay that way. It might be one of the most dangerous things we've got contained right now. I'll be honest, it's not a good time to be coming in as a Councilman." He took a drink of nomalous coffee, thoughtfully. "Though I guess none of them are."

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Re: Administrative Career Fluctuations [Closed]

Post by Apricitas » Sun May 31, 2020 8:25 pm


The newly appointed Councilman Sunshine smiled slightly at Harry's reaction to her chosen Name, but quickly grew serious again as she took in what Harry had said.

"I see."
She sat down, and then sat back, and then sipped on her mug of caffeinated sugar. "I'll need to talk to Leviathan, then, and most likely one of the managers at the Project. After I've talked to Ezekiel about all this, obviously. He's going to need to know about the promotion at least. As for the Contaminant..."

She trailed off, a little bit. Why did that sound important? The Contaminant was a high-class reality-bender, the kind that people used to worry 707 would turn out to be but all knew she never would. There was never a good time to be a Councilman, everyone knew, but there had to be a reason they were calling for an SV-5 now - a manager of the pocket dimension L-9. She finished her long, slow sip, and then glanced back at Harry, her expression inscrutable to the naked eye.

"Where is it currently being contained? L-8, under Butterfly? Or somewhere else?"

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