All The King's Men
rating: +18+x

Agent Hanlon sat quietly in the empty conference room, occasionally shuffling papers and twiddling his thumbs. He glanced at a watch that hadn't kept accurate time in about a week, and then at the wall clock. 13:35. His profession kept him waiting often enough, but rarely did the time pass without some dread. He tried to keep busy by going through his notes again, but found it did little to help his mood.

He didn't need to wait much longer. After a few more brief minutes, a tall man in a black suit and a short, black woman in a purple one entered the room. Hanlon stood and extended his hand, which was met by the tall man's.

"Agent Parker," he said curtly, "and this is Assistant Director Richards. Agent Hanlon, is it?"

Hanlon nodded. "Yes, sir, that's me, uh," he fumbled for his badge, "I'm… here, Information Detraction, Censo-"

Parker took his seat next to the assistant director. "IDCaRD, yes, we're familiar with the division. Go ahead and have a seat." Hanlon awkwardly stepped into the side of the chair he had just been sitting in and, finding that angle inaccessible, scooted towards the front and took his seat. He adjusted his papers slightly and then his tie, trying his best to look as comfortable as possible.

Parker opened a manilla envelope, the same that Hanlon had sent to them a week prior. "Alright, Mr. Hanlon," Agent Parker said slowly, "what've you got?"

Hanlon stood again, too quickly, and wobbled slightly. Today is not going well, he thought, but quickly corrected himself and moved towards the laptop he had situated towards the front of the room. "Right, so," he turned on the projector above them and turned off the lights in the room, and pulled up his first slide.

"I called this meeting because, as you have probably read," he gestured to the packet, "we're having a little bit of trouble pinning down this online group, the Knights of Truth." He clicked to the next slide, and paused for dramatic effect.

"They're a fairly minor outfit, mostly conspiracy theorists and paranormal investigators. Amateurs, the whole lot. Made their name by collecting videos and images of 'paranormal' events and entities. Ninety percent of it is pretty blatant bullshit, but every now and then somebody gets a shot of something noteworthy."

He clicked to the next slide. "Case in point, this video was taken about a month ago, and uploaded by a user named 'HeadHuntress541' out of Albany, New York. This guy here," he pointed at the screen with a laser pointer, "is currently contained at Site-34, and is a Euclid-class entity. Our source of discovery was this video, actually. Naturally, the teams involved amnesticized the user in question and got the video pulled, but considering the nature of this object, the video proved an invaluable resource."

The assistant director nodded. "So are you seeking resources to pull the website?"

Hanlon shook his head. "Not at all. These guys are such a low level threat that it wouldn't be worth the manpower. Originally IDCaRD had a system of disinformation in place to handle the Knights, but this has proved… redundant. Frankly, they've done all of the disinformation themselves. Their userbase is full of hobbyists, civilians, any nut with a camera and a fixation on some conspiracy theory. The overwhelming majority of information loaded onto their website is worthless. They pose absolutely no danger to us at all."

"That being said, they also represent a unique opportunity. You know just as much as anybody else that we've always been a reactive organization, rarely acting before the danger is upon us. In lack of better terms, this provides us the ability to… outsource some of our intelligence. If something gets serious enough, we can pull individual videos and get our teams out there to wipe the users, but in the meantime, we wait and see what they come up with."

Agent Parker laughed. "So you're saying we allow this website, which is very clearly an open breach of information, to just… exist? Where anyone can see it? Isn't that sort of against your division's mantra, agent?"

Hanlon shrugged. "That's why I'm here. Final decision rests outside of my hands, but this is what we're proposing. We're comfortable enough with the situation to advocate just watching and waiting, and acting if need be. We're thoroughly confident enough in our ability to manage a handful of amateurs with cell phone cameras."

Parker scoffed at the idea, but Richards leaned forward. "How many other entities have they recorded since you began your observation?"

Hanlon flipped through his notes. "Legitimate objects and entities? Four, in the last six months. They're not that good at what they do. Worth mentioning is that we're also tracking the users who upload the videos in question. If any one user is responsible for too many legitimate leads, we'll investigate them for possible involvement with other groups." He stuck his hands in his pockets. "Standard protocol."

The assistant director nodded. "I see. Whose head is on the line if we suffer a severe breach of information?"

Hanlon swallowed quietly. "That would be mine, Director Richards."

Richards held her gaze on him for a moment more, and then stood up. Parker followed suit.

"Very well," she said, adjusting her jacket. "I'll consider you accountable for this. Send your proposal to my office and you'll have your authorization, bearing the stipulation that myself and Director Conway will have an override on this project. If we feel it's getting out of hand and you are unable to handle the repercussions, I will not hesitate to bring a full stop to the project and, potentially, to your division. Are we understood?"

Hanlon nodded slowly. "Aye, Director. We are."

She smiled. "Excellent. Godspeed, agent. I'll expect the first report on my desk one month from today."

Hanlon agreed, and the three of them left the room. After his shift had ended, Hanlon excused himself to the IDCaRD staff lounge, where he opened a drink and some potato chips and fell asleep on the couch. It had been a good day after all.

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