Agent Sasha Merlo sat alone in her office at Site-64. Her neck length brunette hair was neatly tied in a ponytail as she leaned back in her office chair, feet resting upon her desk. Her eyes were thoughtfully glued to the monitor in front of her as she slowly scrolled through the numerous pages of a large person of interest file.
Merlo let out an exasperated sigh. In two weeks’ time she would lead another sting operation against the mysterious mechanist. Ideally this time around things would end better than the last sting she'd lead, in which she was left dumbfounded, with nothing to show for her and her team’s efforts save several puddles of melted robot.
A sudden knock at her office door shook Merlo from her daydream. She looked at over at the electric blue office clock at her wall and smiled. Her new agent had arrived.
“Come in,” Merlo called out.
In response the door to her office opened, and a young agent stepped inside. She was rather tall, with shoulder length blond hair, and a pair of thin rimmed glasses that sat on her nose. Her face was plastered with the most unreadable expression.
“Welcome to Gamma-13,” Merlo said as she stood to shake her guest’s hand. “You must be Agent Shaw. I’m Agent Merlo. Welcome to the Asimov's Lawbringers.”
Shaw politely accepted the hand shake. Her movements seemed slow and calculated.
“Guess I’m your new narc.”
“Damn straight,” Merlo grinned. “Did Director Holman fill you in on our shtick when you got here?”
“I guess you could say that,” Shaw replied with a shrug. “He said you guys have been chasing an anomalous robot salesman for over a decade, and have run out of new faces to run your stings.”
“That’s about it in a nutshell,” said Merlo as she began to dig through her desk’s side drawer. “Anderson’s a bit of a slippery case. Most of our raids have ended in him throwing us for a loop or two. We had one of his bots out at Site-19 for a couple of years, but that didn’t turn out well… Aha, there it is!”
Merlo pulled out a small file and slid it across the desk. Shaw cautiously picked it up and began to scan its contents.
“This is your briefing for the sting,” Merlo continued. “This time around we have some of Anderson’s people thinking that we are representatives for a local shaker in the anart beat named Jericho Hill. You can thank my dear friend Daniel for setting up that ID later. Turns out Hill’s been a patron of Anderson’s for years and you’re likely going to be meeting with real people and not Saker units. We’ve got the meeting set up on neutral ground at a warehouse on the waterfront. Your task is going to simply be a matter of keeping them preoccupied with the sale until we get the MTF in place. We hit the building with a specially designed EMP to stun any Saker units, and then send in the troops to do clean up.”
Shaw’s face cracked into a minuscule smile.
“No kidding,” Merlo snickered as she leaned back in her chair, kicking her feet back onto her desk. “We’ll get one of those bastards this time.”
“Guess I should get cracking on this,” said Shaw as she began to move towards the exit.
“Hold on,” Merlo said, her smug smile vanishing as she stared Shaw in the eye. “Before you go I should let you know one thing. It takes anywhere between six months and two and a half years to put one of these stings together and have it stick. Each time we fail there are more and more hoops to jump through.”
“I’m not trying to get on your case before you even start, but I just want you to appreciate how much is depending on your performance. A lot of us have been with Gamma-13 since they were first formed. We’re at the point where we could use a step forward instead of two steps back. It would be just dandy if you could help us with that.”
Shaw nodded in understanding.
“You’ve got it boss,” she said, then turned and left the room.
Agent Shaw stood quietly in the center of the warehouse, among what must have been nearly three dozen freight containers. Near her stood demo models of each of Anderson’s products. Behind them were two men, each cheerfully pitching the different models to her as she feigned interest.
Just a few more minutes, Shaw thought to herself. Her hidden ear piece was abuzz with the various communications of the rest of the task force. They were just moments away from being ready to strike. Up to this point, everything had gone perfectly. Shaw just needed to relax, and bide her time. She then returned her attention to the two salesmen.
The first man, who had introduced himself as Phineas, appeared to be in his fifties, with a bald head, a long white beard, and almost translucent skin. A faint mechanical whirling every time he walked or moved his hands or eyes indicated that several of his appendages were likely to be bionic. He wore an all-black business suit with a red tie, the former only serving to make his faint skin look fainter.
The second man, who had been introduced as Miles, was much younger, barely appearing to be out of his mid-twenties. His skin was dark and he had a shaved head. His manner of constantly fidgeting suggested that this was likely his first time on the sales floor.
There’s our prey, Shaw thought to herself, and gave Miles a small smile. The boy quickly averted his eyes and turned his head away.
“And that’s the last of our models Ms. Starling,” Phineas said with a warm smile. “As I said before, these are just our demo models. Each unit is fully customizable to meet whatever specifications Mr. Hill currently has in mind.”
“T-15 seconds to strike!” Merlo’s voice called in Shaw’s ear.
“Well Phineas,” said Shaw with grin, her voice uncharacteristically bubbly as she offered a hand shake. “I must say you two really know how to put on a show. I was quite impressed from start to finish.”
“Anderson does aim to please,” Phineas said as he accepted. Meanwhile, Shaw counted down in her head from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…
“Gotcha…” Shaw mumbled under her breath, gently letting go of the old man’s hand and taking several steps backward.
The demo models all shut down as an electromagnetic pulse ripped through the building. Seconds later, the rest of the mobile task force crashed into the warehouse.
“Phineas…” Miles shouted, his jaw dropping in terror.
“Run Miles!” The old man shouted, quickly reaching into his jacket pockets and throwing their contents at the droids as Shaw began to draw her pistol. Globs of neon blue goo flew through the air, landing on the droids and causing them to quickly crumble into rust. Shaw began to squeeze the trigger, her aim centered on Phineas’s leg. However, with almost superhuman speed, the old man closed the distance between them, grabbed the pistol with one hand and Shaw’s jacket with the other, effortlessly throwing her away. The agent flew through the air twenty feet, landing with a hard thud on the ground. Phineas was still holding onto her pistol.
How are his bionic limbs still working, Shaw thought to herself as a deafening ringing filled her ears, they should be fried. What is he…
Shaw managed to prop herself up, to watch the ensuing firefight unfold.
Phineas and Miles quickly took cover behind a shipping container, Phineas judicially using Shaw’s pistol to fire at the Foundation agents as they got too close. However, it soon became clear to both sides that the two salesmen were pinned, and the MTF members were closing in. To make matters worse, a stray bullet soon found itself lodged in Miles’s leg.
“Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!” Miles’s shout pierced the din of the gunfire and he collapsed to the ground. Phineas quickly got to work dragging his comrade back towards the warehouse’s wall, his last four shots used to cover his trail, downing two SCP agents in the process. The empty click of the pistol sent Phineas into a fit of rage.
With fluid motion he quickly turned to the wall, reaching into his pocket and unleashing several more handfuls of the neon blue goo. Within moments, a man sized hole had been eaten into the building’s side, the nearby river visible through the opening. Phineas then turned towards Miles, a handful of the corrosive substance held aloft ready to be thrown.
“Phineas, no!” Miles screamed in terror, quickly raising his hands to cover his face. Phineas stopped mid-throw, his hand shaking as he looked down at his incapacitated friend.
With a screech of fury Phineas chucked the goo at an approaching agent, clipping the man’s arm as it passed. The man let out a scream of pain as his arm melted into a puddle of blood and lysed tissue on the floor.
“God damn it, Wilson!” Phineas shouted as he turned on the spot and sprinted at the hole in the wall, diving through it and disappearing into the world beyond.
Shaw had gotten to her feet and was sprinting toward the hole. Several MTF members already had secured the wailing Miles. When she arrived at the hole, there was no sign of Phineas, just the dark waters of the Willamette River glittering in the late afternoon sun.
Shaw turned around to see Merlo triumphantly standing over Miles, as the MTF quickly set about sedating him and placing him on a stretcher.
“After all this time,” Merlo began, “We finally caught one of you bastards.”
Agent Clarissa Shaw sat quietly at her desk at Site-64, filling out her share of the paperwork for the recent Anderson sting. Save for the occasional patter of her keyboard, the room was silent, her other four office mates having gone to lunch a few minutes prior. This proved to be relief, however, as it gave Shaw a chance to collect her thoughts on what had transpired in recent days.
Shaw let out an exhausted sigh. On one hand, she was glad to have helped out the “Asimov's Lawbringers” as much as she did on her first mission with them. On the other hand, she had a sinking feeling that having Miles in custody was only going to create more questions than it answered.
Shaw gave a startled jump as the door to the office flew inwards. Agent Merlo stormed in with a giant grin on her face.
“He’s a Saker!” She said, her voice trembled as she tossed a folder down onto Shaw’s desk. Agent Shaw cringed slightly as all the pens and papers she had neatly ordered fell into disarray. Shaw gingerly opened the folder and scanned its contents.
“Yeah… The kid’s a Saker. We’ve got ourselves a Saker.”
“Then why didn’t the EMP stun him?”
“I don’t know, it should have, but it didn’t.”
“And…” Shaw’s brow rose in confusion. “Anderson should be able to remotely terminate him…”
“Exactly, but Anderson hasn’t yet,” Merlo shouted in excitement, “And on top of that, you said you saw Phineas consider destroying him, but then change his mind. That means that this kid must be very, very special to someone.”
“But who?” Shaw asked, slowly wheeling herself backwards from her hysterical colleague.
“Isn’t that the million dollar question,” Merlo replied with a chuckle. “However, since the kid is not going anywhere, I think we are in a pretty damn good position to find out.”
Merlo then began to make her way towards the door.
“Stick around Shaw,” she said with devious smile, “you’re going to see some serious shit.”