February 11, 1998:
He smiled at the bald man, waving with his elbow because his hands were too full, then setting his cup on the edge of his desk. Coffee—black.
He carefully balanced the other man’s drink, easing it down onto the porcelain coaster gently, then nodding to him. “Morning, Dr. Gears.”
“Good morning, Agent,” he replied flatly.
Lament walked to his desk, sitting down and pulling off the calendar’s top page, looking down at the next one. He grinned. “You’ll like this one, sir,” he said, just a touch of humor in his voice. “Why do physicists make terrible lovers?”
Gears stared at him.
“Because they can find the position, but not the velocity. Or the velocity, but not the position,” Lament grinned from ear to ear.
Gears nodded. “Schrodinger, I believe.”
“Have you finished your report on 106?” Gears asked.
Lament sighed. Swing and a miss. “No, sir, but I’ve got a few ideas…” he said quietly, leaning back to grab the file from his desk drawer.
Gears nodded slightly.
Lament pointed down at the schematic of the containment chamber. “I think we might be able to offset the corrosion if we actually suspend the cell," he started, laying it down open on his desk, pulling out his notes. "Keep it away from most surfaces. Direct contact seems to be the surest method of extensive transition, so…” And he was off.
And Gears listened, expressionless as Lament rattled off the plan. Of the original bodies that they’d found, one of them was wearing a watch which had a chromium plated band, untarnished, and he thought that they might be able to line the inside of the cell with that, since it seemed to have decayed slower.
Gears nodded as he finished. “And the suspension? How would we be able to manage it without direct contact with the cell?”
Lament shrugged. “Magnetics?” he suggested.
Gears nodded for a moment. “We’ll look into it,” he said. “In the meantime, I need you to refocus your efforts. A slight conundrum for you.”
“What is it, sir?”
April 27, 1998:
Lament had never heard of 884, and he quickly understood why. The Foundation barely had it in custody in the ninety-odd years that it had been known. Some group called “The Chaos Insurgency”—Lament had cackled over that name—kept stealing it. He looked down at the file, tilting his head slightly at the thickness of it, sighing.
“He’s got to be kidding me…”
As luck would have it, the only one he needed to give a damn about was Dash-Four. The other pieces of the SCP, which had originally been a complete men’s grooming kit, had been lost, destroyed, or stolen over the years. This last remaining piece was rather… innocuous. Just a mirror. It was nothing like the razor or the comb or even the shaving cup (all of which were far more interesting and far more dangerous). He read over the file a few times before pushing it to the side. He has to wonder what was special about it. And moreso, why Gears had assigned it to him. It wasn't an immediate or serious problem, just… He looked up at the clock.
Almost 7:00 PM already. He sighed heavily, opening his desk drawer and laying the thick, heavily bound document into it. With a stretch, he stood up, walking to the door and out into the silent hall. It was after hours in the Site19 staff offices, and there were only a few people still there. Over the last few weeks, he’d become one of those few.
Gears wasn’t a hard taskmaster. He never gave you anything you weren’t capable of. There was just… so much of it. He was completely amazed that the man had been managing on his own for this long, much less with this level of work. It was almost… disconcerting. At times, he wondered if he was actually helping or not, but Glass had told him—in his last mandatory psychological review—that it was a normal response. He took his reassurances at face value, and continued plodding along.
He turned, smiling a little when he saw Sandlemyer waving at him. “Wait up!”
The two of them had gotten to know each other fairly well. Djoric, who was still the other agent’s supervisor, worked mostly with written effects and mild memetics, and Sandlemyer was training in the same field. He and Sandlemyer had already worked together once on a small project when Gears hadn’t needed Lament for a couple of days. It had been… nice. He was working with someone normal and even chipper at times. It was the most relaxing two days he’d spent since he came to Site19.
“Hey, Sandy,” he said. The Agent had taken well to the nickname Djoric had given him, and Lament occasionally wished he had as good a relationship with Gears as Sandlemyer had with the other doctor. “What’s been going on in the library?”
Sandlemyer laughed. The library, as his office had come to be called, was just outside the holding room for every currently contained copy of The Hanged King’s Tragedy, and just a few doors away, dozens of other books that would rape your mind or flense your skin sat waiting for someone to look at them.
It made for a slightly disturbing aesthetic.
“Not much. I’ve been trying to figure out the containment on this thing…” he said.
And it started. Their ritual. They talked to each other at length, discussing the problems that either one were having with their respective work. When Lament mentioned the mirror, Sandlemyer just shook his head and laughed. “You’re going to have to get someone actually inside the Insurgency to figure that one out…” he said, a wide smirk on his face.
Lament just shrugged, suggested that he try setting up a telekill box—“It’s like this. If the book is emitting thoughts, this stuff will explode and destroy it, which is your orders, right?”—and then headed back toward his quarters.
He walked back into his quarters—which were finally looking lived in—and nearly kicked a folder that had been slipped under his door. There was a note attached to the top of it, and Lament read it with a frown, feeling his stomach slip away as he realized that he would be awake far later than he wanted.
“Chromium ineffective. Reassess.”