Unexpected Visitors and Warm Welcomes
rating: +15+x

Previously

A knock on the door roused William from his nap. He reluctantly rose out of his armchair and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.

He opened the door. “Come in.”

The young woman entered while carrying a stack of folders, her office cart left outside. She closed the door behind her, threw the folders down on William's desk and collapsed in the armchair sitting in the corner.

“You would not believe the day I just had, Will.” She stretched her arms out above her head before settling them behind it.

William sighed and rubbed his eyes some more.” I’m sure I can’t.”

She pulled her legs up on the chair. “Could you at least pretend to be interested? And stop looking like someone just told you that you had to work overtime again.”

“Is that why you’re here? Jesus Christ.” He sat down at his desk and let his head drop to its surface.

“Well, not exactly. I wouldn’t come here just to torture you, now would I?” She grinned.

“Wouldn’t surprise me. Now could you just tell m-” The screaming of sirens cut him off. “Please tell me that’s not it, Dionne.”

“Sorry Will. No rest for the wicked.”

The piercing sound of the sirens did wonders for his drowsiness. Will took his notebook and began flipping through it.

“MCD, no. None of the churches, the Insurgency’s busy in Siberia and the Sarkicists are having one of their celebrations. Our friends seem to have arrived without an appointment.” He sat the notebook down, opened the drawer with the fake bottom and took out a sleek laptop. William turned it on and within seconds the familiar Foundation logo greeted him in all its drab glory.

One after another, footage from security cameras began flashing on the screen as Will’s fingers danced across the keyboard. Dionne got up from her seat and moved behind him, gazing at the screen. A few of the cameras on the outer parts of the facility went dead, but not before allowing the two a glimpse of the attackers.

“Doesn’t look like any of the usual customers.” Dionne leaned in closer.

William rewound the recording. “Indeed. Seems like the Foundation has made a new friend.”

“Any ideas?”

William smiled at her, drew a small pager from the inner pocket of his suit and pushed the single button on it.

The ring of a janitor began buzzing. A woman making minor repairs to a locking mechanism felt her earring vibrate. The bracelet of a technical consultant shook briefly. An unnoticeable wave of activity spread across the Site as countless tiny gears were set into motion.

“Oooh, how dramatic, Sir William.” Dionne began moving towards the door. “Any orders for me?”

“Just be you.”

“Oh get stuffed, you paper pusher.” Dionne flipped the account off while walking towards the door.

William gave her another smile as she left. He got up, walked to one of the shelves and ran his fingers across the spines of the ledgers, his hand stopping after reaching the one he desired. He placed it on the desk and opened it. In it, amidst the countless expenses of the Foundation, lay hidden the deals he conducted to keep this shadow world in equilibrium. Attacks on safehouses and Sites, agreed on beforehand. Deals to allow Foundation teams to attack and retrieve specific items. Mutually agreed-on casualty limits. Which individuals were about to defect, which could be used as moles. Everything sitting in rows upon rows of ledgers.

“Didn’t even have the courtesy to call beforehand,” he mumbled to himself as he opened up an account for their new associates, “where have good manners disappeared to?”

***

Carmine ran through the halls. The guards on the outer perimeter had barely managed to put up any resistance. Such a giant like the Foundation, brought to its knees just by him and his brothers and sisters in arms. He turned a corner and slammed into a cart filled with paper. He stumbled back and took aim, but the paper thrown into the air by the collision covered the movement of his attacker. Before he could react, a blade was driven into his thigh. Carmine keeled over as the pain washed over him.

His weapon was ripped out of his hand and he found himself staring into the face of a woman barely into her thirties, her red hair tied together in a single thick braid. He opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off as the knife opened his throat into a leering smile.

Dionne leaped aside from the small fountain of blood and wiped her blade on Carmine's jacket. She appraised the weapon. A Beretta 81 with some rather interesting symbols engraved along the side. Looks well looked after but a tad worn.

“How many?” A voice came from behind her.

“Four, so far. They seem to be moving alone.” She turned around and dropped the weapon into the hands of the janitor.

“No wonder. Thaumaturges don’t work that well if you put them too many of them in an enclosed space. Interference and all that.” He threw the weapon in the trashcan on his cart.

Dionne raised an eyebrow. “Thaumaturges?”

Two men in Maintenance uniforms arrived from behind the janitor and began placing Carmine's corpse in a body bag.

The janitor nodded. “Oh yes. Apparently, Lucilius ran into a Type Red.”

“Any thoughts on what they’re doing here?” Dionne began gathering up the scattered papers and placing them back in her office cart.

“Saw a few try to get the containment cells open on the way here. Doesn’t look like they know what’s in them.” The janitor looked at the two workers who were already finishing up with the body. ”Thanks, guys! The incinerator should be ready to go and after you’re done with that head to the East wing. I left a few lying there.”

The two nodded and headed off, the body back on their shoulders.

“Then I guess it’s time to get back to work. See you around, Daumant.” Dionne quickly gathered up the last of the papers and headed off into another direction.

He nodded his head in goodbye and began mopping up the blood.

”Why does everybody always go for the throat? Leaves such a mess,” Daumant said to the empty hallway.

***
William was placing the ledger back into the shelf when he heard the door creak.

“To what do I owe the pleasure?” He turned around.

The air shimmered for a moment as a man and a woman seemingly stepped out of nowhere.

“Type Blue, right?” William walked towards the two.” Now whyever would you spend the time and energy to come get me? If you wanted to meet me so bad you could have ju-” Before Will could finish the sentence the man walked up to him and sprayed something smelling vaguely of lavneder in the accountant’s face. A bitter taste was all Will felt before the world plunged into darkness.

***

William was roused from his unconsciousness by a few slaps, his head feeling as if he had spent the last few hours trying to drink a brewery dry. A wave of nausea washed over him as he raised his head. What a pleasant day this was turning out to be.

The face of a clean shaved man was inches away from his as he opened his eyes. The pair who had taken him from his office flanked the man who William assumed to be their leader.

“Can you hear me, Mr. Cranford?” The man was squatting to get on William’s eye level.

“Loud and clear. Now if I may ask, what am I doing here and who might you be?” William squeezed his eyes shut for a few moments, waiting for the headache to subside.

The man smiled. ”Of course. I know of you from my previous employers. Apparently, you are the one who takes care of all the dirty deals of the Foundation. The name is Ludolf.”

Will took a sidelong glance at his surroundings. “I wouldn’t label it so, but for the sake of this conversation, yes I am. Now, why go through all this trouble to get me?” He seemed to be outside of the site. Not too far though, if the sirens were something to go by.

“Oh, you are just a bonus. We are here to free our brothers.” Ludolf rose out of the squat.

“Your brothers? And who would that be?” William was stalling and trying to get the man to spill everything he knew.

“The Shapers, the Manipulators, the Evergrowing!” The leader of his captors spread his arms to the sides.

“Type Green, Blue and Red I presume? And I am here why?”

“Since you keep contact with all the big players, you have quite a bit of information on them stashed away in that head of yours. We’d like you to point us in the direction of the rest of our brothers.” Ludolf explained, the grin still adorning his features.

“So you’re some kind of liberation force? Jesus Christ what a bunch of geniuses.” William spat out.

“You disapprove of our vision?” This got to Ludolf, the smile beginning to fade.

“I disapprove of idiots. You want to make a nice little army of Greens, Reds and Blues. Good idea in theory, but you think you can put a bunch of magic-using and reality-bending, psychologically unstable narcissists together and convince them to fight for a righteous cause? Not that I’m not impressed by what you have done here, but yeah, go ahead, make Chernobyl look like a goddamn joke.” William finished his tirade and promptly got punched in the nose.

“Take him with us. We’ll get what we need out of him back at base.” Ludolf ordered his subordinates.

The two abductors flanking him moved to pick the swearing William up, but before they could reach him the sharp sound of an assault rifle pierced the air. Ludolf reacted near instantly, rushing up to William and pulling him to his feet. William found himself used as a human shield, a cold gun barrel pressed against his temple.

“Are you really gonna try this, friend? I’m an accountant for the Foundation. They’ll shoot with no hesitation. There are a hundred men and women working under me who could take this job within a heartbeat.”

The eyes of Ludolf frantically looked around, trying to find an escape path. He pushed William to the ground and turned to run, only to find himself staring down the barrel of a gun.

“Should I?” Dionne asked.

“Go ahead. The guy told me everything.” Will got up.

A single shot rang out and the man fell to the ground. Two guards arrived at the scene, both nodding to William and Dionne. The pair began walking back to the Site.

“Shame.” William began brushing the dirt off his suit and wiping the bit of blood dripping from his nose.

“How come?” Dionne looked at him.

“They could have been a nice business partner, if not for the rather delusional goals, that is. Acquiring humanoids would’ve gotten a lot easier.” Will took out his notebook and scratched out a few lines of text and numbers.

“Such is life? What are you gonna do now?” Dionne pulled her arm back and flung the gun still in her hand into the bushes.

“If I recall correctly, once the breach is over, one has to get back their job.”

“So you’re going back to sleep?” Dionne smirked.

“Oh yes. Can’t let them think I’m already done with my work. That would just mean more of the stuff. Does my tie look okay?” Will turned towards Dionne.

“As if anyone in your department cares. I’ll be heading to the cafeteria now. You want anything?”

William thought for a moment.

“Some tea would be nice.”

“Good, then you can come and get it yourself.” She swiped her card on the Site entrance.

“Why must you do this to me, Dionne?” William followed her through the door.

“Because everybody in Accounting doesn’t so much as let out a peep against you since you shouted at that poor guy until he cried .”

William scoffed. “Well, I had a good reason.”

“He wrote the wrong year on one of the forms right after returning from his New Year vacation.” Dionne said in a deadpan tone.

“Alright, alright, but it wasn’t that bad!” William tried to defend himself.

“He trembles like a leaf everytime you so much as enter the same room as him.”

“Okay, I get it. I’ll get my own tea.” Will raised his arms up in defeat.

They walked in silence for a few moments.

“The guy from Medical is going to defect, you know.” Dionne said as they walked past the infirmary

Will furrowed his brow. “Anzo?”

“Yeah, that’s him. What are we going to do?”

“Well, since he’s going to MCD… I say let him. If he’s useful I’ll bill them, if not, well, they’re going to do their usual thing. Win-win.” Will shrugged his shoulders.

“God, you’re a soulless prick. How come you’re not Senior Staff yet?” Dionne rolled her eyes

William let out a chuckle.” Oh, don’t get me started little miss “I spend more time with knives than people”. One would think you’d be quite high up on the list.”

Dionne laughed for a moment as well, before hooking an arm underneath Wills.

The two walked through gray hallways, the Spider and the Mantis.

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