Wednesday, 3pm, The Office of Paul Dimaccio
rating: +49+x

Weiss carefully pushed open the door and stepped into the office.

It was sparsely decorated. Just a few cheaply-framed diplomas dotted the walls, and a plain desk plus two chairs were the only furnishings. Paul Dimaccio, MTF Theta-90's commander, was seated at the desk. Across from him, where Weiss had expected an empty chair, sat Dr. Mario Sottobosco of MTF Epsilon-242.

"No, seriously," Dimaccio was saying. "You gotta try my Mom's spaghetti sauce. I'll bring some in next week. It'll blow you away, I promise."

Dr. Sottobosco visibly bristled. "And was your mother born in Italy?"

"Yeah. Well.. Little Italy. But that's just as good, right?"

"No! It is not 'just as good'!" Sottobosco stood. "If you were truly civilized, you would have learned to appreciate the sublime flavors of a well-made carbonara or a good piece of baccalà!"

"Oh, I have this great recipe for penne with carbonara sauce. You can just buy it from the grocery store, and—"

"Carbonara sauce? Cazzo! Good afternoon, Commander!" Sottobosco turned on his heel and swept out of the room.

Dimaccio looked at Weiss, a gleam in his eye. "Take a seat, Specialist. Sorry that overran. I can't resist turning Sottobosco's crank about Italian food."

"It's fine, sir." Weiss paused. "I guess he did sound pretty Italian."

"He's from Rome. Thinks Roman food is all there is. I like to play the ignorant American to get a rise outta him. Thinks I can't understand him calling me a prick, either."


Dimaccio's smile vanished. "Word of advice, though. Don't underestimate people like Sottobosco around here. They can be pretty weird, but they really know their shit. And they don't lose it when things get tricky. If you wanna be useful in Theta-90, you're gonna need the same skills." Dimaccio opened the folder in front of him. "Which brings us right to business. Know why you're here?"

"No, sir."

"Oh, come on, Weiss. I know you haven't been officially told, but you weren't selected for being dumb. Try again."

"Well… now I've passed my general training classes, I get a meeting with my MTF commander to discuss the rest of my training."

"Good. Like what?"

"Material that's specific to my MTF's DOS."

Dimaccio paused. "And what's Theta-90's DOS, Weiss?"

Weiss' reply was immediate. "Geometric, topological and other such spatial anomalies, sir."

Dimaccio suddenly assumed an aspect of slack-jawed ignorance. "Oh, no, I can not understand you cuz I am just a dumb field dog. You gots to talk with the small words."

Weiss stifled a laugh. "It means we operate where the dimensions, angles and curves of things are all jacked up, sir."

"Right again." Dimaccio raised an eyebrow. "So I'm sure, with all that college you got, you can work out why we got saddled with 'Angle Grinders' as our punny little nickname."

"Haha. Uh. Yes, sir." Something occurred to Weiss. "Wait. Didn't you go to UPenn? Sir," she quickly added.

"Did your homework, didn't you, Weiss?" Dimaccio grinned. "BS Math. Worked my ass off for it too. But you know how it is. Us Field Agents got a reputation as boorish ignoramuses to maintain."

Weiss wasn't sure whether to laugh or not.

"Oh, come on, Weiss, you know it's true. And I'll tell you something — I'm not the only field dog with a diploma from a fancy school. A few of us got more than one, even. But when you work in a place like this" — Dimaccio gestured — "stuffed full of PhD's, it's all relative. Anyhow, we're getting off topic." He slid a single piece of paper from the folder to Weiss. "Look at this and then sign on the line. Legibly, please."

Weiss looked at the paper. Aside from the signature line, the only thing on it was a fairly realistic line drawing of an MTF trooper in an operational loadout, complete with body armor and respirator. Weiss shrugged, and signed J. Weiss on the line.

And then almost fell off her chair when the drawing nodded back at her.

"Didn't expect that, did ya?" Dimaccio was clearly amused. "But then, you should have. You've met our friend here before."

"No, I… wait." Weiss saw a small stack of notepaper on her side of the desk. She took a leaf, placed it in contact with the drawing and wrote "Please remove your respirator and helmet" on it. The trooper-drawing nodded again, reached up, and removed its headgear, revealing a face that Weiss immediately recognized.

"Sir, how… how is this consistent with the containment procedures?"

"Ah, well, that's the thing, Specialist. It's not."

Weiss stared, dumbfounded, at the drawing. Once again, Dimaccio grinned, but this time said nothing more. Weiss realized that she was expected to fill in the blanks herself. It didn't take long.

"But… I thought we didn't do that anymore."

"In general? We don't. That whole clusterfuck with Omega-7 was an exercise in throwing shit at a wall and seeing what stuck, except none of it stuck and the entire wall almost came down. But in very specific cases, we can still make exceptions."

"I didn't know that."

"Course you didn't, Weiss. It's need to know. Like most of the shit in the Foundation. Eight-Five here sometimes gets to come out and play with us because… you know what? I'll let it tell you." Dimaccio took the piece of paper and wrote, in neat capitals, "EXPLAIN TO SPECIALIST WEISS WHY YOU GET TO WORK WITH MTF THETA 90" across the top.

The drawing looked up, nodded, then looked outward, moving its gloved hands in what Weiss immediately recognized as ASL. SIGN YOU, with eyebrows raised: Do you know sign?

Weiss blinked, then wrote on her notepaper. {Yes.}

Good. My name is Cassandra. I haven't got a last name, so I just have to use Eight-Five. The drawing did not look particularly happy about this. Commander Dimaccio tells me we've met before.

{Yes. I was required to talk with SCP— with you for an hour as part of my previous assignment.}

I'm sorry. I don't remember. I talk to so many of you.

{Why} — Weiss hesitated, then continued — {are you here? I mean with us.}

The drawing smiled ruefully. Because of what I am.

{I don't understand.}

The drawing moved slightly, frowned, then resorted to fingerspelling. T-H-E-T-A 90 can use someone who exists in two dimensions.

Dimaccio saw the look develop on Weiss' face. "You think it's kidding, Specialist? Since I've been with this Task Force we've encountered uncontained two-dimensional anomalies on seven — no, sorry, eight — occasions. Some of those, we'd have been screwed if we didn't have Eight-Five to deploy." He glanced down. "Speaking of which, it has training of its own to get back to." Dimaccio wrote "85, RECOMMENCE EXERCISE" on the page and placed it back into its folder, looking back up at Weiss. "There's a drawing of a ruined city in there. Eight-Five is working on its UO skills. Don't worry, it can't get out."

"Sir.. shouldn't the HMCL for SCP-085 be the one to dictate—"

"Specialist, I am the HMCL for SCP-085."

Weiss was totally lost for words.

"What are we supposed to do, Weiss? I know it's not conventional. But considering we have literally zero fucking options other than Eight-Five when it comes to dealing with 2D anomalies, it was the only choice. Besides, it was going as close to stir crazy as I guess you can tell for a walking, thinking drawing. I heard about the situation, pulled some strings, gave some presentations, kissed some serious ass, and here we are."

"Not everyone would agree with… that approach, sir." Weiss' tone made it clear she counted herself in that group.

"Yes, Weiss, I know. And I get it. We don't want to turn into the Gock and keep trying to use anomalies against anomalies. Half the time it literally blows up in their faces. But there are some pretty fucking rare occasions when you just don't have a choice. You have to pick your battles in this line of work, Specialist. When you can." Dimaccio fell silent.

"So, uh. Was that a training assignment, sir?"

"What? Fuck no." Dimaccio pulled out another, rather thicker, folder. "That was just a little familiarization exercise. This is your training paperwork. Sign the disclaimer and then start with Section 1." A smile. "It shouldn't take you more than eighty or ninety hours of work."

"Yes, sir."

"If you rush through."

"…Yes, sir."

"Okay." Dimaccio jerked his thumb towards the door, still smiling. "Good afternoon, Specialist."

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