After our usual celebratory swing through a fast food joint, we took the elevator deep below the Tacoma dome again. Colin was pleased we came back in one piece, but seemed very concerned about the Archive. I could tell Tychus was still hurt, and I went looking for him to help patch him up. I couldn’t find him in his usual haunts at the canteen or in his quarters. I later found out he was manhandled by nurse Sylvester – can you imagine a guy like him getting bossed around by a nurse? I’m entirely sure he had something completely different in mind. I know he later went looking for an artist, as I saw him near his quarters with some decorations on the new, undamaged set.
Unable to locate the giant of a man, instead I decided to see if I could aid in … uh… repairing? the Archive. Definitely not a hospital room, I found Jack and the creature in a workshop working diligently to replace broken parts. Fascinated by the process, I did my best to help out, but it was really beyond me. I found my job was mostly to pass tools and parts to the two – what a role reversal! After a few hours, the Archive reported being fully functional, but I was seeing significantly more metal parts than I remembered.
Colin told us we had a late morning debriefing, leaving us with some unexpected free time. I spoke with Colin briefly about the ineffectiveness of my rifle at close range, and my interest in possibly getting some training time with a shotgun, or perhaps even a good old fashioned beat stick. He was dismissive about the topic, and told me he would have a trainer meet up with me after our debrief tomorrow. He was overly curious about the function of my wrist device. I told him about how useful it was, although my desire for a more localized rather than general area impact. I could tell he was surprised, “Its new tech, we’ve never gotten it to work in the field.” I could barely contain my irritation – what kind of para-military organization sends teams out with untested or broken gear. I decided to find Tychus to share a drink and air my concerns, maybe talk about close quarters combat. It seemed he had the same idea, and Jack was also ready to go. Even the Archive seemed less reluctant than normal.
Out on ground level, we hailed a cab, Tychus, in his way, asked for a seedy bar where we could perhaps find some trouble. Cabbie McSteven McGee played dumb for a bit, then finally drove us to a suitable establishment. I have to be completely honest when I say I don’t have good memories of the place, so the bartender’s pourings must have been adequate. I do, however, and rather fondly I might add, recall that the normally impervious Archive actually seemed intoxicated! I dismissed it as excessive fatigue, possibly due to the repair work. Hmmm, I would have expected all of us would be a fair bit more exhausted than we seem to be. What the heck are we doing out partying after such a tough mission? We should be in bed! We got a ride back to base, and crashed for the evening.
I woke up starving, but we were planning a brunch debriefing with the keeper. I’ve never understood the West Coast’s fascination with brunch. I had a cup of coffee which did little to ease my sour stomach. The debrief went remarkably well, Colin was pleased we all came back in one piece, and really, seemed as if he expected us to be more injured than we were. I’m not sure the Archive could have possibly been more hurt. He chuckled at Jack’s reference to the rat as “Splinter”. He patiently allowed us to argue out our misconceptions on lycanthropy, paying too much attention to movies, I guess. Archive was very helpful in bringing clarity on this point. Colin calls the rat “Subject A” and assures us it is being hunted by another team.
Having a week until our next assignment, we dove right into training. A quick red-headed kid came in and showed Jack and I some trick in armed close range combat without firearms. Exhausting! Tychus observed and gave pointers here and there. I saw him spit on his thumb and rub an old coin. He later showed us a small handful of shiny coins with an engraved eagle. Having just sold something similar (a guy has to plan for retirement, you know), I knew a gold coin when I saw it. Archive vaguely recognized it, as an “Andoran Eagle, its Galorian”. Whatever that even means. The Archive kept mumbling over and playing with the random bag of junk we pulled out of the cave. Apparently some of the stuff is actually useful – none of it piqued my interest.
Jack and the Archive seemed pretty excited about the implication of otherworldly coins, Tychus was excited about getting actual pay. I asked Tychus for ‘my share’, which he grudgingly agreed to. EIDL has been good about providing what we can think of before we go out on a mission, but I’m concerned about funding needs that we realize while already on assignment.
Jack and the Archive head off to the lab to run some harmonic testing on one of the coins, curious I follow to see what the two brains are up to. Jack pokes and prods the coin, and suddenly, Tychus stomps into the room in full armor carrying a duffel bag full of goodies. “If y’all going to crack that open, and some chupathingies start coming through, I want to be ready!” We laugh him off, but he is deadly serious. Jack runs more experiments, and my short hairs stood up, I was getting nervous, and stopped paying attention to what Jack was doing.
I pulled out a shotgun out of his bag, the big man was not impressed, “I’ll give it back! I just want to have it… in case you are right.” Jack strikes the coin with some sort of tuning fork, drowning out Tychus’ response to my theft. There is a deep hum, my ears popped. In the span of a split second, the coin started vibrating, then expanded to nearly the width of the room. It snapped small, and the air around it bent, then the coin blinked out of existence, and I felt myself being sucked into the bent air, then I blacked out.
I awoke on a small isthmus, with a single tree providing … no shade? I looked to the sky and found a cool yellow sun beating down, and there to the side, a warm purple sun. I blacked out again.