Caesar was displeased. The conversation with the help had proved fruitful, not along the lines he’d expected. He hadn’t received the answers he would need, not to secure the poor souls integrity, nor to satisfy the department head, as he wasn’t sure if it was deceit or decay in the memory. The security chief’s caution was overblown by the scientists reckoning, frankly it was getting in the way of doing this properly. The trust gap could not be bridged given the situation, thus the data gathered in question. He concurred with his initial interpretation. He was in fact,most displeased.


   Walking into Sadler’s office, the lavish corner office of the director of research, the most perturbed scientist steadied himself to make his case. ‘Director, I was hoping I could have a word with you, before this meeting began.’


  ‘You’re hoping, to curry favor before Donovan arrives. You’re brilliant, but an easy read.’


  ‘It is Donovan’s insistance on hiring using that blasted network that my data is incomplete.’


  This at least caused an eyebrow to raise. ‘What do you mean?’


  ‘The assistant is beyond paranoid, almost as much as the chief himself I’d wager, and so won’t tell me why he changed the weapon.’


  ‘likely an accident in handling, it was several proxies that placed it, I’m-


  ‘It would not have been. It was precision alteration, that changed the nature of firing. Some one, tampered.-


  ‘Then the chief was likely correct, in that the network can’t be fully trusted. It’s neither here nor there.’


  ‘With that said’ his tone beginning to hint at exasperation. Caesar had always hated dealing with any of the various talking heads who ran this show. He’d rather have remained oblivious but you don’t get to run your own projects that way. ‘I cannot be sure if the assistant is providing all the details, and before you go on about our more persuasive team members’


   ‘Yes, yes. You don’t trust their honesty after that kind of torture either. We’ve trod that line before. Go on.’


  ‘So, he’s hiding at least that piece of data, which means there’s more. He’s forgotten some things, and his memory still seems fragmented. He’s mostly together, but I have my doubts. So I can’t be entirely sure of the validity, when you add a possible level of dishonesty. We should have used one of our own people.’


  ‘But they’re not nearly as disposable.’


   ‘And we can’t do it again, at least for a time. Veyber already has a team at the site, and near a the chiefs team can tell, it looks like B and B is watching them.’


  ‘I can say the reports are accurate. I checked the feeds myself. Complaining about my methods again doctor?’ The chief of security, Donovan Blake had arrived. Caesar cursed his inability to get through to the Director in a timely manner.


  ‘Yes.’ Caesar replied tersely.


   ‘Science takes time doesn’t it? We would need more than one data point yes?’ a smirk plastered across his face. They’d never been friendly, and he’d always had the feeling the over grown mall cop did it just to irritate him. ‘I know I’m just a dumb guard dog.’


   ‘Quiet the both of you. Sit.’ Rather than continuing to glare at each other, the two visitors complied. ‘I’ve read the report you sent up here, Doctor Monart. I’ll admit, I found my own recollection of it at all rather fuzzy, with just a day or so of gap between. I watched my own recordings, as you’d suggested. I must say, that alone is quite the achievement.’ Sadler’s expression, and tone seemed genuine, as far as the scientist could tell. ‘I think it will give us quite the capability going forward.


   ‘The weapon disrupted your memories sir?’ The security chief’s curiosity clearly piqued. ‘That’s a capability that could be extremely useful.’


  ‘One I wouldn’t be eager to use too often. I’ve have established some odd readings, around myself, the subject, and there’s the photos. I can only guess at what Veyber is pulling from that room.’ Caesar was hoping to sell caution to these two. If his models were correct, repeated firings in a small band of time could be, catastrophic.


  ‘Yes, the pictures of the mattress, that you say are supposed to have a woman tied on the bed yes?’


  ‘Correct, Director. I’m hoping, they won’t degrade any further from there. I’m just hoping all our notes and recordings hold. They’re in a specialized chamber, but this is...all new territory.’


   ‘And with that, I agree with your suggestion that we hold the assistant for further observation, and we’ll avoid using any...stressful means of interrogation in the interim.’


  ‘I think I can win him over at least.’ The doctor attempting his best to look and sound confident, his suspicion that he wasn’t probably degrading that effort.


   ‘No disagreement here. Its what happens after that observation window’ the security chief weighed in. ‘I know you find my methods distasteful, but its possibly a kindness, considering leadership won’t want to spend the resources. I’ve heard stories about B and B and their methods.’


  ‘Can we at least put him to work for us? I’m sure we could find something for him to do. I think he’d be plaint if we-’


  ‘Not without its own risks.’ Blake cut him off.


   ‘Doctor, we can revisit it. Will that ease your nerves for now? Prod the assistant, see if there’s anything he can offer at least. If you can find significant value...I’ll consider it. Otherwise I’ll defer to Donovan’s judgment.


  Caesar tilted his head back, avoiding the directors gaze. ‘I suppose that will have to suffice. Can I tell him those are the terms?’


  ‘I don’t see why not.’ Sander’s replied. Donovan simply shrugged.


   ‘I think that concludes our meeting then. Congratulations again doctor, I look forward to seeing what else you can develop.’ he looked at him sternly, before turning to Donovan and simply offering a nod. He gathered picked up a folder off his desk, and walked on the door. After his two guests had left, the director of research headed to the upper floors.


   Caesar was curious how those meetings went, if only too see what distortions were created. He had suspected that Sadler’s was vying to continue his climb, he wasn’t sure but the fact that he’d always been asked to keep details to other departments scarce supported it, and to be vague in his replies. In return, Caesar had always been allowed a lot of leeway and much freedom to operate, mostly, as he’d seen fit. That has been what drew him to the company to begin with.


   Currently he had three days to observe blocked out, meaning he had that long to try to find a way to save his new assistant. He’d avoided talking to the others, or having them brought to his lab fearing that if he’d seen them face to face, he would be unable to keep the distance emotionally, a state of affairs he was upset to see proven true. Either way, he could try. He’d hoped that would ease his conscious.


==-- In a reality, that was beginning to destabalize.


  ‘We’re in a what?’ Sid looked incredulous, but he had just watched her get deleted from existence, so either he was mad, but he figured he at least owed her the few minutes.


  ‘A temporal’ She held her hands together, moving them from right to left ‘possibility’ chopping the air with each word. ‘Anomaly.’ She smiled, with what Sid suspected was a hint of madness ‘Importantly this reality is collapsing. That’s why it feels weird. Most people won’t notice, but I’m guessing for the first few minutes you were in both places. The library can’t prevent that usually. That or it chooses not to.’ this caused her to frown a bit ‘I still remember when that happened to me, was your hand wasn’t it?’


  Thinking back, it was hard to remember but what she said rang, at least a kind of true. His memory was jumbled, and he’d have sworn, he was dragged off to some lab with a bag over his head. The retrieval crew, talking shit. It felt strange though, tinged with static or something. ‘It just had to be some kind of dream. I got knocked out, I was afraid of that happening.’


  ‘They’re always like this.’ she threw her head back to the ceiling. ‘Why you do this to me Deus. Why!?’ raised hands, shaking. She stood up, grabbing a hold of Sid’s jacket and pulled with surprising force. ‘Fine, we’ll do it the long way. I’m supposed to not exist and you wanna argue with me.’


  ‘It-’ Sid felt part of him rise to the argument, justifying, but his trust didn’t even extend all the way through himself. His ego won out. ‘that is weird, and I don’t have an answer.’


  ‘So you’ll at least humor me then?’ she asked, a sweetness surging into her voice. ‘At the very least, you owe me a drink after shooting me. Let me say my piece okay?’ Turning toward him at the threshold, her form shrinking, eyes tilted upward into his own. He could see what she was doing. Neoteny, a weapon older than spears he imagined, It wasn’t working, but Sid erred on the side of debts, besides hopefully she’d have something like an answer buried at the bottom of all this crazy talk.


  ‘Fine. Yes. I know a place.’ He nudged her out of the doorway. Moving toward the elevator, which he saw, was coming up. ‘Wait, when we get plopped into this other possibility space, or whatever, it doesn’t change too much does it?


   ‘Distorts some details. Timing might get pushed off. Time is the easiest thing to wobble to make stuff work.


   ‘Which means that’s a capture crew, or the like.’


  ‘You sound like you’d know better than me. When they brought me here they took all my gear, so its all on you.’ What they needed was time, and he’d be able to get them a little.


  ‘Check for any furniture, push it into the hall, we’ll block the elevator as best we can.’ Reaching into one of his side pockets, he pulled out a bit of melting clay. He’d thought about using it on the door to the fire escape, but trapping the team seemed like the wiser move. Normally he was using it for entry, but he figured it could get a seal on the elevator. Starting with the seam itself, he scrambled apply it. Pouring on the catalyst it to his satisfaction it looked like it was melting and fusing the doors together.


  ‘There’s not a lot to work with here’ Cavalier added, as she pushed a mattress in front of the elevator, a desk waiting off to the side.’


  He helped her lean the desk into the mattress. ‘we probably only need a couple of minutes. Here’s to hoping they went low-key here. And that we’re lucky. And this thing can hold our weight.’ Slipping off a wrist band, he cut his lucky para-chord bracelet, and handed one end to his accomplice. ‘Tie it into as big a knot as you can manage, I’m gonna see if I can find a place to tie it off.’ Figuring the bathroom would be the best place, he wandered into the one for the floor.


   ‘Suggesting I’m a knotty girl?’ she asked coyly as she went to work.


  ‘You should be wigging out, do you not see me wigging out’ he shouted from the bathroom. Sid was torn. Toilets wouldn’t have the exposed pipe work he was looking for, but he’d need a hammer or something to get through the shower’s tile work. Just trying it tightly around the throne would have to be enough, but would they have enough rope? Questions he didn’t have time to math out, so he set to work tying it off below the bowl. Grabbing the lid to the tank before he left.


  ‘I just kind of presumed that was your default. You look like you’re tightly wound there mister v. Besides, I need to see you work any way.’


   While he wanted to dig into the reasons for that particular remark, he pushed himself to focus, wringing out every scrap from her would come later. Smashing the biggest of the windows with the acquired lid, he made sure there were no sharp edges in the bottom of the frame. ‘Hand me the other end, we’re gonna slide down and hope we end up in a good spot.’ The elevator had stopped, and he could barely make out the muffled yells of the team inside. They were going to need to get exceptionally lucky. ‘Hold this’ he proffered the lid to her.


  She looked at him with a rather bemused expression. ‘You surely don’t think you’re going to be the one holding on to me? You can’t possibly have the grip strength. You’ll break your wrist besides. Neoteny, maybe it had worked, just a little he conceded.


  ‘You-’ he paused ‘You’re right. See you at the bottom.’ He hopped out the window, his hand burning as the chord slid through his palm, praying he’d stop. A thought he hadn’t finished as he did so, the chord strained, his body whipped, slamming him none to gently into the building. Much to his pleasant surprise, he was nearly parallel to a window. He gained entry, much as he’d gained exit.


   She must have been watching, as Cavalier came sliding down within seconds of him tumbling through the window. ‘You’re going to be a fun one I think, but fire stairs yeah?’


  ‘That was my plan, and praying they don’t have some one at the bottom.’


  ‘Or that the goons haven’t decided to just go back down?’


  ‘I said we’d need to get lucky’ he replied as he forced open the door to the stairwell. Their pounding footsteps all they heard as they made their way down.



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