A Team You Can (Maybe) Trust
rating: +42+x

Three Weeks Ago

Dir. Light's recruitment drive did not start the way she'd planned it to.

Like most incidents after she joined the Foundation, this one began in her completely uninteresting office. It was neither strictly clean like Kiryu's, nor cluttered like Kingsley's. It wasn't cramped, but it wasn't spacious and grand. It wasn't covered in cherished memorabilia, but it wasn't devoid of it; a few major awards and a couple photos of her with her parents, both deceased.

Light's office was, in fact, boring. Anyone walking in there would find absolutely nothing of note; no access to anything private, but not completely absent of anything personal. She wouldn't have it any other way. Walking into her office would teach you absolutely nothing about Dir. Light.

Light's day had been as boring as her office. A few meetings "regarding" Alpha-9, only tangentially related to the team. A few phone calls trying to sift through the sludge of bureaucracy, because apparently, nothing short of a DNA test and three days of security questions could confirm that she was Dir. Light. The most interesting thing in her day thus far was the BLT she had for lunch; the new sauce they were putting in the cafeteria sandwiches was simply divine. Anything actually concerning her wouldn't happen for the next few days, after she made it through the hopeless maze of red tape. All in all, a very uninteresting day.

She walked into her office at four o'clock, to complete another wave of busy work, expecting a bland, generic office. Instead, she saw a shadowy figure standing by her desk.

Light reached into her pocket and clicked a button on her keychain, alerting security that there was an emergency at her location. Since her office wasn't near the actual containment wings, it could take backup up to a minute to prepare and arrive. She needed to stall.

The figure heard the creak of the door opening and turned to face Light, its face remaining in shadow. It looked vaguely male, but the shadows overlaying it obscured it so much and in such an unnatural way that it was clearly anomalous. She kept her hand on the doorknob, ready to close it in case the figure came after her. It would likely be a useless gesture, buying her a second or two at best, but it gave her a small amount of solace knowing that she had some semblance of a plan.

"Hello," she said. She decided to start with some basic questions; buying time and learning more. "Who are you and what are you doing in my office?"

Light was expecting just about anything from someone who broke into a Foundation site. Almost anything. What she wasn't ready for was the entity to reaching out an apparently friendly hand and dramatically exclaiming, "Director Light! It's a pleasure to meet you! We have much to discuss!"

Light did not shake his hand. "You didn't answer my questions."

"But of course! I am…" He gestured theatrically. "The Specter!"

Light's momentary shock at the bizarrely comic entity had already faded, and she found herself thoroughly unimpressed. "Wow. Great. Mind telling me what you're doing in my office?"

The Specter marched to the other side of her desk, and Light slowly approached. "I've come to speak with you, of course!" he said, "You are preparing a team, a squad of heroes, correct?"

"Perhaps." Light was carefully to avoid giving away too much information. It was clear that the Specter had substantial knowledge of Foundation operations, but he could easily be trying to learn more from her. "What's it to you?"

Once again, he made a dramatic pose. Light made a humorous note to introduce him to her cousin; the Specter seemed like just the type for a theater boy like him.

"Isn't it obvious! You are assembling a team to uphold the most sacred laws: the laws of physics!" He took a slight bow. "It is my duty, as one who has sworn to protect this world from those who would do evil, to offer myself in service of such a noble cause!"

Out of everything that had happened in the past… thirty seconds? forty-five? — this surprised Light the most. She had expected a lot of reactions to Alpha-9; intrigue, anger, sabotage, death threats, chaos, failure.

But she hadn't expected a volunteer.

"This may come as a surprise, but we're not just accepting applications. I don't know who you are, if I can trust you, or what you'd bring to the team. Perhaps you could come with security and we'll have a little chat with you?"

"No need for that, Doctor! I am an embodiment of justice! My skills are top-notch, my powers absolute, and my experience with crime-fighting goes back for centuries. Your Foundation members who have worked with me before can confirm my upstanding value!"

Light almost choked. "I'm sorry, what?"

The Specter opened the window. "I'd love to have an official meeting with you in a few days. But for right now, I'll let you consider my proposition." He climbed onto the windowsill. "Now if you'll excuse me, a new update has just dropped for Minecraft, and I, for one, am ready to defend the good piglins from the other dark denizens of the Nether!"

And with a sweep of his cloak, he leaped out the window, shouting, "Have no fear! Justice will always prevail, so long as the Specter is fighting evil!"

A swarm of guards arrived as Light sat down and cradled her head in her hands. She shooed the security away, explaining that it was a false alarm. After a few moments, she opened her laptop, opened a file, and sighed as she typed in her list:

Specter (under consideration)


Two Weeks Ago

Light missed the office.

Was it boring? Absolutely. But it was like a theme park compared to sitting at the other end of the table from an android. Well, more like a mannequin.

The interrogation room was small and dingy, with tan walls, a stainless steel door, and a one-way mirror to really bring it all home. It reminded Light of the interrogation room from Psych, except the supernatural phenomena were a lot more real.

SCP-1360 had hardly moved since Light had arrived. It had moved its head to peer at her briefly when she first sat down, but had since remained still, ignoring the questions Light had asked, and the paper and pen in front of it. Eventually, she opted to remain silent as well, giving 1360 the chance to make the first move.

The benefits of including a self-repairing battle robot with Swiss army knife functionality were obvious. The benefits of an immortal super-soldier with an included repair kit were also obvious. The concern was not with how much firepower or skill or knowledge it could bring, but making sure this thing wanted to be on the team, and whether or not it could be trusted.

After what felt like an eternity, it lifted its head, picked up the pen, and wrote.

This is different.

Light leaned forward. "How so?"

The questions.

1360's joints creaked as it shifted in its chair.

All of you before me only ask what I know. You do not. You make a different request.

Light considered the writing. "Why does that matter?" 1360 waited a few moments before responding.

Anderson abandoned me. My purpose was with him. Now, I must scrounge for meaning. Only I have the information your people had asked me for. Had I given it to you

"You would be obsolete," said Light out loud, before 1360 could finish writing. 1360 nodded, putting down the pen. Light pondered this. It wasn't what she'd been looking for, but perhaps it was exactly what she needed.

"Do you want purpose?" she asked. 1360 remained still for several seconds, before picking up the pen.

Yes.

Light smiled slightly. "Recently, the Foundation has been considering being more liberal with our use of anomalous objects. As part of this, to deal with a specific threat, we are putting together a task force. It will be made partially of anomalous individuals, and, simply put, you're one of our top picks."

1360 was still. Light wished she were dealing with something living, so she could read the expression on its face. Was it shocked? Offended? Pondering? Finally, 1360 wrote:

I will consider this.

Light nodded. "That's all I ask for now. If you have questions or concerns, you can have security send me a message. We'll meet again in a couple weeks."

Light stood up and walked to the door, but before it opened, she heard an intense tapping behind her. Turning, she saw 1360 tapping on the paper. She walked over and looked at what he'd written.

Thank you.


One Week Ago.

"This is ridiculous."

"It's protocol."

"It's a parrot."

"And it's on our list. Demonology expert, telekinetic and telepathic abilities, some semblance of loyalty to the Foundation. All in all, a perfect candidate."

"Doesn't change how crazy it sounds."

"Yeah, well, welcome to the Foundation. How's Lucretia?"

"Doing fine. We'll be moving her down to Theta in a few days. I'll see you then."

"Take care, Deneb."

"You too."

Light hung up her phone and sighed. To most people, she wouldn't seem to be out of the ordinary. But Light was anxious. After months of planning, vetting, fighting, it was all coming together. In one week, she'd have her team.

Light walked into the containment chamber and faced the containment unit. Inside, a Marquis-Class demon, the mighty Phenex, paced its birdcage in the body of a gray parrot. After a moment, it stopped and turned towards her.

"Sophia Light, aged thirty-six, comes knocking at my door. A proposition here to give, but I know what it's for."

Light had already been given the rundown of the parrot's abilities. Even so, the thing unnerved her. She'd never had much of a liking for telepaths.

"I heard they were giving you some poetry books to improve your rhyming structure. Looks like that's working out," said Light.

Phenex sighed. "You come to me with a request, and act like I'm your friend? How horrible that you manipulate, as a means to reach an end."

Light groaned. "Fine then. I assume you're already aware of what I'm asking you?"

"Alpha-Nine, it's looking fine, and you incline, to recruit mine?"

"That last rhyme was a stretch at best."

"You don't want me for my verse, you know that I could cast a curse." The parrot leaned forward. "So tell me why I'd risk life and limb, for your cause I know is grim."

"Because you owe it to us," Light remarked. "You're in containment because you know that stepping outside means Hell's agents will be after you. We're the only ones protecting you."

Phenex stepped back, but Light kept speaking. "They've locked onto you here. And you can't rely on so-called mortals to protect you forever. I'm sure you're aware of what kind of team Alpha-Nine is, so I won't bother explaining it. All you need to consider is that you'll be much better protected when you're surrounded by others with supernatural powers."

Phenex fidgeted nervously. Light knew she'd struck where it counted most.

"I will ponder your request, for me to join your bizarre quest."

"Very well," said Light, "We'll get back to you soon."

One more week, she thought. One more, and everything would be ready.


Yesterday, After the Incident.

Light extended her hand as Lucretia walked into her office. Lucretia took it, and they both shook before sitting down.

"Sorry for the events leading up to this meeting, Lucy. May I call you Lucy?"

Lucy nodded. Her hard face betrayed little emotion, but Light could see a faint concern in her eyes. Out of all the anomalous entities Light had been recruiting, she was most nervous about Lucy. She had much greater knowledge on everyone else, and knew what she could give them. Lucy, however, was new to the Foundation. She might react unexpectedly. All Light could gather was what Deneb had told her.

"Why are we meeting here?" asked Lucy. Her Russian accent was rather thick, but she spoke clearly nonetheless. "I figured your people would keep meetings like this more secure, Miss…"

"Light. Doctor Light." Light smiled. "For starters, you're not technically an anomalous object. You're a Person of Interest. A Sarkic, of course, and a very potent one, but there's no need to assign Special Containment Procedures to you. More importantly, you're amiable. You haven't shown aggressive hostility, and you seem willing to talk. Deneb has told me a lot about you."

"Deneb… Carlotta! Yes. She didn't tell me much of what you wanted to speak with me about."

Light set a folder on the desk and slid it towards Lucy. "I asked her not to. We want to keep this whole thing on the down-low. This will give you the basic rundown."

Lucy picked it up and read through it. Occasionally, she'd ask for clarification on a term or section, and Light would answer, but for the most part, they remained silent. After a few moments, Lucy put the folder down.

"So you're making a team. Like the Avengers?"

Light rubbed her head. "Yeah, sure, like the Avengers."

Lucy laughed. "Interesting! And you would have others like me? A team of people with abilities?"

Light smirked. "Not quite. I'm not going to give too much information, but let's just say that you'll be one of the very few people on our team."

"Well, do they think like people?" Light noted the concern in Lucy's eyes increasing just a bit.

"Yes, most of them."

Lucy nodded. "Then they are people, and they are like me."

Light pondered on this. She hadn't expected someone so empathetic. "Very well then. We won't have just anomalous individuals, of course. Deneb will be there—" Lucy perked up ever so slightly "—along with other agents."

Lucy leaned backwards, staring into space, her face unreadable. Light remembered meeting with 1360, and considered that maybe Lucy really was like the other potential members. Finally, Lucy leaned forward and grinned.

"When can I start?"


Now.

Light knocked on the office door, and opened it upon hearing a woman shout "Come in!" from the other side.

Light walked into the cluttered office. Had she not known Bright, she would have assumed from the young face and the office that she was someone sloppy and who had a habit of making messes. But she did know Bright, and a messy office was just a trait of his he was never able to outgrow.

The man himself (or in this case, the woman herself), sat behind a modest desk, covered in papers. Bright was currently taking the form of a young Latina woman, with one brown and one green eye. Her outfit was simple: a black skirt and shirt, with her hair in a tight bun.

"The answer is no," said Bright. She began filling out forms on her desk.

"I figured as much. Can you at least elaborate on why?"

"For starters, the first person who told me about all this called it 'a somewhat worse idea than the Decommissioning Department,' so right away I was turned off." Bright glanced up at her. "I will say I'm impressed that you've made it this far. You've certainly had your detractors — I think the kids just call them 'haters' these days.

"But it won't last. This isn't any kind of ill will towards you; I respect what you're trying to accomplish. But your team hasn't even officially formed, and you're already dealing with issues, chaos, problems."

Light glared at Bright. "I hope you're not trying to convince me I shouldn't do this."

"I've already accepted that you won't stop. Frankly, I don't think you even could stop this, but that's beside the point. I'm merely explaining why I don't have faith in your little superhero team."

"You think there's a problem with the team?"

At this, Bright actually laughed. "You mean you can't even see it? We had problems with just Able and Iris back in the day. Now look at what you have. A robot who used to work for Anderson, a Sarkic you know nothing about, a literal demon, and a walking pile of film tropes that might realize its employers arent always the good guys. I understand that these are the best you can get, but jeez. And that's just one unit, Sophia. I know all about Iris and Cain. And don't think bringing Dan back is winning you any favors either."

Light stood up. "I was hoping you might bring some new concerns, at least. I've already heard this."

Bright shrugged. "You might do well to listen to some honest critique then. But it's in your hands."

Light began walking towards the door. "Wait," said Bright.

Light turned. Bright walked over to her, put a hand on her shoulder, and sighed.

"I don't want you to fail, Light. I genuinely don't. But I don't see you coming out on top."

"I have to."

"Why?"

She brushed Bright's hand off her shoulder, turning to hide a steely expression. "Because we've come too far to fail."

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