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Janet hadn't even noticed that the pot of coffee was no longer in her hands, nor the wet feeling in her shoes. She hadn't really noticed anything in the past few seconds.


"I wonder what projects we'll be assigned to now."

Janet sank further into the chair.

"It's all so, unreal. They tried everything! I spent years keeping that thing in place for them so they could poke at it, and now no one's telling me how they did it."

Her watch had been ticking away for a solid seven minutes so far, and Sam still hadn't given her the money.

"I mean, it is pretty suspicious. If it wasn't for the situation I'd have thought it's a cover up. Just another thing above our clearance."

Crouched tightly against the floor, Sam could just about stick their arm under the cabinet. They hadn't realised how much stuff had built up in the office over the past few year, and already had several boxes full of crumpled files and broken staplers.

"What is it with you and your clearance? We know it's dead anyway, there's no two ways about it."

"Yeah, yeah. I know, believe me. You wouldn't be getting your fifty dollars otherwise. The whole thing is crazy though, and it's all happening so fast. You aren't even the first person to collect bets. I don't know if I'll still have any money for food left this month soon."

The broken stapler was still out of reach, and their arm was really starting to hurt.

"Well, you've no one to blame but yourself."

Janet glanced at her watch. Still no money.

"Do you think Aidan has found out yet? I haven't seen him in the building at all today."

Despite not being able to see under the cabinet, they managed to locate the stapler. Sam lurched, shoving their fingers towards it. Victory burned in their eyes. The stapler slid away.

"No, me neither. I did hear he would be working on-site a lot more though, so I doubt he's missed it."

The door creaked open, and a nervous face peaked in.

"Hi, um, Dr Stiegler told me to tell you guys that most of those files are gonna need to be burnt or something, so make sure all the classified stuff is in a different box if you wanna keep anything."

"Janice! Jan my man, you work in the B-wing right?"

Turning around, she saw a short figure waddling across the break room towards her.

"It's Janet. Um, no, sorry. I got transferred to wing-A back in March. Is something wrong?"

"Where is everybody? I can't find anyone from down there, and I know they still have some of the stationary I lent them. I'm trying to get it back before it gets 'redacted'."

Janet adjusted her collar. The last thing she needed right now was a demotion, and keeping track of little things always looks good on a containment specialist.

Across the hall, a shaking intern fumbled out of a door. Stiegler had a reputation for being irritable, but if she was leaving people in this state then a higher paycheck wasn't likely.
Not to mention most people had already been reassigned, taking the good jobs with them. She was a little disappointed with how few of her colleagues had said goodbye to her though.

"Oh, you were one of the containment people right, um, what was it?"

"Janet. Yeah, I was. Was she hard on you?"

The intern leant against a wall and breathed out.

"No, just a little, intense. Did you help kill it? I keep on asking how it happened but everyone's really hushed about it."

"That's the researchers's job, not mine. We just keep it in place. They won't tell me either, if it makes you feel any better. Hope the next assignment goes well, anyway."

They rolled their eyes.

"1689. I've heard it's not too bad, but is anything here not terrible?"

The door opened again, this time a little harder. Dr Stiegler's stern face peered down at her.

"Oh. You. Come on in then."

She squinted her eyes. The single functioning light in the foyer was flickering aggressively, and it was giving her a headache. The past twenty minutes had been spent cycling between fiddling with her pen, stretching, staring at the clock, and thinking about reinforced steel cages. One of the doors to the room rattled.

"Sorry about the delay. Normally the site director would do the briefing but we're a little understaffed so I'll be doing it instead. I'm Dr. Matton, the head researcher for 835. Call me Francis."

The man stopped, his eyes locked with Janet's.

"One person? One? Are you kidding me? I asked for at least fifteen people, heck the last time a major project closed we ended up with over twenty, and I didn't even ask for anybody."

"I thought I had missed the briefing."

Francis scowled and shook his head.

"If only. They let half the facility go on holiday at once and only send us one new worker. I can't believe it! They didn't even tell me before hand so I could make preparations, not like they ever tell me anything!"

The man lead Janet across the room to a dimly lit corridor. The only light was flickering even more aggressively than the one in the foyer.

"More power cuts? I can't believe it. At least Stiegler sent us someone competent. Keeping that thing in place must have been a hell of a job, where did you even get that much acid? It's a good thing they finally killed it though."

Several corridors and security doors later, Janet had lost the last of her ability to pay attention. At least as a member of the containment team she wouldn't have to share an office with him. He finally paused and turned to open one of the rooms connected to the corridor.

"This is the crappy break room. The good one is in the other side of the building which has been closed off. Can you believe how filthy this place is? I bet the cleaners have gone on holiday too."

"And, um, as you can see in table G, less than three percent of the experimental group still experienced traumatic symptoms after the week long exposure period, while only two percent of the control group reported similar results."

Maria stopped. Throughout the meeting, the committee had remained as lifeless as ever, only occasionally sending an emotionless question in her direction. This time they stayed quiet.

"Two, two sorry. Two of the members of the control group reported similar results."

Scanning over her notes, she turned back to the screen.

"Additionally, a standard week long course of class A amnestics was effective at fully restoring awareness to the patient in over 95% of the experimental group. Since staff thinking that the thing they're containing doesn't need containing is an obvious no go, this would open the option up of allowing staff to receive the treatment without leaving their project."

A few members of the committee glanced at each other. One even changed expression.

"What standard course of amnestic is that? Class A amnestics are typically single use."

"Oh, um, the amnestics team wrote class A in the report. I can send an email to one of them now, if you'd like."

"No, please carry on with the presentation. We will file for a competency review afterwards."

"Okay, um. I was a member of the memetics team, not the amnestics team, just in case you, never mind. So, in terms of the initial exposure to the agent, we used a new memetic transfer technique based on some of Reyes's work. Since it was engineered specifically for this project, the process ended up being very cost effective, and the exposure is almost effortless."

Maria gestured across the room to the observation window.

"To demonstrate, here we have D-2134, a survivor of the recent 682 containment breach. As I'm sure you've noticed over the past few minutes, they're currently seriously distressed. We've been playing recordings taken during the breach in order to cause that."

The committee had indeed noticed the screaming child in the adjacent room. At least one member was very excited about it.

"All we have to do is display an image carrying the agent to the target, and you should see the relief begin immediately."

She pushed a button on her laptop. The committee stared at the crying girl, and after a short while, she pushed the button again. When this did nothing, she decided to hold it down. The door slammed open behind her, and the room turned to see a very frustrated woman in the process of pulling out an ear piece.

"Stop it! If you wanted me to shove an image in her face you should have got it cleared for testing first. They wouldn't even let me give it to one of the blind specialists!"

The committee murmured. She could feel her name being added to the list for review, along with the amnestics team.

"What, oh. I swear I sent them all the paperwork. I think I still have one of the prototypes in my bag though, but it might be a bit infectious."

The committee murmured a bit louder. Rummaging through her satchel on the desk, Maria could feel her name being added to an even nastier list.

"I swear it's in here somewhere. Maybe I left it behind when I moved offices."

This time you could almost make out what the committee was saying, and as one gray face added Maria's name to a much, much nastier list, another took the opportunity to turn the person sitting next to them.

"682 containment breach? I thought they killed it."

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