Denton and McDowell Save Sixty Dollars
rating: +38+x

April 7, 2016 T-Minus two years from The Incident

Agent Sam Denton flipped through a Sports Illustrated in the back of the cramped coach bus to Portland, his partner Agent Jim McDowell seated in the overly padded and potentially anomalously uncomfortable seat next to him. His eyes scanned over the page, skipping over the text of an article about a rival team. "Fucking Patriots," Sam said, muttering over his bristling mustache.

Agent McDowell turned his head from the window, eyes glazed as they passed through flyover country. He raised an eyebrow. "Sam, that issue is like three years old. I swear I've seen you read it like ten times," McDowell said. He shifted in the seat to face towards his partner, tapping his fingers on his knee as he did. The heavy pewter ring on his third finger, right hand stood inert for once.

Sam didn't look up as he continued to scan the page, an identical ring on his own hand mercifully silent as well. "Yes, and every time, I still get pissed off. I swear to god, they should have been thrown out of the post season. Deflategate was bullshit. We could have won that game."

Jim rolled his eyes and turned his head to look out the window. "Yeah, sure. The fact they were eleven and five, and hadn't beat the Patriots in years had nothing to do with it." He turned his wrist slightly, checking the time.

Sam put the magazine down, and turned to look at Agent McDowell, "Oh bullshit. They could have won it, there's such a thing as an underdog, you know." He stowed the magazine in the backpack at his feet, withdrawing a protein bar as he did. He unwrapped the processed carbs and protein and wolfed it down in three bites.

"Uh huh, sure. The Colts could have won it, just like that powerbar stood any chance against you, eh?" Jim's face split into an easy grin as he ribbed his partner.

Sam's hand shot out, smacking Jim in the stomach off-handedly as he finished the power bar. "Oh fuck off, I stress eat. Always have."

Jim shrugged, "Yes, but we're no longer young salty agents, running around, burning calories. We're on a bus for chrissakes, since someone didn't want to fly. Try dieting." He reached down to his own backpack, pulling out a small bag of baby carrots, crunching a few down.

"Listen, I'll start dieting when your sister stops hitting on me every time I see her on-site," Jim's face had distorted into the usual vague annoyance. For one, he didn't have a sister. For two, Sam was nothing special to look at, "She can't resist my charms. I'm telling you man, she's all over me every time—"

The bus rocked; a loud clanging shook the superstructure of the heavy vehicle. The bus skidded to one side, then the other, both agents snapping to attention and bracing themselves against the seats in front of them.

The other passengers let out various shouts and sounds of alarm as the tires made a tortured noise.

The bus careened off the road, and came to halt a few feet into the grass beside the lonely stretch of highway. Sam looked over at Jim, holding his breath momentarily. "You alright?"

Jim nodded, eyes scanning around the road for signs of trouble. A few tense moments passed, before he let out a breath, "Maybe it was just the serpentine belt snapping or some—" As one, both Agents' thaumic rings started to buzz. Something within a mile of them was anomalous. The buzz intensified until it came to a quiet hum, shaking their fingers. Whatever it was, it was strong, and it was practically on top of them. "Well. Fuck me sideways."

Agent Denton disgengaged the seatbelt and stood, walking towards the front of the bus. He stopped and asked each passenger if they were alright, tacitly passing his ring-hand closer to each one as he 'checked for injuries'.

Agent McDowell strode past Denton, and approached the bus driver. He flashed some fake credentials which listed them as FBI agents, "What happened?" he asked the bus driver.

The elderly bus driver wore a too-large set of pants and a white shirt. His eyes were practically the size of quarters from the stress, and his hands shook. "I have no idea, officer—"

Jim held up a hand, "FBI has agents. Police has officers."

The bus driver looked taken aback for a second, before adjusting himself and nodding. "Sorry uuhh… Agent. I uhh, I don't know, it just says somethings wrong with the engine, I was gonna take a look." He reached down, and pulled the door release for the main door of the bus.

Jim waved him back, and smiled, "Sir, let my partner and I take a look first, make sure nothing dangerous is out there, okay? Don't let anyone leave the bus."

The elderly man nodded, and sat back down, pulling out the small radio from the intercom. "Attention folks. These two men are with the FBI and are nice enough to check out the back of the bus for us. Everyone stay put for a minute, until they say, all right?"

A quiet murmur of assent went through the passengers, as Denton and McDowell dropped out of the bus and on to the slick grass that bordered the long stretch of road. Both agents drew service pistols from beneath their jackets, and Sam slipped in front of Jim, taking point position. Jim tapped him on the shoulder, and the two advanced towards the back of the bus.

Nothing jumped out at them as they approached the engine compartment, which was always good. The two circled wide around the side of the bus, and checked under the bus for potential threats. They approached the engine compartment cautiously. The back panel of the bus had been blown off around where the skid marks started from the road. A steady stream of components from the engine trailed to the slightly smoking ruins of the back of the vehicle.

Jim frowned, "I think it's broken."

Sam slapped his forehead with his palm, "You're an idiot, Jim. Of course it's broken. What happened?" He holstered his sidearm, and pulled out the multitool on his belt, snapping out the mini pry bar. He peeled off the last bits of plastic surrounding the engine cover, and took a step back. His eyes narrowed, and he grunted. "You recognize that?"

Jim nodded, holstering his own weapon. "That's a Scranton Reality Anchor. Or at least a close approximation of one, I've never seen one jerry rigged into a bus before." Jim's eyes raised up to the passenger compartment of the bus. "Sam, I think we should break out something a bit heavier than track suits."

Agent Denton turned and looked his partner up and down quickly, "Okay, only one of us is wearing a track suit. This is a speedsuit." He circled to the back luggage compartment, popping open the compartment they'd stored their suitcases in.

Agent McDowell hefted his suitcase on to the ground, his finger slipping under the handle to swipe on the biometric scanner. The top portion of the suitcase hinged open, revealing a small armory of various bits of gear the Agents could use. The suitcases could carry precisely two shirts and a toothbrush, but when you needed an assault weapon, you needed an assault weapon.

He lifted out the set of compact body armor, and peeled off the two films which covered the mid-chest and spine sections, "Whatever, Rusty Venture. Make sure you engage the hume-res." Both had multiple warning labels on them. Each strip would provide a low-level resistance to hume-fluctuations. It wasn't much and it didn't last long; but it could be all the difference between life and death.

He stood, the heavy web belt slipping comfortably under the small gut that had formed in the past couple of years. The boys over at Site-127 had created some of the devices on the belt, and one could never have enough high explosives. Lastly, he traded out his ring for a significantly heavier bracelet. It contained enough gear to figure out what was going on. Theoretically.

"Yes, dad," Sam said, peeling the cover off his own highlighter yellow hume-res strips. "You ready?"

"Yeah. Let's go figure out what's up," Jim said, trading out the smaller caliber pistol for a larger pistol which had been re-chambered for ammunition that was a felony to possess in this jurisdiction.

Sam boarded the bus, smiling easily as he did. The jacket of his tracksuit covered the body armor, not that muggles would even recognize the tech as armor to begin with. It looked like a particularly bulky t-shirt under his jacket. "Hey folks. So something looks to have gone pretty majorly wrong with the bus, and we'd like to have everyone get off, so we can be sure everyone's safe. If everyone could get off in an orderly fashion, and just line up outside the bus?"

A few murmurs went through the crowd as Sam stepped off the bus, waving the passengers by. As he did, he tried to get a feel for each person that passed by, glancing at the readings from the bracelet on his right hand. A few of them provoked a reaction as they went by, and Sam made a mental note to ask them questions later.

The passengers were restless as Jim walked over to join Sam, "Did you get a reading from the skinny kid?"

Sam nodded, "Yeah. His mom is setting off a couple of spikes too. Residual exposure maybe?" He shrugged, and turned to face the passengers. "Alright folks, we're gonna try and figure out if we can get any help. Does anyone have signal?" Denton pressed a button on the back of his belt, triggering the selective jammer.

No one's hand went up. Perfect. "Alright, I think I might be able to reach a nearby FBI office on the short-wave, if we're lucky. Everyone take a seat on the grass, or just relax. Is anyone hurt at all?" More murmurs of negatory, and he turned to his partner once more. "We should radio in."

Jim nodded, pulling out the compact radio from a compartment on the belt, swiping his finger across the biometric scanner on the top. It chirped to life, and a tinny voice came across, "Sigma 22, come back?"

Jim clicked the button on the side of the radio, "Sigma 22, copy. This is Rho and Delta reporting on leg 25. Request secure confirmation, over."

The voice clicked back, "Copy that. Rho and Delta, which grave lays empty on Lincoln's watch?"

Jim pressed his finger against the biometric scanner as he clicked the button once more, "His secretary Bill, of course."

The voice clicked once more, "Confirmed secure agents. What's the situation?" Jim gave a cliff's notes version of what happened so far.

"Requesting permission for provisional interview and containment. Additionally, we're going to need amnestics and transportation for at least twenty. Potentially twenty two."

The voice at Foundation dispatch paused for several seconds, "Noted. The only MTF we've got in the area are the Oathkeepers. Will you require any special tools or objects?"

"Unknown. We'll contact with further details. Please get comsat as soon as possible, we're enabling throat mics." Jim lifted the microphone to his throat and closed his eyes as the shock of the embedded microphone alongside his ear bones activated. "Confirm connection."

The voice from Foundation dispatch came through as if it was right behind him, "Confirm." Sam's voice followed a moment later.

A few minutes of separating out the passengers into potentially anomalous and non-anomalous, Sam Denton sat across from a mother and her son. "So, where are you coming from, ma'am?"

She looked around for a second, before looking back at Agent Denton, "Why does that matter? I thought this whole thing was an accident or something?"

He smiled in a reassuring way and nodded. "Of course, I'm sorry. Force of habit, agent, and all that." He let out an easy chuckle. "Why don't you tell me a little about yourself. You're the only one with a child on board, I figured I'd check up on you is all."

She relaxed slightly, smiling back nervously, "We're coming from Tulsa, to live with his father. He moved up north for work, and we're following now that he's got a place up there."

Denton nodded, "That makes sense. My wife is out west a ways, I'm in Washington all the time, for business. I feel like I live on these buses." He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out another power bar, offering it out, "Hungry?"

She took it from him, and unwrapped it, smiling a little more genuinely. She broke off a large piece, and handed it to the young child in her lap. He couldn't have been older than four, with slightly gangly arms and legs. Something was definitely off about the kid. In his head, he heard Jim's voice to dispatch, "Foundation HQ, incoming scan data. Please parse and return."

"Confirmed, parsing…" Several seconds passed, "confirmed anomalous readings. Subject is forward of non-anomalous female. She's only putting off exposure levels. Subject voice pattern indicates Janet Sinclair. Former foundation employee, presumed dead after an incident last year."

Sam's heart sank. The kid. Of course it was the kid, what else could it be. Jim grimaced, and subvocalized again, "ETA till Oathkeeper arrival with containment gear?"

Dispatch clicked into both of their heads, "One moment." Several tense seconds passed, "Level 4 override just came through. You need to find out where that SRA came from. Exposure is authorized."

"Lethal force?" Jim said, his tone hopeful.

"Do you have on-hand amnestics?"

"No," the hope fled from his voice.

"Authorized and recommended." The voice clicked out with finality. Jim wondered to himself who made that call. Twenty-odd lives just the cost of doing business to potentially bushwhack a four year old.

Sam sat still for a moment, before sighing, "Ma'am, can I ask your name?"

She smiled, her head tilting slightly, "Janet."

Sam's eyes grew heavy and regretful as he locked on to hers, "Janet, where did you get a Scranton Reality Anchor, and why are you escorting the anomaly?"

Janet froze, her eyes going wide. She backed up slightly, her back running into the legs of Agent McDowell. "I-I don't, what do you m-mean?"

Sam looked down at the information scrolling across his phone from dispatch, "Janet Sinclair. Level-2, dealing with the containment of several bio-weaponry SCP objects. Also presumed dead, along with the destruction of outpost-27-Gamma. That explains where you got the SRA. Now explain it," he gestured to the child in her arms.

Janet started to sob, lowering her head into her chest, "A-after the explosion at the outpost, there was no one left. Doctor Mayer was dead. We'd been experimenting on children. Children for christ sakes. I couldn't do it anymore. I took the little one, and ran. I've been keeping the SRA powered out of my apartment, but then…they found us."

Jim subvocalized, "Confirm the purpose of Outpost Gamma-27". Dispatch clicked back, "Apologies agent, above your clearance." Jim subvocalized something curt under his breath, not activating his mic.

Sam nodded, his demeanor caring, but tense. He was ready to pounce at the first sign of trouble, but until it happened she didn't need to be bullied. "Who was it?"

"The Sarkics. They want Tommy," she gestured to the child who had fallen asleep in her arms, "He was a creation of them, some kind of bio-engineering. The reality anchor helped to suppress his abilities, and we've tried to keep on the move…" Her face was heaving now, expressing twitches in time with the heavier sobs.

Jim squatted down next to her, and offered her a tissue. She blew loudly into it, and clutched the child closer. "I w-won't let you take him. Not to be experimented on again." Her eye had begun to twitch, but her gaze was steadier.

Sam shook his head, "Look, I'm not trying to bring anyone in. A bus exploded. There was a freakin' Scranton Reality Anchor in the back. We're doing our jobs. Obviously the kid isn't dangerous, he's just a kid. I don't think they're gonna try and lock him up." Sam put his various equipment back on his belt, and leaned forward to place a reassuring hand on to her forearm, "I'm sorry your experience was so traumatic. I think it's time you come in, and we get Tommy the help he needs."

She nodded, and a comfortable silence enveloped the three, as they waited for the containment team.
A half hour passed, as they spent the time commiserating over Foundation experience. Janet had grown quiet, but wasn't resisting. Mostly she'd stayed against the bus, occasionally letting out a shaky breath.

Jim cocked his head to one side, holding the soiled tissue in his hand still as he couldn't shake a feeling. "Dispatch, I'm sending a sample to you. Analyze and return, humanoid profile, confirmation of Identity. The works." He swiped the small swatch of mucus and a bit of blood along a small paper strip, which he slid into the bracelet.

Sixteen seconds later, a voice clicked in from their microphones, "Confirmed. Subject is not Janet Sinclair. Subject shows DNA comparable to Incidence Gamma-27 analysis."

Jim immediately clicked his microphone, "Elderberry."

Sam hesitated for a microsecond, before rolling backwards as fast and hard as his aging frame would let him. He took two sprinting steps before turning as he drew his pistol.

'Janet' looked confused for a half-moment before her face distorted into a snarling rictus. She bolted to her feet, her fingers melding together into a grotesque tentacle, leaping towards Denton. She screamed and flung her other arm forward, a chunk of flesh hurling off of it towards Agent Denton. He tried to dodge to the side, but the wet chunk of ick tracked his movement, aimed directly towards his heart. The sticky glob of bloody skin slapped against the bright yellow hume-res on his vest, sizzled for a moment, then sloughed off. The section of hume-res burned to a smoky black powder and flaked off.

Agent Denton emptied his service pistol at the rapidly mutating creature in front of him, trying to brush off the ashes from his vest. "Janet" jinked out of the way of every shot, her limbs extending into impaling claws. She closed the distance between her and her quarry.

Agent Denton, to his credit, didn't flinch. His hand blurred down to his waist, drawing the long knife from the scabbard on the back of his belt. The blade was inset with various bits of circuitry and fitted with a heavy black guard and pommel.

Janet's razor sharp claw streaked towards Agent Denton's face, whistling as it parted the air, now only a couple of steps away from Denton's vulnerable flesh.

Agent Denton gripped the handle harder until it clicked, the crossguard of the heavy knife flipping open to reveal metal contacts. He sidestepped, and brought the blade of the knife straight up in to the joint of Janet's elbow, his fingers touching the two contacts under the guard. A jolt of electricity streaked from the handle in to the crossguard.

Janet's arm writhed for a moment, overwhelmed by the electric pulses streaming in to her brain. Agent Denton rushed forward two steps, his free hand gripping her wrist, which had become slick with both ichor and regular human blood. He turned his body, and forced her wrist back in to her pulsating chest. Denton yanked down on the bottom of the knife, pressed between her body and her arm. The knife sprouted two heavy steel prongs from the eye of the crossguard, trapping her flesh in a tight pretzel. "Any fucking time now, McDowell!" He yelled, as he kicked at one of her knees, forcing her down to one good leg.

Janet's body writhed with boneless grace, as her other arm reached over her own head, centimeters away from his face. The arm started to lengthen, the bare bones from her flung hand arching towards Sam Denton's eye. He swallowed hard, muscles straining against the strength of the monster pressed against him. I swear to god, if I survive this I'll start lifting again, just don't give out on me yet. He thought to himself, praying to every deity he could think of, and several he made up on the spot.

From behind her, six bullets rang out in rapid succession, turning the rapidly shifting woman into something resembling paste, as the explosive rounds did their job. The small child she was escorting remaining motionless on the ground, several meters away.

Sam let out a shaky breath, as he clicked the various bits of the knife back in to place, wiping it off on his vest before replacing it in its scabbard. "By the mother of Las Chupacabras, could you have cut it any closer?"

Jim leveled his weapon at the passengers of the bus, waving diffidently at Sam, "I'm only going to say this once. Everyone stay put, and everything will be fine. No one else is going to be shot. But if you run, I will kill you."

The passengers, to their credit, either froze or sank to their asses in shock. Sam padded over to the small child, turning it over. With a closer look, he realized it wasn't a child at all, but a man with dwarfism. Sam reached into his belt, and administered the syrette of broad-spectrum stimulants to counteract whatever was in his system. He took a quick hair sample, and plugged it into the bracelet getting an immediate DNA read. "Doctor Mayer?"

The man blinked owlishly up at the agent, as he woke from the groggy haze he'd been put under, "Where am I?" his voice was tinged with a heavy German accent. "And who are you?"

Jim looked over at Sam, and shook his head, "I swear to god, Sam. You had to insist on saving sixty bucks with a bus ride."

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