Hotline: Eventide
rating: +49+x

While Sloth's Pit is one of the more animated Nexuses in the United States, greatly distorting the Anomaly Occurrence Value of the entire Midwest, Wisconsin is only the second-most anomalous state. Thanks to the existence of Roadkill County in Oregon, the Pacific Northwest is, from a purely quantitative standpoint, the most anomalous area of the United States. Lesser known than Roadkill County, but equally important, is the city of Eventide— as of writing, it is the largest anomalous population center in the United States. The government does not condone Foundation activity within city limits, and the constant darkness has lead to several members of both its populace and of Foundation personnel becoming somewhat, shall we say, unhinged.

Combined with the wide variety of psychoactive fungus within the Nexus zone, it has become a testing ground for many parapharmaceuticals. Some members of the task force at Site-51 are even used as guinea pigs for new medications, a controversial practice which, nonetheless, Site-51's administrative staff has defended since the late 1960s.

- Dr. Philip Verhoten, The Crossroads: A Study of Urban Anomalous Nexuses in the United States.

Lieutenant William Stoker looked outside at the 3:00 P.M. sky and sighed. Three years living in Eventide, staying in the skyscraper that was Site-51 (better known as Wiley Tower), and he was still getting used to the fact that the sun would never rise within city limits. The city weather was cold, unforgiving, and it was almost constantly raining. Over the past one-hundred years, Eventide had compensated for the rainfall by building up one of the most robust sewer systems in Oregon— but it might not be enough.

Stoker picked up a sublingual spray and lifted up his tongue, coating the underside of it with what the techs had termed "Pepper-Up Potion". Eighteen hours of wakefulness, and he was going to need all of it.

Thunder rumbled outside as Stoker made his way to the elevator, an assault rifle in his hand, and a ski mask over his head. Today, he — and the rest of Sigma-29, AKA "Night Watch" — were going to rob a bank in the middle of the dark and stormy day.

He got a salute from one of the researchers exiting the elevator on his level. He nodded in return, and then climbed in, hitting the override button that would take him straight down to the vehicle bay. A fortified parking garage, it held all of the vehicles owned by Site-51's staff and task force. And most of his squad was already loaded up, with the exception of his superior, Colonel Leah Cibari.

"You're late," she frowned, taking a sip from a special 'nutrient pouch' she carried at her hip. She was looking less pale than usual, which was certainly a good thing— she hadn't been able to take her medication as of late, due to the monthly supply truck capsizing in the middle of Bend last week.

"A wizard is never late, nor is he early. He arrives whenever he chooses to." Stoker smirked back at her.

"You're a Grade-2 Warlock, and we're behind schedule." She tugged him to the van. "The bank's closing in half an hour, and traffic's gonna be godawful in the storm."

"Yes, ma'am," Stoker nodded, getting into the back of the van. Within were the three other members of his squad: Jacob Wexley, former computer scientist who had gotten whammied in such a way that his old line of work was no longer feasible; Kathryn Kramer, their breacher, a blonde woman with one eye replaced by a cybernetic implant; and Susan Smith, ex-CIA, who would normally be the face of this op, should any con artistry be required. As it stood, she could still make for a good amount of muscle.

The van — which allegedly belonged to 'Normal Moving Co.' — zoomed out of the parking garage, turning the corner sharply enough that Wexley hit his head on the van's wall. He growled in pain. "This had better be worth the risk," he frowned. "Why can't we just buy it?"

"The item in question is an artifact that can't change hands willingly— it always has to be stolen. If it isn't, it reappears in possession of the previous owner." Susan frowned. "Honestly, Jacob. We've been over this three times."

"It's almost the full moon, Sue," Kramer chided. "You know how his memory gets around this time of month."

"Is a bank robbery the best way to do it, though?" Jacob asked, scratching at his skin. "We could be more discrete."

Stoker pulled out his syringe kit, and extracted an injector pen with a bright red label on it, which simply read 'the Juice'. "For E-4343 to count as passing into the possession of a new person, at least five other people who aren't the thief have to witness it being stolen." He fiddled with the cap on the pen, and handed ones of different colors to the other three- K.K. got a green one which read 'Burst', Jacob got a blue injector which was called 'Man's Bane', and Susan got a yellow injector which read 'You Can't Handle'.

"Do you always have to name them so weird?" Jacob frowned. "Like, I get this is your girlfriend's hobby—"

"Hobby? She's a parapharmacologist. This is what she does for a living, and she loves it."

Rain pattered on the exterior of the van. The tires screeched on the wet concrete as they turned a corner, and then stopped. "We here?" Smith asked.

"Affirmative." Cibari said through the grille at the front of the van, putting on her mask— while Stoker preferred to stick to a traditional ski mask, everyone else had their own preference. Leah liked her chicken mask; Smith, preferring to reflect her CIA roots, had a mask on which read "M.K. Badass"; Kramer had a simple clown mask; and Jacob had the visage of a wolf on his face. Let it never be said that Jacob Wexley was creative.

"Go in, subdue, get out." Leah popped a liquid gel pill into her mouth; her eyes glowed red behind the mask.

The Bank of Oregon branch in Eventide had a massive skylight above, which Smith chose to aim for when she shot her gun at the ceiling. As the glass rained down, thankfully not hitting any of Eventide's pale populace, rain started flowing into the bank. "Everyone be cool!" she called, her voice modulated by the mask. "This is a robbery. We don't want any of your belongings, we just want to get to the vault."

"Drop your weapon!" a security guard called. His frame was slender and his skin was paper white, not an uncommon sight among the sun-starved population of the town. The lack of contrast between his white skin and light blue uniform almost made it painful to look at him. He was holding a 9mm at them. "Drop it now!"

Jacob stepped forward, his machine pistol aimed at the guard. "This is a MAC-10. It can fire over a thousand rounds per minute, and that pea shooter can maybe manage one-hundred, if you reload fast enough. You really wanna take that ch-"

The guard emptied his clip into Jacob's chest; as the ex-computer technician stumbled back, he pulled out the blue injector he had been given, and stuck it in his neck. The effect was immediate— all of the wolfsbane medication he had taken in the past week was forced out of his body. He removed the mask, vomiting, and as he did so, almost tripled in size, growing fur, and a set of fangs that could bite through concrete. The were-dire-wolf lunged at the guard, pinning him back against the wall.

"We don't want to hurt you!" Leah called, licking her teeth. That much was a lie, coming from her. The pills made her hungry. "We just want to get into the vault. Where's the bank manager?"

There was silence throughout the bank; everyone had gotten on the ground, either kneeling or face-down. Lightning illuminated the bank, and the lights within flickered. "Ah, nuts," Kramer muttered to herself, cocking her shotgun. She blinked her right eye, activating the low-light sensor as the power to the bank was cut off.

"Shit!" Leah ran towards the teller's booths. "The bank's vault seals automatically within five minutes of a power cut. We need to get in there now."

While Jacob kept the lone security guard occupied, the four of them ran to the teller's booths. Leah got there first, her form bursting through the steel grating, and bringing it down on top of the poor bank employees that had hidden under their desks. "The code to the vault," she asked a black-haired Eventideian. "Do you know it?"

"N-no," she insisted. "I—"

Smith leaped over the counter and stuck her yellow injector into the teller's shoulder. She hissed in pain, before becoming transfixed on something in the middle distance. Susan knelt by her, and asked, "Who knows the vault combination?"

The serum worked quickly. "Mr. Muldoon knows. He's in his office, probably hiding in the panic room."

"On it," Kramer nodded, making her way to the manager's office.

The rain from the broken skylight was starting to flood the inside of the bank; already, the agents could feel their socks getting wet inside their boots. The low growl of the werewolf handing the guard emanated as the sound of police sirens started tearing through the rain.

"Goddamn alarms," Susan hissed. "Shouldn't have shot out the glass. Sorry."

The city's government didn't tolerate the existence of the Foundation within city limits. If they were caught here, the organization would disavow them, and they'd most likely rot in jail for a decade or two.

Leah could afford to lose that time, but nobody else could. She popped in another pill, and licked her lips as her tongue trailed out of her mask. "I'll handle them. Gonna try not to kill any."

"Luck, L." Susan nodded, wondering what was taking Kramer so long to get the bank manager.

Kramer's better eye couldn't see shit.

The walls of the manager's office was lead-lined. She couldn't see anything through the walls or floor, on any spectrum. If the panic room was here, she couldn't see it— or rather, that would be the case, if not for the rain.

Lightning briefly illuminated the office, and she saw that there was a conglomeration of debris on a particular point on the floor, in a somewhat squarish pattern. Grinning, she produced a collapsible crowbar from her side, and stuck herself with the syringe that she had been given.

She had used this particular brew so often she hardly felt its effects anymore— no more rush, no more giddiness. She would have to ask Stoker's girlfriend to make her a new batch, something stronger. Or maybe she should just see an addiction therapist.

But that wouldn't be as fun as sticking the head of the crowbar against the floor tiles and yanking it upward. Underneath it, in the panic room's space, was a cowering Eventideian in a black suit. Kramer knew how to get them to talk.

Kathryn Kramer's eye lit up with UV radiation— simulated sunlight. She looked down at him, lifting her mask aside to reveal the shining eye. "You have ten seconds to tell me what the vault's combination is, or I give you sunburn."

"O-okay, okay," the man winced. "It's—"

"8-6-7-5-3-0-9." Stoker punched in the code with a frown; at thirty seconds left, the vault opened. "Seriously?"

"Jenny don't change your number," Smith shrugged, turning on her flashlight. "Right, we're looking for a small statue with a jackal head, maybe a foot tall. You take the deposit boxes on the left, I'll take the ones on the right."

Drawing his crowbar, Stoker started tugging open the safety deposit lockers, one by one. He found bonds, bank statements, jewelry, even whole ingots— but no statue. "I got jack shit," he complained, moving onto the back wall.

Smith had better fortune; on the last locker on her wall, she found a small, granite statue. Grinning, she pulled it out. "I got it. Let's vamanos."

"Vamonos," Stoker corrected. "Vamanos is 'handcuffs'."

"Oh. Let's avoid those." She stowed the statue in her duffel bag, making sure its head was sticking out, and started for the vault's exit. As they entered the lobby, gunfire erupted.

True to her word, Leah wasn't trying to kill any of the officers, but it was damn hard to do.

Her saliva contained an agent which could knock people out in large amounts— with her three-foot-long tongue, it was easy enough to lick the officers, even under the mask. Jacob had already managed to skedaddle, and with good reason. The EPD was using silver ammunition. It didn't hurt her too much, but the wounds would take longer to heal. If it was beryllium-bronze bullets, like the Foundation had, that would be a different issue entirely.

"DOWN!" Stoker yelled from behind her. Leah looked back in time to see him inject "the Juice" into his neck. Her eyes went wide, and she dove past the members of the EPD as Stoker started speaking words of power. Amplified by the thaumaturgical juices flowing through his veins, hell broke loose.

In one second, all of the police officers started vomiting blood.

In two seconds, they were flying through the air, as if being carried by invisible ropes, into the bank's lobby.

In the third second, they had been suspended from the frame of the broken skylight.

In the fourth and final second, Leah found herself, and everyone else, in the van. Stoker was driving.

"Should you really be doing that?" Leah asked. "A four-second dose can kill you, and I don't want to die in a crash."

"I'm fine," he panted, wiping blood from his lips. "Let's get this thing back to Site-51 and get it in containment."

Leah looked at the statue; the inscription at the base was in Greek, and yet it depicted something with the head of a jackal. "This gonna get classified as a proper skip?" she asked.

"Maybe," Smith nodded, removing her mask. "But if so, that means we have more paperwork to write. And paperwork means detox."

"Fuck that noise," Kramer shook her head. "We class this as an AO and leave it at that."

"I think that some of the eggheads are gonna object," Stoker rolled his shoulders. Thunder rumbled throughout the darkened city as they made their way to the one beacon of light that still remained, immune from the power outage— Site-51, which lit up the night.

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