- Date of Story: Early January, 2017
- Main Character(s) Involved: Megan Wilcoxson, Sarah Holmes, Arthur Nielsen, Claudia Donovan, Mrs. Fredric and Mr. Kosan.
- Other Character(s) Mentioned: Steve Jinks and Garrett Scott
This story is the introduction of the new Agent, Sarah "Sari" Holmes, to the Warehouse. Her unique personality, troubled past, and mindset on artifacts is revealed through her first few days on the job.
“Miss Holmes, welcome to Warehouse 13.” Artie said, opening the door for the first time to Sarah.
“So, this is Warehouse 13, huh?” Sarah said, as she stood just outside Artie’s Office, staring at the massive storage area for the first time. It gave her chills, thinking about just how many artifacts were located within its walls. So many stories, and so many secrets.
“Officially, it’s K39ZZZ on the North American Grid,” Artie said, as he walked up next to her. “But I like to refer to it as ‘America’s Attic’.”
“This is an attic?” asked Sarah, surprised at the size of it. “I’d like to see the basement.”
“That's actually the same nickname as the Smithsonian,” said a voice. Turning around, she saw a girl with red hair and a silver streak standing at the door. She was wearing a Sailor Moon shirt and loose blue jeans. Sarah thought she looked fairly young, maybe late teens or early twenties. “No basement or attic, just a bunch of stuff. Except the things at the Smithsonian can’t cause any harm to people.”
“I think I remember you . . . .” said Sarah, thinking hard. “Weren’t you here when I arrived?”
“Yeah, I found you in the field outside the Warehouse while I was checking the F.I.S.H.,” the girl explained. “My name is Megan. Megan Wilcoxson.”
“Sarah. Sarah Mycroft Holmes. But you can call me Sari.”
“Well, it’s time for your tour of the Warehouse,” started Artie, but a device on the desk began buzzing. Sarah knew it was some sort of communications device that the people here used, although the device itself looked rather simplistic. “Oh, that must be Pete and Myka. Hopefully their trip to the Bahamas is going smoothly. Megan, would you mind giving Sarah the tour?”
“Sure!” Megan said, excitement in her voice. “Come on, Sari! Let’s begin the tour!” Grabbing her arm, she dragged Sarah down the stairs and into the shelves.
“So, why aren’t all of these stored more securely?” asked Sarah, noticing how many of them were just sitting on the shelves. She felt a nagging familiarity about artifacts, but mostly how dangerous they were. And the tags she saw didn’t help that fear. Telekinetic torture . . . . Decapitating victims . . . . Turning victims into glass . . . .
“Well, not all artifacts are bad,” explained Megan. “Granted, all of the artifacts here are here for safety’s sake, but there are some which can be used and are actually helpful. Of course, you have to watch what you use. But there are plenty of artifacts whose effects are beneficial, or simply weird. Here, take a look at this one.” She walked over to a shelf with a conch shell on it. The tag read, Easter Island Conch Shell: Allows users to breathe underwater. Seemed harmless enough.
“But what about this Dog Whistle?” Sarah asked, walking across the aisle to the other side. The tag read, Dog Whistle: Summons locusts. DO NOT BLOW WHISTLE. Damage to nearby farms will be catastrophic. “This seems pretty dangerous to leave lying around.”
“There is one thing you haven’t considered,” Megan said. “Artifacts usually require a person to activate. In the case of this Dog Whistle, you need to blow it. The people here don’t use artifacts which can cause damage like this. Honestly, even the safest artifacts could cause damage if you use them wrong. For example, the Conch Shell lets you breathe underwater. But it won’t protect you from the pressure underwater. But if you can breathe underwater, would you think about whether or not you can survive the pressure until it is too late?”
“I guess . . . .” Sarah said, unconvinced. “I still think it’s dangerous.”
“Well, we do have safety precautions of all types, and the artifacts are stored based on how to keep them calm. Of course, some of the most dangerous artifacts are stored with extreme caution. The Dark Vault, for example. But that’s not a place you want to see.”
Seeing that Sarah didn’t look convinced, Megan took her over to the Urban Legend Sector. There were many strange looking artifacts. But they came to one area which had a massive cell covered in a giant purple cloth. Given its size, Sarah was quite surprised that it was stored on the floor.
“What is that?” Sarah asked, feeling an eerie sense from it. “It seems awfully contained considering how the other artifacts around here are stored.”
“This is probably one of the most dangerous artifacts we have in storage,” Megan said, staying far back, though Sarah thought she seemed rather repulsed overall by the surrounding artifacts. “It’s called the Link Statue. This . . . . thing can cause paranoia and insanity, leading to eventual suicide. It also has the ability to teleport on its own, and its aura is so malicious that it caused artifact disturbances in the Dark Vault.”
“If it’s that dangerous, why not destroy it?” she asked. “I mean, if it’s that bad, surely that would be the best thing?”
“Well, this was indeed one case where the Regents had authorized its destruction, considering that we don’t ever destroy artifacts if we can help it. Except that it . . . . disagreed with that fate. It killed that person. So, in order to properly contain it and make sure it can’t cause any trouble, the Regents had Claudia develop this. It’s a six-level containment cell with a constant neutralizer flow. This makes sure that it remains inactive and protects those who pass by.”
“But if it can teleport, how do you know it’s in there?”
“There’s a special sensor inside which will immediately alert the Warehouse if the artifact is removed. The Warehouse will go into a high-security lockdown to prevent its escape. This is a case where the artifact is so dangerous on its own that it has to be stored extremely cautiously. Most of the artifacts are safe enough to store on these shelves without a problem. Those which have a higher risk of activation have special precautions to prevent their activation.”
“So, these artifacts which can decapitate you or make you sadistic . . . . they won’t?”
“Well, not on their own,” Megan said, as she walked out of the sector. Sarah followed quickly. “We keep these artifacts here to prevent bad people from using them. We don’t let governments, companies or heads of state in charge of the Warehouse for that reason.”
Bad people . . . .? Sarah felt something nag in the very back of her head, but it was too far away to make sense. “So, there are people who use artifacts for evil purposes?”
“It would be more shocking if there weren’t, to be honest. But the Warehouse is there to collect these artifacts. We might not be able to keep them away from people, but we can take them out of their hands.” Megan led them along through an aisle with food. Sarah saw food which looked like it should be long moldy or gone, and yet there it was, as fresh looking as can be. Including Nostradamus’ Cherry Jam. Should that look so fresh? And what about the Original Pizza? It looked pretty good for being so old.
Soon, they arrived in an aisle with a whole bunch of parts lying in it. Sarah’s excitement grew rapidly as she realized they were scientific parts, and she ran down the aisle to look at them. “These parts . . . . are these artifacts?”
“Not for the most part,” Megan said, walking down the aisle. “This is the Farnsworth Aisle, where we keep all of Philo Farnsworth’s projects. Just make sure you avoid the right side of the aisle. A lot of those things are still heavily radioactive.”
“What is this?” She came to a projector-looking device. “A Transmutational Three Dimensional Camera/Projector?”
“That is one of the things in this aisle that is an artifact. The camera takes images and sends them to the projector, which projects the images and solidifies them into solid objects.”
“Awesome!” Sarah said, excitement building in her voice. “I had no idea that there were artifacts this cool!” She immediately pretended to take a selfie with the huge camera.
“Well, it depends on what the camera is capturing,” Megan said, thinking back to the stories she heard from Claudia about what happened in Univille when the Projector was active. Apparently, it was bringing movies to life in the town and was caused some trouble.
She sighed as Sarah continued to play with the camera. "Come on, Sari, we don't want to be late for lunch! The B&B has really good sandwiches."
"Sandwiches?" Sarah immediately stepped back from the camera. "Count me in!"
Several hours later, they finally made their way back to the office. They had spent over an hour browsing the Convention Aisle and the Television Section, talking about several different shows that began to pop up in Sarah’s head. By the time they had realized how long they had taken, it was almost lunchtime. And when Sarah realized she had to go to the bathroom, she found out that it isn't a good idea to run into a porta potty without looking to see whether it was a good idea or not. Being inside emptied her bladder immediately, but her clothing reeked of an overnight concert. And it was not a pleasant smell at all.
The good news was that Sarah felt much more comfortable knowing that she was working in a place which was trying to help the world and protect it, and that there were great people whom she could rely on.
At The Bed and BreakfastEdit
A couple minutes later, Megan and Sarah arrived at the B&B in the hopes of grabbing lunch. The newer Agent could see several others members of the Warehouse chatting among themselves on what appeared to be old fashioned corner booths. It reminded Sarah of the times in which she traveled to undisclosed locations in order to collect strange and ultra-dangerous items. But the Bed and Breakfast seemed to release feelings of happiness and joy instead of sadness and dread.
After grabbing their lunches, the two of them sat down in nearby booths. Once she felt more comfortable with her surroundings, and had eaten some of her peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Sarah decided to introduce herself to the group.
A few people responded with their own names, but she could see one person sitting alone who seemed a little lonely. The young woman in question had red hair like Megan's, but with more color. She also appeared to be a highly intelligent inventor in her late teens or early twenties.
Oh, look! Sarah thought. My new favorite person!
Sarah walked up to the other Agent with the brightest of smiles. "Hi! Can I sit with you?"
"Sure." the teen replied. "You must be that new kid I was told about. My name's Claudia Donavan, resident tech genius and all around wiz kid."
Sarah smiled warmly and extended her hand. "Yes, I am. Sarah Holmes, at your service."
But then, just when she was about to say more, something clicked in Sarah's subconsciousness. It was almost as if she know someone was going to appear inside the Bed and Breakfast, but she didn't know who or why. She froze in place, her hair slightly on end, as if she had messed with the Tesla Coil.
Suddenly, there appeared an older, African-American woman with her hair in a tight bun. The woman surveyed the crowd before sitting down at an empty seat. Sarah then realized that the woman was looking for her.
The novice Agent smiled and made her way to the woman, who seemed too overwhelmed in the paperwork she brought inside the B&B to notice. "Hello, Mrs. Fredric. Need any help?"
Mrs. Fredric looked up from her work unemotionally. "And how did you know I'd be here?"
"Well..." Sarah suddenly became very interested in the color of her shoes.
"Your hair is sticking up on end." the Caretaker noted. "I believe that this is your 'radar' sense at work."
Megan raised her eyebrows. "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Radar? Sari, why didn't you tell me you were some sort of superhero?"
Sarah laughed awkwardly, then cleared her throat. "My radar ability is merely vibes magnified by a mixture of technology and artifact power. Unfortunately, because of it, I will always subconsciously know where everyone is, was and will be at any given moment. Including Mrs. Fredric."
She thought really hard before continuing, hoping to find more information buried deep in her mind. "Due to my ability being so focused on people, I would have to know that person before being able to track them. However, there are some people who are very secretive, and thus, wouldn't want to be part of any sort of mental 'radar system'." Sarah looked at the Caretaker, who seemed to know more about the topic then Sarah was willing to tell the others. "I hope that I didn't cause you any trouble."
"Not at all. But please be more careful with this...'ability'." Mrs. Fredric turned to the three Agents listening. "I will need someone to keep an eye on Miss Holmes here. Her reflexes have proven very effective before, and could aid in keeping all Warehouse personnel safe from harm."
For a split-second, all eyes were on Claudia. With the spotlight forced on her, she accepted this 'job' of sorts. After all, what's the worst that could happen? Anything that could potentially help the Warehouse is good for everyone, especially someone with Sarah's talents. Claudia knew how a radar worked, and knew a few people with an unique set of vibes. Perhaps this could be a blessing in disguise.
But being the center of attention made Sarah feel incredibly nervous. It was as if Mrs. Fredric reminded her of someone she used to know: a power-hungry madman who would kill anyone who stood in his way. However, there was no malice in her eyes and no evil in her intentions. In fact, she seemed to embody the spirit of the Warehouse: emotionless but protective of all.
Whether Mrs. Fredric knew of this or not didn't make itself clear in her voice or body language. "I will need to see you somewhere private," she stated directly to Claudia. "None of this should be taken lightly."
Once again, the weird feeling took hold of Sarah's subconscious. This time, however, she took her fingers and pinched the back of her neck. The feeling jumped from her neck to her hand before vanishing altogether.
By the time it was over, Mrs. Fredric was gone.
Files and SecretsEdit
While searching through the paperwork left on the table, Sarah came across some very strange files. The people- children, really- whose names were on the files were part of something called "Project Paracelsus." The name may have sent a shiver down Megan's spine, but Sarah didn't even flinch.
At first, she didn't understand anything about this 'Project'. The original notes were either cryptically written or done in some sort of suspicious code. But then Sarah looked closer, and realized that there was something oddly familiar about the kids themselves. And the more she thought about it, the more that the world seemed so cold and distant.
Autumn, she wanted to say, Victor, Horace, Mazie. Their code names stuck out like a sore thumb, having meant nothing to her until now.
She remembered losing them: watching them suffer as strange chemicals were put into their minds and souls, watching as they took their final breaths at such a young age. All four children were hooked up to abnormal machines and made to test all of the scientists'...aura drugs? Anti-aura medications? The exact name didn't ring a bell, but she did slightly remember what great damage they could do.
"I want to see them again." she whispered. "I want to see my friends again. I want to go home."
"What's the matter?" Megan asked, putting a hand on Sarah's shoulder. "Are you missing someone?"
Yes, she wanted to say. Yes, yes, yes. But she didn't, she couldn't. It was if her mind was as blank as an easel. She couldn't remember what they looked like, or who they were. But she knew that they were friends of hers; almost...family.
"Sari? Are you okay?"
Sarah could only respond by showing Megan the files. No words could describe the children's tragic stories, not even hers. But the one thing that captured both Agents' attention were that there were no pictures of the kids, and no way of knowing where they came from. However, a tore-up piece of paper tucked away in one of the files revealed that each kid was 'taken' on a different date and year for 'artifact research'. One of them, a girl known as 'Mazie', was taken June 11th, 1914.
"1914?" Megan looked more closely at the kid's biography, her eyes as wide as dinner plates. "Sari, the Warehouse was completely rebuilt in the August of that year, after a gigantic fire destroyed everything years prior!"
Sarah at once felt a slight tingly feeling in the back of her mind. It felt like a case of deja veu. She took Mazie's file and started to skim through it, only to stop suddenly on the very last page.
It was blank, except for a few notes written in a very professional handwriting. " 'Subject successful.' " Sarah read. " 'Recreation of Caretaker connection established with minor mental issues. Final serum pending until further notice. More information required.' "
Sarah immediately turned very pale. The other three had "failed" and died of mysterious consequences. They had nothing special in them, nothing at all. But why was more information needed? Didn't they already get what they wanted: the perfect...Caretaker.
Suddenly, it all began to make sense. The cryptic handwriting, the strange code; it was all to hide something from the Warehouse. And to top it all off, no other secret government organization in the entire world has a Caretaker with an unusual connection. But why did this all seem so familiar to Sarah? It was like a warning of things to come.
"'Caretaker connection?'" Megan asked, peering over Sarah's shoulder. "Does that mean what I think it means? And why did they want those kids in the first place?"
The answers to these questions and others were somewhere in the very back of Sarah's mind. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them.
"So, you allowed her to see those files, despite my recommendations?" Mr. Kosan inquired. He was staying in a small apartment for the night, a nice place close to the ocean. He stood at the window, looking out at the setting sun.
"I think her seeing them will help her recover some of her memories," Mrs. Frederic replied. She was sitting in a chair, with a cup of tea in her hand. "And this group that we thought was all captured appears to be active once again."
"But how, Mrs. Frederic?" Mr. Kosan asked, his voice displaying no emotion. "I've read all of those files since you came to me last week with your theory. All of our evidence says that every member of the group was captured by the new Agents of Warehouse 13, including several Regents. You yourself even admitted that the danger was past."
"Then you are also aware that Mr. Hernandez was never captured?" she asked, sipping her tea before continuing. "He was suspected to have died after jumping off that ledge into the ocean, although we never found the body. We suspected that a jump from 500 ft. up was fatal enough, especially with the sharp rocks. But he did leave something behind."
She pulled out an antique necklace from her coat pocket. The necklace itself wasn't suspicious-looking, and had no artifact properties. But hanging from its simple golden chain was a djed: the Spine of Osiris and Mr. Hernandez' calling card.
"No one could have survived that fall. Not without . . . ." He paused, as he realized what she was implying. "You think he might have used an artifact to survive the fall?"
"I do. We suspected that we collected all of the artifacts from the laboratory in 1914, and that he ran away with nothing. But it's possible that he had an artifact tucked away on his person. One that would let him survive the fall."
"For Carl Hernandez, it was never just about surviving. There have been several reports from this month alone of eternal youth by unexplainable means. This must mean that the 'final serum' mentioned in the children's files has been used on at least one other person. He must have escaped our clutches with it and one of his test subjects."
"Agreed." Mrs. Fredric replied. "The Project was more then a experiment to Mr. Hernandez, much more then we could ever fathom."
"And you suspect he is involved with what Sarah has gone through?"
"I'm not sure. But I do believe that something happened with her. And Regent John Parker himself told us that the aura surrounding Sarah is unnatural."
"But you do realize that immortality is impossible with a drug-made solution?" Mr. Kosan said. "If it was, we wouldn't have had Caretakers die. They'd only have to put a couple pills into their system every so often in order to achieve eternal life. And yet, they still can. Immortal or not, a bullet to the head would kill them all the same."
"There's more than one way to achieve both eternal youth and immortality, as you should know." Mrs. Frederic sighed. "And yet, I can't help but feel that they achieved the former by attempting to attain the latter."
Mr. Kosan finally turned to face her. A degree of concern could be read on his face. "You don't suspect they might try to take over the Warehouse next, do you?"
"Whether that goal disappeared when we captured everyone else, I don't know. However, it is possible that they are planning to take over in one key position: one that gives them much more control than any other."
"You mean . . . . Caretaker?"
"Yes. I believe that they may have shifted goals. If they have, the next logical step would be to develop a Caretaker with a strong bond that the Warehouse can latch onto, just like how Paracelsus latched on and increased his bond."
"Mrs. Frederic, the Warehouse attempted to bond with Paracelsus because of his past connection. Claudia is going to be the next Caretaker after you are either dead or retire. That is how it works. The Warehouse has decided."
"And if both Claudia and I die . . . Then what?"
Mr. Kosan looked directly at her, his face back to its emotionless state. "Then we find a new Caretaker."
"And that's where they'll strike. Not only do we know where they will strike, but who they will strike with."
She pointed to the child's doll sitting up straight on the loveseat. It still remained the only sign- the only physical proof- that ten year-old Madeline Violet Cordova, alias Mazie, was still alive.
The doll was timeworn and utterly tattered, with some parts of its body completely covered in newer stitches. Its button eyes seemed to have been exhausted of all light and emotion. Even its dark blue dress was in a complete state of stark disrepair. But nonetheless, it was there, and the girl who once held it in her young, innocent hands was sadly not.
"Miss Cordova is still in their possession," Mrs. Fredric warned. "There is psychological proof that her mind has been twisted and bent beyond all hope of repair - just look at her doll, how bad it looks. This doll has bound itself to her, displaying her life force and mental state. Through this drug-induced insanity that the child had been wrongfully forced into, she has become more powerful then every documented Warehouse Caretaker before her. She might not be able to become Caretaker now because of myself and Claudia's presences, but if we died, what would stop her?
"If she does get her hands on the Warehouse, this power could be used to become more...connected...to it then anyone who has ever walked through its doors. On par to when Paracelsus strengthened his connection, except without the need to combine artifacts. That was what Mr. Hernandez wanted when he first started his project, and why, perhaps, he named his greatest work after the alchemist. We cannot allow anyone else to be killed by or become like her."
The word "connected" was mentioned grimly, as if Mazie would be more likely to hurt the Warehouse then protect it from harm. And in all honesty, that would be exactly what would happen. Once the young girl got ahold of the Warehouse's power, she would corrupt it forever - and it would not be difficult for her to find and use several artifacts to grant her the immortality she needed to become its permanent Caretaker. Both of them knew this, but both of them knew not to dwell too much on the possibility of total Warehouse degeneration.
"We have much better ways of choosing new Caretakers now, as well as higher quality security for both Regents and Agents. Likewise, we have successfully dealt with both evil and puppet Caretakers. Nothing like what we have seen or heard of before will happen again."
"And you can assure me of that, 100%?" When Mr. Kosan didn't reply, she continued. "You know as well as I do the dangers of letting this group continue their track. Even if they don't strike now, they will. Maybe in a few days. Maybe in a few years. Perhaps during the time of Warehouse 14. But you know it will happen. It's only a matter of time."
"And how do you propose we continue?" Mr. Kosan asked.
"We use the single resource that they've left us since their disappearance in 1914. Sarah Holmes. Or as they know her; Willow."
"You don't even know if she's trustworthy," Mr. Kosan stated. "Her aura has been severely blackened, her memory wiped. Without a clear aura to read, we can't see her natural state of being. She could very well betray us."
"I tested that memory wipe myself on her second day at the Warehouse," Mrs. Frederic said, as she reached over to pour herself and Mr. Kosan more tea. "Whatever they used, it's not very good. As opposed to our countless methods of permanently wiping memories, their procedure simply covers them up, locking access to those memories. Locks which can be undone, given time. Her memories will start returning. It won't be quick, necessarily. But they will return."
"And were you able to see into these memories?"
"Only one, which I believe to be from within the past year. This event left a scar on her mind, a deep scar which I believe avoided the memory cover due to its emotional stranglehold. She doesn't remember it because she doesn't want to - the memory is so painful that forcing her to recall it before she's ready could easily lead to her death. But I can assure you of this, Mr. Kosan. That memory is what I believe has gotten her to this point. It's why she got her memory wiped at some point after that. And it's why I don't believe she will betray us when she recovers them."
Mr. Kosan sipped his tea. ". . . . You are really putting a strain on the Regents, Mrs. Frederic. We might not be allowed to do anything about it, but we still have a voice. Many of them feel you are losing your touch."
"The Caretaker serves the best interests of the Warehouse. They always have, with two exceptions. Even if the Regents disagree, I must do this. The Caretaker protects the Warehouse. It is this position which keeps the Warehouse from having a breakdown. It's more important now that ever. And even if the Regents think I am losing my touch for the position - which you and I both know isn't true - I believe Claudia would behave the same way, possibly even more recklessly. She doesn't have the experience and understanding yet, and she likely wouldn't even tell you of her plans. As much as you all disagree, all Regents have come to understand at some point is that the Caretaker knows best. And sometimes we have our disagreements. Need I remind you of Flavia Prisca or Steve Balcomb? They both had plenty of issues with the Regents, and yet they were some of the best Caretakers the Warehouse has ever had."
Mr. Kosan contemplated the situation put before him methodically, as if playing a game of chess with imaginary pieces. His face showed a touch of concern once again. "I am fully aware of that, Irene. We are not going to stop you. We will offer you our assistance, however, in tracking down this group."
"Don't worry, Mr. Kosan. I have informed Claudia, and she has agreed to help keep an eye on Sarah. If anything comes up that is vital information, then we will know."
"And what about Agent Wilcoxson? She seems to have developed a bond with Sarah as well."
"I will be speaking with her tomorrow. We need to protect Sarah, and help her uncover her memories. The faster we do this, the faster we can nip this threat in the bud."
"Then I wish you luck, Irene. And please be careful. We don't want to draw any more attention to what we're going to be doing. Furthermore, Sarah has shown to be a very scarred individual. Don't give her any reason to doubt us or our motives."
Meanwhile, a blonde haired girl wearing old fashioned clothing watched them through the combination video camera and tracking device implanted into the doll. She smiled as the Head Regent bid Mrs. Fredric goodnight before retreating to his room. It was all too easy to find him, but at the moment, Mr. Kosan posed no threat to the prime objective.
First order of business: the Caretaker. She prepared a little present for Mrs. Fredric, and shipped it through the mail. The package contained a brand new martini glass, laced with poison. The poison was of a rather unique brand: never seen before, and may never be used again.
Once the Caretaker was gone, and Miss Donavan captured, then the next objective could commence with little to no opposition.
Convention Aisle ChaosEdit
(Or, "Sarah's Convention Aisle Mishap")
"Alright, Sarah," Artie said, standing on the balcony. "You're first assignment is to go through the Convention Aisle and sort out some of the artifacts."
"Sort the artifacts?" Sarah asked, confused. "You mean, organize them?"
"We've got several artifacts which have been collected recently which need to be placed on the shelves." Artie handed her a list. She glanced at the list. Artifacts included were Tuxedo Mask's Rose, Kuruk's Polar Bear Skin, and the Porygon Statue. "You just need to place them on the shelves. They've been sitting in the Ovoid Quarantine, and Aden has been to busy rearranging the artifacts to sort in the new ones. However, he said it's time to begin placing back in some of the artifacts. So, you're to help out. He said it should be easy enough, and he'll be back this evening."
"Well, that should be easy enough to handle," she said confidently. "Is Megan going to help?"
"She's picking up a package from the post office 90 miles away," he said. "It's a shame the post office in Univille closed. It takes forever to pick up our packages now. But that's the way it goes. She'll come join you when she's back."
"It's fine!" she said confidently. "I can handle this! How hard could it be?" She ran down the stairs and ran into the aisles.
"Just remember to wear the neutralizer gloves!" Artie shouted after her. "And if you get in trouble, use the Farnsworth!"
Sarah was placing the artifacts onto the shelf as carefully as she could. Because the aisle was getting reset, there were a lot of empty shelves, and the Ovoid Quarantine had a big area of artifacts from the Convention Aisle. Some of them had tags on them, which read "To be moved to other areas", while others had "To be placed back."
She had been working on it for five hours, and it was going pretty easily so far. She didn't understand why Artie had said to be so careful. I mean, Megan showed her how the artifacts sat on the shelf. They didn't seem arranged in any particular way.
She was carrying a box labeled "Sailor Moon" when she reached the Convention Aisle and noticed something wrong. The entire aisle had a creepy feel to it, and it looked like the entire aisle was covered in purple - but not the neutralizer purple. More like . . . . nighttime purple? She walked into the aisle, not realizing what was going on.
Walking down the aisle holding the box, she didn't notice the giant ink spill on the ground. She slipped, dropping the box and emptying the Rose and the Transformation Pens on the ground. She began experiencing a feeling of paranoia, and as she looked around, she noticed sparks flying further down the aisle. However, the paranoia overtook her, and she wasn't sure what was happening or what to do.
Fire and lightning began to fire off around the aisle as more of the artifacts began to misbehave, responding to the sheer chaos developing in the aisle. Soon, a flute - or maybe an oracina? - began to fire off different elements. Grass and flowers shot out first, followed by a series of metal water bubbles. Next to it, a ball began bouncing up and down, falling off the shelf.
As she began to run faster and faster from the oncoming paranoia, the feeling only got more prominent. It made her feel helpless, and worse, like she was caught in the middle of a very odd reign of terror. The walls and shelves began mutating into weirder versions of themselves as monsters began wrecking havoc. Even the other artifacts took part in this weird festival of sorts, adding to the already strong feeling of terror.
Sarah wanted to escape, but she kept getting the feeling she was being watched. She looked over and saw a Helmet, which she remembered was from Master Chief. She put the Helmet on, encasing herself in armor. This will protect me. She heard a buzzing from her pocket, but she wasn't thinking clearly. It sounded frightfully urgent, but it might have been an alarm. But who knew? She was too frightened at what it might be to see what it was.
"Megan, you need to get down to the Convention Aisle now!" Artie shouted.
"Artie, I literally just walked in the door!" Megan said, placing the box down on the desk nearby. "Just let me use the bathroom and -"
"There's no time for that!" he said. "The Convention Aisle is going haywire!" Megan looked at the screen behind him. There were at least four dozen Artifact Disturbances located up and down the Convention Aisle.
"What's going on?!" Megan asked. She had never seen that many disturbances at once before. "Why are they all acting up?!"
"I don't know! But Sarah isn't answering the Farnsworth, and the static buildup in the aisle is growing more massive! If this keeps up, it might cause trouble in other areas!"
"Why haven't you used the neutralizer vats like you did with me?" she asked, remembering back to when she accidentally activated Lilo and Stitch's Experiment Container, releasing a sandstorm in the aisle. Artie dumped neutralizer over her location, neutralizing all of the artifacts in the area.
"That was just a small area before," Artie said. "This is much more massive! For this to work, we need to neutralize the entire aisle at once! It's going to take time to get enough containers over the aisle to stop this! Garrett and Felix are at the Neutralizer Processing Plant to make help redirect the neutralizer flow to the different vats in the Warehouse and are working to move the different vats over to the Convention Aisle, but it's going to be another twenty minutes or so until we get everything ready. Steve is down there now, so get down there to help him!"
"Got it. I'll go to the bathroom and get down there right away!"
"What the heck?!" Megan shouted, as strong winds whipped around inside the Convention Aisle. "I've never seen it this bad before!" She had on neutralizer headset and gloves, though she was wishing for the hazmat suit. Glancing around, she saw Steve a few feet inside the aisle.
"Steve!" Megan shouted. She had to hold onto the steel shelves to keep from being blown away.
"Megan!" he shouted back. He appeared to be standing in front of a suit of armor. "Sarah's being affected by something in this aisle! Can you try to find it?!"
"Oh, sure!" she shouted back. "Because that's going to be easy! It's not like there's a strong wind or anything!" A huge gust picked her up and held her up, and she pulled herself along the shelves to Steve. "What's going on?"
"She's extremely paranoid!" Steve said, holding onto the armor. "Something about a being with one eye, among other things."
"I think I know what's causing this!" she shouted, thinking through the handful of artifacts she knew off the top of her head in the Convention Aisle. "I'll try to get to it!"
As she pulled herself along, she passed by the Experiment Pod Container, which she recognized was producing the strong winds. As she tried to hold on, it soon switched functions. She dropped to the three feet to the ground and moaned in pain. Soon, she saw found herself being wrapped up in . . . . paper? Ah! Experiment 521! Great! Now I'm getting wrapped up like a mummy!
Being completely bound in toilet paper, she did her best to crawl along the aisle, passing through the puddle of ink on the ground, which made her progress very difficult, though helped to loosen the paper. Soon, it began to tear, allowing her to get free and continue down the aisle. As she stood up, the Pokéball rolled right in front of her. A couple of vines came out and began whipping her hard. "Stop that!" she shouted, kicking the artifact away. "I'm not a fan of that sort of thing!" The artifact rolled away, and the vines retreated. It opened again, releasing a huge blast into the sky, which them came down in beams, all of which seemed targeted at her.
"Why Judgement?! Why couldn't it be Splash?!" she cried out as she ran down the aisle, barely avoiding the beams as they landed behind her.
Finally, she made it to the what she suspected was the cause of the paranoia: Dipper Pines' Hat, located right next to the Night Vale Radio Equipment. Grabbing the Hat, she pulled out the neutralizer bag stuffed in her back pocket and shoved it in. The bag sparked heavily as the artifact neutralized much more than it normally would.
"Steve?" Megan asked into the headset. "How's Sarah?"
"She's doing better," he answered. "Although considering the aisle is still going nuts, we've still got work to do."
"Don't worry," a new voice said over the headset, which Megan recognized as Garrett's. "The neutralizer is all set to go! We're getting ready to dump in now!"
"But I don't want to be soaked in neutralizer again!" Megan sighed as the neutralizer began falling from above. Sparks flew all around her as the entire aisle began getting soaked in neutralizer. Slowly, all of the artifacts began to stop. The aisle now had a purple goo covering it. Artifacts were lying all over the ground. The shelves looked like they had been heavily burned, singed, and . . . . partially eaten?
Megan wiped the neutralizer out of her eyes. She looked around. All was calm.
"Did it work?" asked Garrett.
"Yep," Steve answered. "Although now we're going to need showers."
"How's Sarah?" Megan asked.
"I'm soaked!" she heard through the headset. "I'm thoroughly soaked in neutralizer! I hate this job and I HATE THIS WAREHOUSE!"
Megan smiled. At least I'm not alone in getting soaked this time! "Well, I guess it's time to start the cleanup."
"Well, make sure we separate any conflicting fandoms," Steve said. "We don't want more activations while we're cleaning."
A few hours later, they had only cleaned a quarter of the aisle. Sarah and Megan were taking a quick break at the entrance to the aisle before continuing.
"So," Aden commented, startling both girls as he drifted down to the floor. "You two enjoy the Convention Aisle going bananas?" He asked, giving off a chuckle. "Artifacts in here are arranged by something called friendly fandoms. It means if two certain fandoms get along, I'll put, say, Gravity Falls next to Steven Universe on a shelf. You two moving stuff around as you worked disrupted that."
"Hey, I wasn't here for the day!" Megan said. "Don't look at me! And I DID NOT enjoy the Aisle going nuts!"
"I didn't know what to do!" Sarah complained as she attempted to pick neutralizer out of her hair. "I tried putting everything back where it goes, and they start acting up on me! Why can't things be any easier?"
Megan noticed that the novice Agent seemed to have hit a breaking point. She sighed before putting a hand on Sarah's neutralizer-soaked shirt. "Sari, everything's going to be okay, trust me. We'll get everything fixed up, and then enjoy dinner. How about that?"
Sarah sniffed before glaring dangerously at Aden. "This is all your fault, Doctor Strange!"
"Why, thank you very much!" Aden said with a smile. He stood up and walked into the aisle. "I'll take care of the cleaning. Why don't you guys go get some rest and something to eat?"
"We'll help you clean up the rest of the aisle. It's the least we can do, and it'll go by faster. We'll be back in in a moment."
"Suit yourself," Aden said, walking into the aisle. Once he was far enough down the aisle, Sarah turned to Megan.
"I really hate that guy!" she said. "What a jerk!"
"He's not that big of a jerk," Megan consoled. "At least, not usually. A little bizarre sometimes, though."
Sarah had tears forming in her eyes. "Why did everything start acting up?! I thought I did everything right!"
"You didn't know about the friendly fandom rule. It's not your fault. Some artifacts don't get along with each other. And when one artifact starts to act up, they all start to go bad. It's not your fault. Things like this can happen to new agents. Just be a little more cautious next time, alright Sari?"
Sarah nodded. She still felt like the incident was all her fault. Artie's gonna hate me, she thought. No wonder why I need to be watched.
"Now, let's go," Megan said, standing up. "The faster we finish, the faster we get to eat. And I don't know about you, but I'm starving!"
Sarah smiled and stood up. "So you don't think Artie will be mad and tell me I'm fired?"
"He might be mad, but you wouldn't get fired. If we're all still working here after everything that's happened, a little mess-up would hardly qualify for firing. Now, if you take a nice warm shower, then all of these worries will wash away..."
Sarah eventually realized that Megan was right. After one long, warm shower, she felt much better then she did before. Now that the weird feeling was gone, she could finally relax and enjoy the Warehouse for all the good that it's done for her.
She journeyed back to the Convention Aisle, and started to clean up the mess. Luckily, she knew now where to put things, and became a lot more cautious around those that had previously activated.
Across the aisle was Megan; still smelling faintly of neutralizer, but with a big smile on her face. By the time they got done and were heading off for dinner, Sarah knew that wherever Megan is, everything will be alright.
Dinner was surprisingly different for Sarah. Everyone grabbed a plate, then sat down in their usual seats. There was friendly chatter from various groups on topics from work to matters back home. Laughter filled the air as people joked around with their friends and colleagues. Sarah felt very alone as she looked from one group to another. It was as if she was the new kid at school or was recently adopted into a big, happy family.
She took a deep breath before taking a seat next to Claudia. "So, what do you wanna talk about?"
"Do you feel alone?" Claudia asked, noticing a small amount of sadness in Sarah's eyes.
"You wanna know the truth? I like it here. There's a unique feeling in the air that makes me feel more alive. It's not something I can explain, but I feel a certain connection to this place and everything in it. The other Agents are really cool, too, especially Megan. But every time I see you guys, and see how happy you are, it makes me want my other friends- my other family- back. I shove that feeling deeper into the back of my mind, but it still stays there, locked in. So, yeah...I do feel alone."
Claudia leaned closer. "This isn't my real family either. I was orphaned, and my brother Joshua had to raise me instead for a while. Then, when he got stuck in another dimension, I was left alone. I had to look a long time to find him again, but ultimately found him with the help of Artie. This house- these people- saved me from ever being alone again. They became my second family. And, soon, real soon, you'll feel the same way, too. I promise."
Sarah nodded, sipped from her soda, then smiled softly. "Thanks, Claudia. You're the best."
"Hey, no problem, Sari. Welcome to a world of endless wonder."
To be continued...