Tormenta Proveniente
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“The rain set early in tonight,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its best to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up and all the cottage warm;”
― Robert Browning

Base Six was having a typical Insurgency day. It was a tedious one for security. Klaxons were blaring from one of the hallways. A minor breach in one of the test chambers let loose a furry creature that made people sleepy. Personnel were busy trying to subdue the creature with tranquilizers.

Dr. Martin walked by some guards rushing to contain the Costumed Critter, who was yelling Spanish insults at staff and thrashing about the hallway. He made his way to his office, a small room by the Base medical facility. He'd been accustomed to the daily breaches at Base Six, summing it up to personnel quality and stupidity. He slipped his keycard to the slot on the door and started writing a memo to Dr. Creed about decommissioning the reptilian bastard.

His room only had a new computer, a TV, and a small desk where he worked. Base Six itself was small compared to the others, especially Base Four, where he originally worked before being shipped off. He was a fairly new recruit, being a Level 3 researcher at the Foundation only a few months ago. He was discovered by Dr. Kaller when he used a cognitohazard he made himself to kill some members of the Serpent's Hand the other week. He could still remember their bodies shaking and malfunctioning as they read what he wrote. The smoke and the fizzing and the sounds, they were etched to his mind.

*ding*

His flashback was interrupted by an email notification.

"Damn it," he sighed, as he read a reply from Creed. "Denied".

He collected himself, stood up, and made his way into the elevator. Maybe some fresh air could brighten his mood. There was a Starbucks in front of Base Six. "Coffee?" he said to himself "That sounds good."

He was greeted by sunlight and traffic. It was a hectic afternoon in New York City. The sky was mostly sunny, but a few clouds were gathering east, as if waiting and preparing to blanket the sun in a gray cloud. He faced a street that led to an intersection. People were walking by, oblivious to the rampage the creature was causing inside. A girl even smiled at him as he crossed the street. He smiled back. He made his way to the coffee shop , where he could see Dr. Alan inside, busy with his laptop. Dr. Alan was the director of Base Six, a thin, tall man in his late 40's, his already white hair in a ponytail, with a gray beard that ended abruptly to his side. He knew Dr. Alan had a troubled past. He read every detail on his Level 3 personnel file. That was enough for him to have a mental picture of what the director has gone through.

The poor man was there when the Foundation kidnapped his wife and daughter for being reality benders. He was having a nice family dinner. His wife prepared his favorite salad and turkey dish, while his daughter amused herself making an ant change color. There was a knock on the door, and everything went dark. And the next thing he saw was his family being stowed in a van, kicking and yelling. He could remember hearing the guns that went off as the van careened off a bridge into the ocean.

That was when he discovered the Insurgency. They came to him one night. He happily took their offer to help destroy the Foundation. Things changed with him. Now, Dr. Alan was the director, a heartless man with a clouded mind, struggling to remember what happened.

Dr. Martin took the seat in front of Alan, two Venti coffees in his hands, and tried having a conversation with him.

"What's going on, Doc?"

"The usual case of jack-shit-uppery, son. The Serpent's Hand just took off with one of our items. One of the more useful ones," came his reply. It was considered normal for Dr. Alan to curse, considering Dr. Alan was an alcoholic. There was a bottle of pilsen in his laptop's bag.

"Which one?" The doctor casually said, sipping his coffee.

Dr. Alan looked at Martin straight in the eye. He was known for leering like this at bad times.

"Son, do you have the appropriate clearance? Last I heard, you were Epsilon-level."

"I'm Delta-level, now, Alan."

"Well, suit yourself," the director replied. He opened a few programs on his computer, making sure Martin didn't see what he was typing.

He showed Dr. Martin a heavily censored Alpha-clearance file:


File: Staff of Hermes

[DATA CENSORED]

Appendix B: During 01-30-14, members of GoI-6, "the Serpent's Hand" appeared in the item's containment chamber via an anomalous portal. They have stolen the item. Protocol-001-KRET122 has been activated. The retrieval of the item is currently at Beta/High Priority. Information that may help in its retrieval is welcome. As of now, the Item's status has been changed to Theoretical-High.


It took Martin a few minutes to process what he read.

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Dr. Alan looked at the rookie researcher. He knew that the doctor was interested in the staff. "The Hand stole the Staff of Hermes", the director summarized. The color from Dr. Martin's face faded. He let go of his latte and reached out to get his phone with a shivering hand. He took off his glasses and put them on the marble table. He tried to keep calm, then stammered his reply.

"T-THE STAFF OF HERMES!?" He whispered loudly, making sure no one in the cafe heard. He already notified his assistant to prepare the chopper.

"You heard me, you little prick. Seems those snakeheads teleported smack-dab into Base Four and took off into a portal with the item. We're lucky that a tracking device was put on the staff or else we won't be making rat-sized emeralds any more."

Dr. Martin allowed himself a moment of silence before asking again. "So, where's the staff now?"

"The device says that the Staff of Hermes is near the Sierra Nevadas. There seems to be an old building there. Reports suggest the Hand uses that building as an access point to their messed-up library."

Dr. Alan glanced at Dr. Martin. He could tell where this was going. He was in a situation like this before. "You're not actually planning to go there and get the staff, are you, rookie?" He sternly asked. "The Serpent's Hand is a dangerous organization. You'll be lucky if you only meet a few tangentials there. They're an army of freaks." He added.

Dr. Martin knew what the director was talking about. The Hand was responsible for many a containment breach during his time at the Foundation. He's seen people who can corrode metal at will, instantly put people in a coma and even wipe an entire Task Force out of existence. He watched as Dr. Alan opened a few more programs, typing in Alpha clearance passcodes that could earn him probation time if he paid attention. The darkened silhouettes of four individuals were visible. One of them spoke to Martin. "Doctor Martin, do you have any idea how serious this is?"

"He's right, Caduceus. This is a serious problem. We've already sent a task force on the way. But you could help. There's an item 9 stories below Base Six. A Vertigo class. We call it the Tangent Revolver. Use that during your mission. It transfers the anomalous properties of anything it shot to the next person or thing that gets shot with it. We took it from a lab the other week." The director said. The Alpha commander who just spoke to the doctor was now talking to the other silhouetted people. "Secret meetings at Starbucks. Smart move, CI." the doctor thought.

"Did they find it, or make it?" Martin asked, trying to diffuse the tension.

"Apparently, there's this organization. They call themselves CSAD. Don't ask me what it means since I don't know. All I've ever known about them is they're hostile and cahoots with the UN and the GOC. They've been on the rise lately. Reports from our spies at the Foundation suggest they've expanded into their territory. They've been diverting a lot of government funding from them. There's also a—"

"Excuse me, Dr. Martin? You have a message."

He was interrupted by the doctor's assistant - a lovely brunette woman in her early 20s, who notified him about Alpha Command's reply. They approved his involvement app. He was now part of the retrieval team. She took a seat next to Martin, one leg resting on the other, busying herself with some files. "We need to get going. Kaller thinks the Hand may be preparing to transfer the object to their Library." she reported to her doctor.

"Just a sec, Brooke" the doctor said.

"Well, aren't you a fine young lady." the director commented about his assistant, who smiled briefly before going back to her filing. "Secretaries today. Well then, enough about your her. If I'm correct, you've just been cleared by Alpha staff to join the retrieval operation". He handed the doctor a gray keycard. "Bring that with you. That's so guards won't shoot you when you try and get the revolver."

Alan waited for a reply from Alpha Command. They spent a few minutes talking.

A beep from Dr. Alan's laptop. One by one, the silhouettes of the Alpha commanders signal a green "Approve" sign.

"Well, look at that." the Director muttered to himself "Dr. Martin. You're now part of Retrieval Ops. Your objectives, as per your mission statement, are as follows," The director said, an aura of command collecting around him.

The doctor was already excited. Spending 12 hours a day, four days a week at Base Six didn't exactly qualify as a workout.

"Well then," the Director said, fixing his tie as he drew his tablet nearer so he could see the small text, "You are to assist in the retrieval of Item #001 as Black Ops- Retrieval/Elimination of Tangentials, your designated codename is Wingman. You are to secretly escort Task Force Sigma-Tomahawk/001 to the location of interest, terminate objects or organisms that may impede or jeopardize their operations, and," he paused to moisten his lips and take a breath, "if safe and possible, retrieve other anomalous items for Insurgency use. Failure to properly complete your objectives will result in probation. Do you affirmatively respond to your orders?" The Director said.

"Affirmative, sir." Martin said. The Director seemed amused. "Chopper's ready, sir." Brooke reminded. "Well, kid. Looks like you''re off. Best of luck with finding the staff." the Director gestured at the door, prompting the doctor to leave.

"Bye, Alan." He said before opening the door, back on the same hectic street he was just a few hours before. The lady who smiled at him was still there, dead pale, lying on the pavement, bloodied with gunshot wounds. The familiar rosy blush on her cheeks betrayed any hint of fading. She was being examined by some people from an ambulance. He wanted to mourn and sympathize, but he knew that would make things worse. Martin sighed as he walked by her, and made his way back to Base Six. "I'll make them pay, Natalie, I promise.", Martin whispered to the dead girl, as he opened the doors to Base Six.

The clouds were starting to creep up on the sun, forming a large cumulonimbus cloud on the horizon, and it was becoming evening. The Director checked up on his base for a while, then looked up at the sky.

"There's a storm brewing." He said, as he took a sip of the coffee Martin gave him.
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