Interlude D. Recruitment

Thanks to Miah for betareading. Cody, July, and Library belong to JulyFlame; Samuel and Kat belong to Makari.

Library went through the portal she had just opened into the response center she shared with July, being very careful to not lose her balance or stumble as she stepped through. The portal closed behind her, sending her skirt swishing.

“Here we are,” she said, more for the Arceus and Rayquaza’s benefit, and less so for herself and Samuel, who she was currently holding.

Samuel looked up and around with a bit of interest. To his credit, he did not comment on the urple bedsheet.

The Rayquaza, on the other hand, investigated it with morbid fascination. The other human-shaped Pokemon in the room winced upon seeing it and did his best to ignore looking at it, though he could not help but stare.

“I suggest learning to ignore those colors,” Library mentioned. “If you don’t, you’ll end up with a constant headache once you start going on missions.” She looked down at Samuel. “Shall I lead them to the Marquis’ office so they could be processed, and then on to DoSAT? Or would you prefer it the other way around?”

“How does it even exist?” the Rayquaza wanted to know, ignoring the suggestion to ignore things.

“I’m not sure I wish to know,” the Arceus murmured.

“Please,” said Samuel, an expression of distaste on his small blue face.

Library nodded in understanding, and walked over to the bedsheet, pushing it aside, revealing the corridor. The walls and floors in the stretch of corridor right outside the response center had a multitude of chalk drawings stretching up and down it. “Those colors are what happens when writers attempt to combine two contrary colors or ones that are poorly described into a mix. Follow me, please. And try to not concentrate too much on where we’re going.”

“But we don’t know where we’re going,” the Arceus replied.

“That will make this go much faster, then,” Library said. With a twirl to her skirt she turned left, seemingly at random, and began walking at a fast clip.

“Counterintuitive,” the Rayquaza remarked. “Writers again?”

Samuel, still in Library’s arms, had shut his eyes firmly and was muttering quietly, distracting at the very least himself.

“As I understand it,” Library began, “due to the multidimensional nature of Headquarters, it results in the building being unnavigable if you are consciously focusing on the route you are taking to your destination. Not every corridor leads the same way as it might have before, so paying attention will only result in you becoming hopelessly lost. There’s a saying that if you have to get to someplace else within Headquarters, you should carry a distraction, be it a book, something that plays music, or another agent, but normally the last is inconvenient.” She smiled faintly.

“Not to mention most Agents will be displeased with being carried even if it is convenient,” Samuel added, and went right back to muttering.

“Makes sense, though. To an extent.” The Rayquaza nodded, evidently filing the information for later use. He looked over at the Arceus briefly, ostensibly making sure the other Pokemon was still following along.

The Arceus was several meters behind, staring with poorly disguised amazement at a large hole in the wall of the corridor that led into nothing.

The Rayquaza backtracked to fetch his compatriot, though it was clearly an effort on his part not to stop and investigate this phenomenon too.

Library soon realised there were no longer any footsteps in cadence with her own, and turned around. “You should be careful,” she said, and there was an awkward pause as she realised neither the Rayquaza or Arceus had proper names. “Headquarters isn’t very safe.”

She waited until the two returned before she continued to walk on. “It has just occurred to me that you both need names.”

“I suppose,” the Rayquaza said dubiously. “The ones we have are unacceptable?”

“They are your species name, and as I understand you both are the only ones, but it can lead to... complications here,” she replied, slowly. She thought on July’s occasionally intense interest in the game series, as well as how fellow agents could be when presented with someone or something that was heavily associated with or part of their fandom interests. “Some agents can be quite obsessive, when they discover something that is within their range of interests, and from what I understand of the games—” which wasn’t very much at all, really – “—it might lead to someone attempting to catch you in one of those balls.”

“They can try.” The Rayquaza folded his arms over his chest. He was still lacking a shirt.

Samuel thunked his head against Library’s arm, shifting from muttering to a quietly disapproved grumble. He was not quite so optimistic.

The Arceus, for his part, bit his lip. “I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone else...”

“It wouldn’t change who or what you are,” Library pointed out.

“Do you happen to have suggestions?” the Rayquaza challenged.

Library walked for a minute or so in thought, before she spoke up again. “Asher and Reuel,” she said, firmly.

Samuel twisted to look up at Library. “Do you have a small database of meaningful names in your head?”

“Not quite,” she admitted. “They’re both middle names of authors I’ve enjoyed since I arrived here, as well as names from Genesis. Arthur Miller and John Ronald Reuel Tolkien.”

“Well, they would suit.” Samuel wriggled a bit more, but decided the effort required to lay eyes on the Arceus and the Rayquaza wasn’t worth it at the moment. “It’s up to those two, though.”

Library very carefully attempted to move her arms in such a way to allow Samuel to see the two recruits without making it too obvious she was purposefully doing such.

“Asher sounds nice as a name,” the Arceus said, after a bit.

“I could learn to answer to the other,” added the Rayquaza.

“And if the Marquis doesn’t have to deal with nameless Agents, everyone wins,” Samuel put in.

Library nodded in agreement. “It prevents him from choosing it, for one.” She came to a stop, because they had finally reached the Department of Sufficiently Advanced Technology. “Here we are.”

Samuel breathed a sigh of relief, unsubtly.

“Does the ‘Marquis’ choose unsuitable names?” Reuel inquired.

“He is not known for being kind. I suggest waiting out here. We hopefully won’t take too long.” Library opened the door, and walked in.

They followed her in anyways.

Unfortunately, Cordelia, usually known as Cody, was right inside. Cody was roughly the same height as Library, with short brown hair that had a longer side lock and blue (usually slightly unfocused) eyes. Her tennis shoes comprised of more tape than shoe, and her camo cargo pants had wrenches (and a sheathed knife) sticking out of the pockets. All of this was paired with an easy going expression and a mischievous look in her eyes.

“Oh dear,” Library said, quietly.

“Hey, Cal! Whatcha got there? He looks cute!” Cody grinned, having likely not heard Library’s utterance.

“I,” said Samuel, affronted, “am Agent Samuel, DMS Freelance. I am not by habit either cute, or a Mudkip.”

Cody pushed her palms out. “Hey, calm down there, sorry, sorry. Disguise generator accident happen?” The long lock of hair fell over her eyes as she leaned down to be close to eye level with Samuel, and she blew it out of the way, her eyes crossing temporarily.

“Not quite. This is semi-voluntary. My real form is inconvenient. I am usually human-shaped, but the device that allowed me that was broken in-mission. Thus, I am here.” Samuel watched Cody carefully.

“Hmmm. D’you have it on ya?”

“I was not thinking straight. My partner still has it, and she could be anywhere by now.”

Cody cracked her knuckles and grinned wider. “I think I can manage this without Dann,” she said, decisively. She straightened up, and motioned for Library to follow her, pulling out a PADD from one of her pockets.

Library followed cautiously, as Cody led them through deeper into the department, up to a large and pitted metal workbench. It was covered with gutted CADs and wiring, a soldering kit near a half repaired CAD. The back of the workbench had a towering wall of Coke cans, precariously perched. There was a covered plastic bucket next to it, with the words ‘Cody’s Thermite Dont Touch!!!’ scrawled on the lid in black marker. An apostrophe had been added to the ‘Dont’ in red, fixing the error.

“Thermite?” Reuel bent over to peer at the bucket, though he obeyed the black marker.

Library chose to not answer.

“Yes, mine, don’t touch,” Cody said automatically, peering at the PADD’s display. Every now and then she prodded at it, pecking her way to whatever it was she was trying to find.

After a few minutes, she crowed in delight. “Found it! Gimme twenty minutes, and I’ll get it done!” Cody went to work, Asher and Reuel watching her in quiet interest.

It took fifty-four minutes, the last five of which the tech had spent soldering the new bracelet to be a thicker and hardier piece of equipment. Finally, however, it was ready, and she offered it to Samuel.

It was rather too large for the Mudkip he currently was. He considered his options. “It may be best to wait until we get to Medical.”

“Yeah?” Cody asked.

“Unless you want a fifteen-foot plus dragon-type in your workspace?”

“I like dragons,” Cody said. She grinned.

“...Is there even room here?” Samuel looked around at everything, and cast a pointed glance at the bucket of thermite.

Cody did not notice the pointed glance, instead looking around. “Probably. There should be enough space in here.”

“I’m not the one with the DORKS,” he said at last. “Though I may fall over, depending.”

Library pulled the DORKS out of her jacket pocket. It currently appeared to be a teapot. “I can disable it, if you like.”

“I would like to get back to human shape, but I am not certain as to the extent or existence of my injuries and I should probably not be in your arms in any case, if I did.” He surveyed the space again, still dubious.

Library nodded, and put it back. “Those are excellent points. To Medical, then?”

“Please.” He looked back to Cody, and hesitated. “...Thank you.” It didn’t sound like what he’d originally intended.

“No prob.” Cody leaned against the workbench, and sent one of the towers of Coke cans to the floor. “Well, seeya around! Try and visit when you’re back to normal. Or send that guy,” she said, nodding towards Reuel with a click of her tongue.

Reuel affected a supremely indifferent expression. Asher blinked.

Library waved Cody goodbye, and started walking.

“I’m sure I’ll find my way back eventually,” said Samuel, and cast Reuel a mildly amused glance. “We should get him a shirt, shouldn’t we.”

Library’s response was a vehement “Yes.” as she considered the possibility of running into an affection-starved female agent, Luxury, or one of the occasional fangirls that managed to find their way into Headquarters. “Do you have anything in your response center that would fit him?” she asked, once they left DoSAT.

“Possibly,” Samuel allowed. Reuel was at least an inch taller, and muscular where Samuel was lanky in human form. “I don’t keep much.”

“Mm. Perhaps it should wait,” Library reconsidered. ”You’ve waited long enough, after all.”

“Kind of you.” Samuel shifted a bit, and made a tiny discomfited hiss. “Ah. Bad plan. I’ll just... remain still.”

Asher looked very guilty for a moment, though Reuel’s own expression made him soon stop.

Library nodded, and carefully adjusted her hold. “If you don’t mind my asking, Samuel, how did you end up joining the PPC?”

“Accident. I did say I got lost, didn’t I? And once I got here, I could be un-lost. So I stayed to help.”

“Yes, you had. Has Kat been your only partner, or...?”

“Only official partner, yes.”

“Official partner?” Asher blinked at Samuel in curiosity.

Samuel inhaled, started to explain, and stopped himself. “What about that is confusing you? I don’t want to explain the wrong thing.”

“Partners, and why you have only had one official one,” Asher said.

“Agents are assigned in teams, usually two-person, for multiple reasons,” Samuel began. “Often, one can keep the other from doing something that would result poorly. Further, it allows for teamwork, which is commonly necessary to achieve a goal. Also, when it comes to badfic, shared pain is lessened pain. As to myself, I worked with a few people temporarily, but was after that on my own for a mission or two until the first reason I listed was demonstrable. The result was Katrina.”

“Oh,” Asher went. “Is she nice?”

Samuel had to think about this question for several seconds. “Mostly,” he decided finally.

Library smiled slightly. “She didn’t seem that bad.”

“You haven’t had oratorios at two am,” he said. “As things go, though, she is a good partner.”

“No, I have not, though now that you mention it I hope that July is smart enough to realize that will never be appropriate or a wise idea.”

“This would require the idea to occur to her in the first place.” Samuel noticed something, and tapped at Library’s arm. “We found it. Do you want to just drop me off and go sort things out with the Marquis?”

“Oh, so we have.” Library stopped. “If you would like me to, yes.”

“It will be more efficient. Not to mention, higher chances of locating a shirt.”

Library nodded, and carefully set Samuel down and stepped away. She pulled out the DORKS, and with a bit of quick manipulation removed the disguise for a final time.

The small bedraggled Mudkip holding a bracelet was replaced seamlessly with a large and somewhat battered Giratina, still holding a bracelet. He remained that way for barely a second, before blurring and shifting downwards, to his accustomed human form. The bracelet was secure around his left wrist. He was disheveled and bruised, but fortunately clothed, and much happier than he had been previous.

Library smiled. “I should take them to the Marquis, now. Please take care, Samuel.”

“I shall.” He waved to her, and to the two recruits. “And you.” With that, he very carefully did not limp off into the tender embrace of the Medical department.

Library began walking again. “Let’s see if we can get you both processed in quickly, shall we? Try to not be too surprised by the Marquis. I should mention, by the way, that our supervisors are sentient, psychic plants. They wear suits for some odd reason, so I suggest to try and avoid staring.”