Backburner drafts

bad and naughty drafts are put in the backburner to atone for their sins

aka these are old drafts that didn't really go anywhere

(((Working titles: NONE AT THE MOMENT LOL)))

"Mic check, everyone," Arc says, adjusting their headset one last time to make sure it stays put. "Phi-4 Captain, check."

"Phi-4-1, check," Preston says without delay, his voice overlapping from the headset and from his own speaking at Arc's immediate left.

"Phi-4-4, check," Marcy answers next.

"Phi-4-3, check," Jun adds.

"Phi-4-5, check," Sturges says.

"And Phi-4-2, check. That's all of us," Ronnie finishes.

"Audio and video coming through clear, Command?" Arc asks. There's a moment of pause before an answer comes through.

"Had some slight interference from you, Captain, but it's cleared up. Keep an eye on your connection," comes Travis's voice through Arc's earpiece. "We're, we're good to go. Ready when you are."

Arc gives one last once-over of their rifle before being satisfied with it. They can hear the rest of the team doing the same behind them.

"The building isn't anomalous as far as we know. There's still a possibility that the building is anomalous or that the anomaly you're after is a cognitohazard or has some sort of reality-bending effect," Travis says. "So. Don't trust anything."

"Copy that, command," Arc replies, and kicks the door open.

That isn't covert at all, but whoever or whatever secured the entrances to this building had done a very thorough job of making sure nobody got in. The door swings open on its hinges and slams all the way open against the wall, and MTF Phi-4, At A Minute's Notice, slowly files through the doorway with guns drawn.

Whatever's inside already knows that they're coming. It's known for a while, ever since the GOC got to it before the Foundation and tried to demolish the seemingly abandoned police station to take out whatever was inside. That didn't go over so well, and the station had seemingly put itself on lockdown to keep anyone else out. Either the building was anomalous, or whatever was inside was capable of setting off the internal security system and barricading windows. A cursory sweep over the building itself had given an indication that something was inside and that the anomaly was likely the inhabitant(s) of the building.

Still, they didn't know for sure. That's what Phi-4 is here for.

The hallway is lit with fluorescent lighting typical in office buildings. Going in through a back entrance isn't what they'd hoped to do, but hammering in the front seemed an impossible task without taking out the whole front wall so Phi-4 had no choice but to circle around.

"Hey Command," Arc says, taking a glance at the walls. "You noticing this spatial anomaly?"

"I, yeah," Travis replies, his voice trailing off as he watches the video feeds from Phi-4's cameras. "That hallway looks longer than the building does from the outside."

"Compass says we're facing east," Preston adds. "We were facing north when we entered."

"There's an entrance on the west side of the building, with one long hallway that goes all the way through," Travis explains. "From what we're seeing, it's almost as if you've entered through that entrance instead of the south entrance. You should probably look at the map as if you've gone in that way, then. Not that you should trust it."

"Copy that," Arc answers. "C'mon, let's get going."

The hallway does match up with the building's floor plans when using Travis's advice. Doors and rooms appear to be where they should, although they're all locked tight with the shutters closed over the windows. Jun tries one of the knobs, and it falls off in his hand.

"This knob looks brand new," he says as Marcy observes the broken door handle. "It came off like it was rusted."

"Spatial anomaly, visual hallucinations," Arc replies. "Seems par for the course for anomalous shit. Command, we're gonna break into one of the office rooms."

"Watch the glass," is Travis's only response. Not that a little bit of broken glass was going to get through their uniforms anyway.

The glass completely falls out of the window as Marcy bashes it open, the force of it shredding the plastic blinds as well. The blinds hang pathetically on torn strings, before Marcy cuts it down.

The light in the room is on as well, shining bright. It looks like the room is an office of some sort, with a metal desk bare of all items and a rolling chair as its only contents.

"I'm opening the door from the inside," Arc says, peering through the window downward to make sure nothing is hiding behind the door before putting their arm through the broken window and turning the knob on the door.

It breaks off too.

"I'm kicking the door in," Arc amends irritably, and does exactly that.

The desk in the room is devoid of any contents as well. All of the drawers are unlocked and empty.

"Command, you're seeing nothing here too, right?" Preston asks as he opens every drawer on the desk. "No dust, no trash, no papers?"

"Nothing, Phi-4-1," Travis replies. "If there's a visual hallucination going on, it's affecting me as well."

"Great."


They make it to the elevator without incident, other than an odd moment with one of the windows facing outward that appeared to show the outside with inverted colors. That only confirms the hallucination going on with the building though, so Arc considers it helpful.

"Captain, shouldn't this place have stairs?" Sturges asks, eyeing the elevator with trepidation. "This whole building looks brand new, but between those broken knobs and the way that glass just shattered…"

"The elevators could be in a dangerous state. Command, where are the stairs in this building?"

"Uh, you should be looking right at them, Phi-4."

Arc swears.

"Is this the only way up?"

"The building's been abandoned for a long while so it's not within code," Travis explains. "It's never had an elevator. That should be a stairwell in front of you."

"This is not a stairwell in front of us," Arc replies. "It looks like an elevator."

"Don't try to use it."

"Solid advice, command. We're going to try to open it."

Preston taps the call button to go up, and the force of the push cracks the plastic. It seems to send the signal despite the breakage, and the sound of the elevator box lowering in the shaft is audible.

"Get ready for anything to come out," Arc warns the team.

The "ding!" of the elevators arrival is not followed by the doors opening.

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