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… As of the 1st of the coming month, you are transferred to the Anomalous Items Cataloging Branch, based at Site 39. You will be working under Researcher Marcus Haynes to catalog anomalous items judged unfit for continued research or containment, alongside any other research obligations Site Director Jane Firby assigns to you.

We will be in contact with you after your quarterly review, to reevaluate your posting per any recommendations made during said review.

Yours Sincerely,
Miranda Oliviz
Foundation Human Resources


Approaching the innocent looking door, you can't help but feel mounting dread. Everyone has heard stories of the AICB. Of it's head, one Researcher Haynes. You distinctly remember one story, of how he supposedly got recruited into the Foundation after creating a singularity using the V8 motor from an Australian sports car and two dozen emus.

Some of the emus survived, according to the tale.

Shaking your head, you stop in front of the door. Grey, with a rather old card reader built into the lock. Inserting your keycard, you are mildly surprised to find that it doesn't work. Then, you hear a voice behind you, alongside approaching footsteps.

"Every single person they send here does that. Look to your right." Following the voices instructions, you spot a much more modern reader beside the door. Above it, a small sign reading "Anomalous Items". Sheepishly, you quickly swipe your card and are relieved to hear the sound of the door unlocking. Grabbing the handle, you take a deep breath and step inside.

Inside, it's a world of shelves and lockers. Eight massive rows of shelving, as tall as the room, run far into the distance. Squinting, you can make out a figure a few hundred meters away, climbing one of the shelves.

Around where you stand, several desks have been, for lack of a better description, dumped haphazardly in random locations. Two are rammed against walls, with a third positioned so the only way to access it is to either climb over it or pull it away from its corner. A fourth has been raised about a meter into the air using a combination of boxes, books and a rather large crate that you suspect is growling. The rest are positioned in similarly strange ways, making you wonder how these people pass inspections.

And, it's quiet. The usual hustle and bustle of a Site has vanished, replaced only by the soft drone of air filtration systems and the sound of a coin falling onto a desk. Looking around, you see that one of the desks (this one appearing to have been on the receiving end of a flamethrower, judging by the scorch marks) is occupied. The figure, near bald and turned away from you, picks the coin up again from where it fell and flips it into the air once more. Then, as it lands, he glances at it, then marks down the result. Then, as he moves to repeat the motion, you hear the door unlock behind you, and turn to see the new arrival.

"Ah, you the new guy?" The man spoke, with what you believe is a rather strong Australian accent. Brown hair streaked with premature grey frames a rather sleep deprived face, with rectangular glasses sitting at the tip of his nose revealing tired-looking brown eyes. After giving you a once over, he lifts a cup reading "Foundation Poker Tournament 2015" to his mouth and sips. As he does so, you read his ID badge: Researcher Markus Haynes. Your boss. You read him as being born in the 80s before he clicks his fingers and extends his hand.

"Papers, now." Pulling your transfer documents from your pocket, Haynes reads them briefly, before waving you over to a, thankfully normally placed, desk. Grabbing a chair from one of the other desks, Haynes plants it in front of his own, before pointing at it.

"Sit." Doing so, you watch as Haynes downs the rest of his coffee in one, impressive, gulp, before seating himself behind his desk and opening a drawer, mashing the keyboard for his computer as he did so.

"Welcome to Anomalous Items Cataloging. Your new home. Get those ideas of going back to active skip duty out your head now, mate, cause you're stuck here for the foreseeable future." He then holds out a electronic device to you. Taking it, you realize that it's a modified bar code scanner, with a printer built into it.

"That's your tagger. It's your best friend here. Use it to tag anything you catalog, then log it into the system. Repeat until you're transferred or dead, whichever happens first." Raising a eyebrow, you ask about that statement. Haynes snorts in amusement, before looking over at the researcher flipping the coin.

"Hey Kev! New meat thinks they're gonna get outta here!" The coin flipper catches the coin and spins his chair to face you, revealing a rather impressive mustache in the process.

"Good joke, boss. Maybe you'll tell a funny one next time!" With that, he spins back around and flips the coin once more. Fixing his gaze back on you, Haynes smirks.

"Like I said, until you're transferred or dead. Though, you're lucky. From what I could gather past all the redacted shit, you're only here cause they couldn't justify firing you, and didn't want to D-ify a smart one like yourself." Sniffing, Haynes then looks around the department.

"Look, it's not that bad. You've worked on skips before, so you're not completely green. Here, the stuff we're poking with sticks won't kill you. Most of the time." Sighing, Haynes pulls out a cloth from his pocket and removes his glasses, before cleaning the lens. "Poor Alex. Who knew that doorstop was explosive…" Putting his glasses on once more, Hayne fixes his gaze on you again, and smiles.

"Right. Let's get to work."


You learn very quickly how things work in AICB, under the watch gaze of Haynes: Unpack item, read the field report or lab notes, give it a quick shake down, give it a tag and give it a home, repeat until end of world. The entire time, Haynes is either sipping coffee or making coffee, making you question whether he actually does anything.

And then he cataloged a particularly silly item (a seat cushion that, when sat upon, screamed) in under 30 seconds, without putting his coffee down. And then you realized that he was not lazy.

He was efficient. And so was the AICB.

Every person had a job. The rest of the branch staff arrived at around 9, all with various amounts of caffeinated liquids or food in their hands. They all greeted Haynes, then got to work.

Jen, the Irish redhead who you're pretty sure you've seen naked pictures of, logged onto her workstation and proceeded to spend the entire day thus far on the phone, talking with various Site Directors and field team leaders about incoming items. The entire time, she spun a pen around her fingers in such a way that shouldn't be possible under normal physics.

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