Special Containment Procedures


richard3_icon.gif voss_icon.gif

Scene Title Special Containment Procedures
Synopsis It wasn't a coal fire.
Date September 7, 2019

«Based on the evidence at hand, we’ve ruled out terrorist activity.»

Streetlights outside of Richard Ray’s New York Safe Zone office are dimmed by the heightened opacity of his office windows, currently displaying am internet news broadcast from Kansas City. The lights in his office are turned down, they rarely found themselves at full lumens these days, not since fate conspired to bring back the night into his life. Seated at his desk, he watches the talking head continue to discuss the matters of the day while the chyron at the bottom of the screen scrolls past bite-sized pieces of information.

«Secretary Vincent Lazzaro of the Department of Homeland Security announced in a briefing to media that the explosion is believed to be an isolated incident that authorities have not yet confirmed was connected to SLC-Expressive abilities.»

It reminds him of the past, of news reports just following Nathan Petrelli’s unmasking and the battle in Midtown. It reminds him of even further back, of the times when the world didn’t even have Evolved in their vernacular, let alone SLC-Expressive. When the destruction of Midtown Manhattan was a mystery initially attributed to groups like Al-Qaeda which seems positively quaint notions when considered in the present tense.

«SESA Spokesperson Alice Shaw later addressed the press indicating that the SESA was actively investigating all possible leads regarding the explosion and reiterated Secretary Lazzaro’s statement that there was no public danger at this time.»

A quote from the late author Terry Prachett comes to Richard’s mind, listening to the news broadcast. A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on. Everyone on the feed was doing just that. Sprinting.

The buzz of Richard’s intercom system interrupts the race. It’s Sera. “Mr. Ray, Deputy-Director Voss is here to see you.

But every race has to end.

Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office

NYC Safe Zone

September 7

6:38 pm

In the end, there are always people like Richard, digging up bodies outside of Coyote Sands and scraping secrets from pennies. The lie might win at the sprint, but just like the tortoise, the truth will get there eventually.

The tips of his fingers drum loosely over the surface of the table as he considers the news feed, calculations and possibilities running behind his eyes in a less-efficient form of the string maps just one room over.

The buzz of the intercom jolts him from his thoughts, head turning towards it and a single eyebrow raising upwards upon his face. A moment’s pause considers the unexpected arrival, before he reaches out to tap the intercom.

“Send him up, of course, Sera.”

His tie is adjusted, suit jacket pulled a bit more into place as he rises to his feet. “Ambient light up to forty percent,” he says, the room brightening… slightly more.

«In other news, all eyes are on the impending launch of the capsule that will deliver the crew of the starship Itinerant Dawn into low earth orbit in November. Latimer Incorporated’s CEO Geneva Isfeld had this to say about the upcoming launch: “This is a watershed moment for human history. We are about to see what happens when the brightest minds in the world pair with the most talented SLC-Expressive humans to push the boundaries of science and exploration.”»

As the feed continues to broadcast, Richard sits in anticipation of Voss’ arrival. On the screen, Geneva Isfeld is shown standing in front of an enormous launch site, according to the tag at the bottom of the screen located in Kenya. The sky is filled with wispy clouds and a scattering of birds. The excitement in her eyes and voice is palpable. This is someone who believes in the future.

When the door to Richard’s office opens, the feed automatically goes on mute. Deputy-Director Voss cuts a typical dark silhouette in the doorway, the light from the window-displayed feed reflecting in the square lenses of his glasses. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything,” he says with a casual look to the feed, brows furrowed, before he looks back at Richard, “but I was hoping you might have a few hours cleared.” Straight and to the point, Voss hasn’t changed at all.

“You’ve caught me on a slow day,” Richard replies, pushing himself up to his feet and offering a hand over the desk along with the slightest curve of a smile, “And I’m always happy to give you some of my time, Deputy Director.”

Noticing where the man’s attention has gone, he glances over to the silenced feed. “Latimer. They’re getting ready for their big launch, assuming everything goes well. Humanity finally going out into the stars— could change everything. Or nothing. What’re your thoughts?”

Voss shrugs, looking like he has the same opinion on the scientific endeavor as he does the interior decorating of Richard’s dimly-lit office. “I’m party to enough uncharted territories right now,” is how he chooses to both answer and not answer. But Voss hasn’t come to sit and chat, in spite of asking Richard if he has any time to spare.

“I have a car waiting outside,” Voss says as he steps to the side, motioning to the door. “There’s some paperwork you’ll need to sign along the way.”


“Well, that’s what we excel in here at Raytech— charting uncharted territories,” Richard observes in good humor, “Space, other dimensions, evolved technologies, that sort of thing…” He trails off then at the offer of a car, glancing to the door.

“It’s one of those meetings, then. Got it.”

Reaching over, he taps the intercom, “Sera, clear my schedule for the rest of the day. Something just came up. Make sure to feed Richelieu.”

A touch on the desk kills the feed upon the window, and he swipes his shades from the desk as he steps around it, settling them neatly upon his face.

“After you, Deputy Director.”

A Short Time Later

Interstate 95

Somewhere in New Jersey

7:13 pm

A leather folio of hard copy non-disclosure agreements sit signed on the bench seat of the Yamagato Lapis beside Richard. Voss sits opposite of Richard in a rear-facing seat, making the back of the SUV more like a limousine. The driver in the front is partitioned away from them by a likely bulletproof and tinted privacy screen. Voss hasn’t said much since they’d left, not until the last page was signed.

Outside, the ruined landscape of urban New Jersey rolls past. They’d crossed the checkpoint out of the Safe Zone fifteen minutes ago and circled around the north side of the island of Manhattan. Now the dark, walled isle is visible out the driver’s side windows across the river when it’s visible between the ruined factories and plants. They’re headed south.

“I know you’ve seen the news,” Voss says, reclining into his seat and finally putting his phone away. “The explosion.” There’s a tightness in his voice at that, watching Richard’s reactions carefully.

After signing all the usual agreements - he’s got plenty of practice by now - Richard leaned back and made himself comfortable, hands folded over his chest and head turned to watch the landscape moving past. Noting landmarks and signs on habit, in case he needs to walk back for some reason.

It’s happened before.

When finally the other man speaks, dark-shaded eyes return to him. “Of course,” he replies casually, “Some poor Evolved got their hands on some Amp and it went poorly. Swamp gas and reflections from Venus make the area dangerous to go into, though, in the wake.”

Dryly, “Seems open and shut to me.”

“We’ve got an open hole into god knows where hovering in the fucking sky,” Voss says flatly, as if reciting details about the morning’s weather. “Your mother’s project, Mateo Ruiz’s ability, just… free-floating. Stable.” Voss’ brows furrow together. “We were thinking of telling the public it’s a new recycling system, but we thought that might not track well.” There’s cynicism in Voss’ tone, not just sarcasm.

“It’s more than this, though. SESA’s been investigating some… unusual fallout from what happened earlier this year with the Looking Glass.” Voss slowly turns to look out the tinted windows as they drive. “West of New Mexico we’ve been detecting massive electromagnetic anomalies with weather satellites. Getting people out there has been the issue, most of them seem located around the Death Valley area. But this…”

Voss shakes his head and looks back to Richard. “We don’t know what we’re dealing with, how it got there, or what it’s going to do. Secretary Zimmerman thinks you’re familiar enough with the end of the goddamn world to give us some insights.”

The slight smile upon Richard’s face fades at the news, his head turning to look towards the window, as if he could see that hole there.

”They used it for that in the virus timeline, you know,” he murmurs almost absently, “Liz told me about it, it was their garbage dump since they couldn’t leave their underground bunker safely and didn’t want it building up… shit. Shit, this isn’t good at all.”

Back to Voss, he unfolds his arms and leans forward, one hand resting on his knee, “What data do we have on what happened? What was at the location before, do we have witnesses, video at all…? Has anything emerged from it?”

“It was a zoo,” Voss says as if that’s somehow a joke the universe played on everyone. “But it hasn’t been that since the mid 80’s. It’s been decaying for decades. During the war an airport to the west was a bombing target and apparently ignited some underground coal deposits, set the entire area on fire. The forest never recovered, half the place smells like burning tar. We thought a pocket of natural gas might’ve blown, but…” Spreading his hands, Voss seems at a loss.

“There’s nothing in the area. It’s a few miles away from the nearest inhabited settlement, mostly just open wilderness and ruins. We didn’t have any eyes on the site because it’s… insignificant.” Brows furrowed, Voss looks down to the floor of the car, then back up to Richard. “No witnesses, at least none that weren’t miles away when the blast happened. Whatever blew up flattened the forest for a mile in every direction. There’s not much to pick through. We found some human remains, but they’re unidentifiable. We contracted Baumann to see if she could help, but they’re… blank.”

Voss seems to struggle with that last bit. “They just create white noise. She says she experienced the same thing in her native timeline after Mateo opened one of his doorways onto the Deveaux Building. Like it scrambled whatever her ability picks up on.”

“It almost sounds like a Tunguska event,” Richard considers, rubbing at his jaw thoughtfully, “Any space debris or meteorites tracked falling…? No, if there was you would’ve mentioned it— which leads to some questions about Tunguska actually, but they aren’t important right now. Probably. Alright. It’s possible that an energy release upon the portal’s opening ignited the natural gas, causing the explosion…”

His gaze flicks over the edge of his shades to Voss, “Has anything emerged from it? What does it look like?”

“I don’t even have the fucking words,” is Voss’ answer on how to describe it. “Far as we know nothing’s gone in or come out. We’ve been lucky because of the cloud cover, ‘cause the sky over it is lit up like the Fourth of fucking July, and you know exactly what I’m talking about.” The aurora. “Everything points to Ruiz, but we’ve discreetly checked in on him and have ruled him out. At least— the him we know about. We’re still not entirely clear on how he or his wife survived what happened in New Mexico.”

But that’s a problem for another day.

“The rest, you’re going to have to ask the tech’s on site. We’ve got the area quarantined as a public health hazard which… isn’t a lie. The air there’s barely breathable,” Voss admits with a roll of his head and one shoulder. “If word about something like this got out, I can’t even fucking imagine what would happen.”

“Ruiz couldn’t sustain a portal for this long,” claims Richard with a shake of his head, “It would’ve destabilized a long time ago, even assuming he had a steady current of electricity to feed into it.”

A lean back in the car seat, and he closes his eyes, “Alright. Give me the rest of the bad news— what did you say you’re getting from Death Valley?”

“Anomalous readings, is how the techs have described it.” Voss explains with a slow wave of one hand. “The way I’ve been told it, most weather satellites can track large levels of electro-magnetic radiation, like the kind that creates ordinary auroras. Well, we’ve been picking up weird anomalous readings from out in the American Southwest. We don’t know what it means, but the readings are apparently unnaturally high and unpredictable. We haven’t combed through all of the data to know if it’s happening anywhere else.”

Sighing, Voss leans forward and folds his hands, elbows propped up on his knees. “Spy satellites turned in that direction don’t show anything unusual. No new construction, no sign of anything remarkable. We’re trying to coordinate with intelligence agencies for more data. But, you know how that goes.”

A thoughtful sound escapes Richard, and after a silent moment he says, “I have a… recommendation, but it depends on how loudly you’re going to glare at me when I tell you how many zeroes are going to go on a budgetary line item if implemented,”

He gestures across the car, “Weather satellites aren’t made for this sort of analysis, and retrofitting them would be a little hard without a space shuttle. But the equipment does exist to detect this sort of phenomena - and my people could probably modify it to work even better without too much trouble, given the data we’ve collected to date through the other experiments.”

“We could bring HAARP back online.”

“You're not going to like my answer,” Voss says with a furrow of his brows, bringing his clasped hands up to his mouth as he considers how to deliver that specific slice of news. “There's no easy way to say this, so I'll just rip off that band-aid…”

Voss lowers his hands and smooths his palms along his knees. “You already thought of that.”

Richard regards Voss for a long moment, and then he brings one hand up to rub over his face; fingers sliding beneath the shades, pressed against hidden eyes. “Of course,” he mutters, his voice tightening, “And what did my crazy-ass evil twin do, exactly?”

“That's a longer conversation, one I think Secretary Zimmerman will want to have with you. But the short of it is we think he might have been aware of the Looking Glass and at least researched some of how it functioned. We've uncovered communications at the Institute’s former holding called Sunstone implicating the late Erica Kravid in a project to reverse-engineer the machine with… some success. If what we've read is to be believed, there may have been a third Mateo Ruiz in this timeline, brought over by the device, one who died in the arcology.”

Leaning back into his seat, Voss exhales a sigh through his nose. “Unfortunately the work your goatee wearing twin was doing didn't ever get finished. Worse, whoever he had stationed up there scuttled the entire project with thermite. We've been trying to piece together exactly what he was working on, but…” Voss spreads his hands. “My kingdom for the ability to have only one massive fucking problem to need to address at a single time.”

Voss lifts up his glasses with one hand and massages the bridge of his nose, then turns to look out the window to the scenery going by. “We’re still picking up the pieces of that day, November 8th, even all these years out. Part of me is convinced we’ll always be living in the aftermath.”

“They thermited the place. Of course they did, why wouldn’t they? Because that makes perfect sense…” A heavy sigh spills past Richard’s lips, and he lets his hand fall, “I swear, every time I reach for something that might help make sense of all of this, that bastard already ruined it.”

A glance to the window as he tries to gauge how far out they are, suggesting, “What about the Colobanth facility? It’s possible the Company left something behind that could be useful…”

Voss raises a brow, it’s clear to Richard that he’s managed to pull something out of the back archives that not even Voss is familiar with. “I… will have to circle back to you on that one, that facility wasn’t anything I’ve been briefed on.” The SUV has started jostling as Voss speaks, and when Richard glances out the windows it’s clear they’ve pulled off the highway onto poorly maintained rural roads. Rural for the post-war America, at any rate. Rows of abandoned and weather-flattened homes reclaimed by nature spread out on either side of the two-lane street. Many of these buildings weren’t destroyed by the war, but by Hurricane Sandy when it tore through in 2012 after these neighborhoods had already been evacuated. No one ever returned to pick up the pieces.

“We’re almost there,” Voss says, motioning to the passenger-side window, where through the tinted glass the sky has taken on a shade of emerald green tinged with aqua just over the treeline. The light ebbs and flows like a lapping tide, blooming in the evening mist that’s settled on the northern fringes of the Pine Barrens.

“It was an old Company installation in Antarctica,” replies Richard with a shake of his head, “They were focused on something about space— it was back during the eighties, but I haven’t had the time, money, or time to plan an expedition down there.”

As the sky becomes turning green, he notes dryly, “Of course, if I had a government budget that would make life easier, but I know my evil twin sort of caused some issues there… mm. You know, it’s kind of beautiful.”

“You said time twice,” Voss comments without looking away from the window. Then, after a pause, he furrows his brows and offers a soft, “Oh.

He gets the joke now.

SESA Quarantine Zone

The New Jersey Pine Barrens

7:28 pm

The soft crunch of footfalls over a dirt and gravel road accompanies Richard and Voss as they make their way through a flattened stretch of forest, trees stripped of bark and gray. Ashes cling to the ground like the site of a massive pyre, kicked up into the air like they were walking on the surface of the moon. Up ahead, the greenish-blue glow in the clouds has grown stronger. Nearer, floodlights are set up by where three SUVs are parked across the road. Figures in drab military uniforms, clearly members of the military police, stand guard — armed — against intrusion.

As Voss approaches he takes out his identification and holds it out. They’d parked a quarter mile from this checkpoint, but the why of that isn’t immediately clear. “Deputy-Director Voss, I’m bringing a civilian contractor in.” The military police step aside and a couple of SESA agents waiting at the checkpoint offer Voss and Richard respirator masks with clear plastic visors.

“You’ll want to put this on,” Voss explains, handing it over to Richard. There’s no oxygen supply, just a charcoal filter screwed into the front. “The air in there is choked with ash.” The landscape, judging from the wat the SUVs are coated in a fine layer of bone-white powder seem to indicate as much. The ash is still falling from the air, like large snowflakes.

“Gentlemen,” the other agent says, “please observe all special containment protocols while inside. I’m going to repeat them for your safety. Failure to follow the containment protocols could result in injury or loss of life.”

“Jesus,” Richard murmurs as he looks over the wasted forest that spreads out before them, “Are we sure this place wasn’t nuked?”

He reaches out to accept the respirator mask, pulling it on - it’s not so much different from the ones that they have in their labs, after all, so he’s familiar with the process. He looks back to the agent offering the protocols then, a brow raising inside the mask as he listens.

“Mask on at all times,” the agent says, “when you pass the orange security lamps you are within contact distance to the electromagnetic anomaly. You are to not make prolonged, direct eye contact with the anomaly unless otherwise instructed to. Do not approach beyond the yellow tape stake line, do not make any attempt to make physical contact with the anomaly. Do not attempt telepathic contact.”

Voss is tightening the straps on his mask as the field agent recites from memory these conditions. He only interrupts once to say, “This isn’t over precaution, either.” The field agent nods to Voss and hands Richard and Voss each a blank plastic badge, instructing them to clip it somewhere visible on their torsos. “Keep an eye on your badge and on the badges of those around you, if you see someone without a badge on, please report them to the nearest agent. If you find yourself without your badge, please call out for an agent and do not make any sudden movements.”

The agent begins to step aside, retrieving a duffel bag from atop the ash-covered hood of an SUV. “All electronic devices in the bag please,” he instructs, to which Voss places his cell phone inside. “The area surrounding the anomaly is a highly electromagnetically-charged area and unshielded electronic devices will be destroyed in its presence.”

The blank badge is taken, clipped to the lapel of Richard’s suit in clear view; his cell phone dropped into the bag, he digs out a second burner phone as well and drops it into the bag also.

Then he drops in his watch.

“I’d make sure no spatiotemporal Evolved get anywhere near it as well,” he notes as he carries this out, “They’ve been known to have effects on these anoma— well, that’s not quite true. The anomalies have been known to have effects on them.”

The agent offers a look over to Voss, who just nods and inclines his head in the direction of the glow, leading Richard past the checkpoint and into the ash-strewn wasteland of flattened trees. “We’ve kept Agent Mustang out of here for precisely those reasons,” Voss admits once they’re out of earshot of the others. But in the silence between Voss’ words, that’s when Richard realizes just how quiet it is here. There’s no sounds of animals, insects, or even people. The only sound is the subtle noise of falling ash and the crunch of splintered wood underfoot. It’s like a nighttime snowfall in the woods. Though, not nearly as peaceful.

It doesn’t take long for their curving path through flattened trees to open out into a larger clearing where the trees aren’t even so much flattened as gone. There is just ash here, roughly a mile of it in an uneven field. Stray branches and scraps of what were once trees poke up from the detritus, the occasional twisted chunk of concrete or twisted rebar. The sky is darker here, contrasting sharply to the blue-green glow threatening to break through the clouds. Up ahead though, there’s firelight.

“We can’t get electric lamps down here, whatever this anomaly is burns out any electronic device and drains batteries. So we’ve resorted to oil lanterns and… more primitive means of illumination.” Voss says as they pass the first tiki torch lining the walkway down. Along the way, Richard spies men in yellow biohazard suits with geiger counters, traipsing through the ash taking readings.

“It’s not radioactive,” Voss finally clarifies, “whatever it is.” About half a mile from the site, Voss stops on the path and points ahead toward something about ten feet up off of the ground from the ring of tents, lanterns, and torches. “Don’t look at it too long, but… that’s it.”

There’s nothing there.

All Richard can see in the direction Voss indicates is darkness. Perhaps it’s too dark to see what it is? Until—


Richard perceives darkness differently, it isn’t dark at all.


It’s a blot. An amorphous mass of black some ten feet across, fuzzy on the edges with hues of purple. It’s like a blind spot in his vision, but fixed in place in the middle of the world.

“That’s our anomaly,” Voss says, like a begrudging parent.

There isn’t a lot of chatter out of Richard as they walk, the eerie silence dampening his usual habit of thinking aloud during such explorations— in a way, it reminds him of the concrete tomb of Manhattan, only with less concrete and brick.

“They need electricity to keep going,” he says quietly to Voss after a time, “At least the Looking Glass, and Ruiz’s ability, both do. That explains why it’s pulling power out of anything nearby, and that’s probably a good sign that it’s temporary… hopefully.”

Then they come upon it, and he stops— head lifting to look up, he brings a hand up after a moment to pull off his shades and let his eyes adjust. Then they widen.

“What the hell,” he exhales softly, “Is that?”

Voss exhales a sign and shakes his head. “At the moment, your guess is as good as ours. It registers as a high-frequency electromagnetic presence, but to the best of our ability we haven’t been able to get anything else from it. We called in a psychic from KC two days after it formed to see if it was some kind of doorway, but we still don’t know what he saw…” Voss grows quiet as they continue their approach. “He’s in a coma.”

Looking over to Richard, Voss’ expression is one of abject discomfort. It doesn’t take long for them to finish the walk up to the camp surrounding the site, where a handful of plastic tents have been erected in a half-circle around the anomaly. Oil-burning torches are staked into the ground around its perimeter, yellow caution tape strung between them. A handful of agents stand outside one of the tents with old matte black cameras, snapping physical media film on cameras that look like they came from John Logan’s backlog at the Vault. 1970s single action models.

“People who’ve looked at it for too long claim to hear voices, but most of them can’t remember what they heard after roughly ten minutes past exposure.” Voss indicates as an agent approaches in a yellow plastic suit, handing over a physical pen and paper clip board with notes and observations. “A bird flew into it the day we found it, there was like… a buzzing sound?” Voss angles a look at Richard. “Nothing came out.”

Richard looks at it with a tight frown. “It isn’t a vortex, like Ruiz’s ability… it isn’t a Looking Glass window either, this is something else…” One hand comes up to rub against his jaw as he thinks, “Drones are out, thanks to the electricity drain. We could try and hook the psychic up to a SEER system— it’s an unreleased medical technology we’ve developed, it allows communication with comatose patients.”

A sidelong glance to Voss before he looks back at the amorphous shape in the middle of the air, “Temperature readings? Previous string breaches have recorded serious friction heat.”

“Do you count the massive explosion a temperature reading?” Voss says with a dry tone, then checks the sheet he was handed. “According to this, ambient temperature within 1 mile of the anomaly is 3 degrees higher than outside.” He loops up from the file. “The explosion leveled everything for a mile, blew out windows for another mile past this. Thankfully nobody lives around here. We still haven’t identified the partial remains we found near ground zero, they’re still working on that. But…”

Voss starts walking again, leading Richard into one of the lantern-lit tents. “There’s also all of this.” A table covered in white plastic fills the middle of the tent where fragments of the destroyed trees are laid out. Bones, too, with attempts at reconstructing them into the shapes of the animals they were. “Lab technicians indicate that there’s no burned tissue on these bones. It’s like they’re… a thousand years old. They’re brittle, dry, and dead. Same with the trees, they’re just gray, dry wood. Even the soil samples we’ve taken show no microbial life except what we tracked in on our shoes.”

Voss looks up from the samples to Richard. “Nothing survived this.”

As the deputy director starts walking, so does Richard, ducking slightly into the tent and stepping over to the table.

“It wasn’t the explosion that did this, then, an explosion would’ve left some life behind…” Richard’s hands rest on the edge of the table as he leans forward to look at the bones and wooden fragments through the visor, though he’s careful not to touch anything.

There’s a silent moment, and then he asks reluctantly, “As… much as I don’t want to ask, have you compared the damage here to the evidence left behind from Kazimir Volken’s victims for any resemblance?”

That question elicits a dead-eyed look from Voss to Richard. “Nnnno,” is his uncertain answer. “I don’t think that’s ever come up, what with him being more than a decade dead. Bonus rounds included.” But then, as he looks back down to the ashen bones and dead tree flinders, Voss clenches his jaw and looks anxiously to the tent flap. “I suppose we live in a world of miracles and any stupid thing can happen, can’t it?”

Breathing in deeply through his respirator mask, Voss turns to walk out of the tent with Richard. “We’ve reached our wits end trying to examine this thing,” he says with a slow shake of his head. “Secretary Zimmerman recalled her son, he’ll be landing in the states in a week or so. We’re going to see if he can manipulate it— close it—something. Apparently he really likes magnets.” Voss shrugs, anxiously gripping the clipboard.

“I was hoping you might have some additional ideas.” That’s when Voss turns his attention, hopefully, over to Richard. “Because short of a blunt instrument, we’re shit out of ideas on figuring out what this is.”

“I’m not suggesting that Volken himself did this, but… the effect may have been similar,” Richard grimaces slightly as he pushes back up from the table, “I’d be interested in knowing how similar they are.”

A slightly worried look is shot to Voss, “Niklaus? He… well, maybe he could. His ability is fairly potent, top of the scale when dealing with magnetism. Directly trying to manipulate it without knowing more may be dangerous, though…”

Turning, he looks back out the flap, “Does it have any known effects until physical contact is made with the anomaly itself? How close can one safely get to it?” Back to Voss, “Any radio signals being picked up by any wild chance? We’ve picked up radio broadcasts between strings before, it might help us determine where this leads…” Just a barrage of questions now, it seems.

“Okay, apparently this thing isn't draining your batteries,” Voss cracks with a raise of one brow as he side-eyes Richard. “Uh,” for a moment he's forgotten what all the questions were. “As far as we know nothing outside of the audio hallucinations caused by staring into it for too long. Radio doesn't pick up anything, in fact it's just static out here. Even personal radios within a two-mike radius pick up nothing but static. They can't even communicate with each other.”

Voss finally hands off the clip board of data to another agent and turns to face Richard. “We've been debating reaching out to… your mother. We're at a shortage of geniuses, and any assets Raytech has whether in the immediate corporate family or through personal contacts, may be necessary. We’re also hoping to get Mr. Ruiz our here too… because…”

Turning back to the blot, Voss motions toward it, “according to our estimates, it's growing.” He looks away, down to his feet, then back over to Richard.

“Maybe I should've led with that.”

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