Do Not Tap the Glass

On the fritz again. That had been the excuse Agent Lowkey had been giving out generously whenever asked about his new favored toy. Nearly every mission that he brought it with him ended up a catastrophic failure thanks to it's extremely fickle temperament. 

The "Bag O' Tricks" as he called it, was meant to be an all purpose, covert weapon standard issued to F.O.W.L. agents. Even trial runs, however, it proved to be utterly useless at best. What was supposed to be a briefcase turning into a handheld anti tank rifle ended up being...a very large spatula. What was supposed to be a flamethrower ended up being a can of bug spray. All useful in very specific situations, but nothing particularly great for thieving large sums of money.This agent disagreed and practically begged to be allowed the one surviving prototype for his own personal use. 

And for a while, it worked out just fine. Anything the briefcase decided to spit out, he would make do. And usually it worked out. 65% of the time, he'd imagine. Lately, however, he's found that his prized possession of pain wouldn't cooperate with him in the slightest. Certainly, there were days when it did him no favors, but the frequency was starting to become alarming. Even he had to admit, it was time for a check up. 

"Don't you worry, friend. I'm going to take you somewhere to get you fixed up, good as new," he cooed and gently rubbed the deadly portfolio. He gave it a tight hug, feeling he wasn't assuring it enough. "They're never splitting us apart. Not in a million years or until I find a better weapon." 

Where he was taking his tool ended up being the lab/office/home/wasteland of his good friend, Cornelius. If there was anyone who could even partially fix this, and off the record, it was the mad doctor. Slightly off hinged possible doctor. 

He arrived, ready to see his gear brought back to new life.

"Pops! I need a favor, fix this thing." 

He held up the briefcase. And a loose spring shot out. And some oil leaked onto the floor. And a buzzsaw popped out. 

    • Lilly Teal
      Lilly Teal

      Now normally people knew better than to just barge into the lab without knocking. It wasn't as if Cornelius was a stickler for politeness or that there was some policy of privacy, but there had been one too many times where the latest experiment had gone wrong in the direction of the door. It was just safer to knock and wait until the sounds of wrangling mad science had died down.

      Rey usually never knocked. But amazingly enough he was still here, relatively unscathed. Luck seemed to be with him again today, as there was no science pointed towards the door, or even currently being worked on. Cornelius was at his desk with a cup of coffee, scribbling away. ... at least, there was probably a desk under all that paper. And it was possibly coffee, not black tar. Possibly.

      The doctor looked up and beamed at the familiar voice, only for his friendly expression to turn into confusion at the buzzsaw spinning merrily in the side of the briefcase.

      "Is it not supposed to do that?"

      This may come as a shock, but this may be the one instance of FOWL mad science Cornelius had NOT had a hand in developing. Clearly outsourced. No wonder it didn't work properly.

      • Reynard Lowkey
        Reynard Lowkey

        "Not unless I tell it to." 

        There were a few more unexpected productions before it finally calmed down enough for Reynard to set it down safely. He took a seat on top of the desk Cornelius had been working, only slightly shifting papers around to see what he had been so engrossed in to the point that there were no (active) experiments keeping him occupied. Naturally, he could comprehend exactly none of what was on the paper and returned to his business. 

        "Which, fun, I do like the spontaneity even more than before, but I do like to have what pops out work when it does." 

        The ink drenched saw blade left on the floor received a judgmental stare from him. Even an accusational point of the finger, goodness it was in trouble. 

        "Did you see the spin on that saw? It couldn't cut through a hot dog, let alone concrete like it's supposed to. I love this bag, but if I don't get it to work even half right, they're going to take it away from me." 

        Again, he clutched the bag to his body, protecting it from the hypothetical but increasingly possible threat of separation. 

        "Can you fix it, pleeeeease?" There was probably no need, but puppy dog eyes were thrown into his pleadings. 

        • Lilly Teal
          Lilly Teal

          No puppy eyes necessary, my boy! Cornelius was already looking at the contraption with that very special excited (one could even call it manic) glint in his eye.

          "I have wanted to get my hands on one of these," he mused, fingers clearly itching to do so. "Just to poke around." A quick glance at Rey's expression, and he tried to focus his enthusiasm a little. This was repair work, not for his personal curiosity and amusement.

          Of course, no reason it couldn't be both, but he'd have to pay extra close attention to remembering it was supposed to work at the end of his fun.

          "I'll do my best to fix it, my boy, don't worry," he said with a warm smile, giving the young agent a pat on the back and the briefcase a pat on the side, prompting another spurt of oil that he didn't seem to notice. "Hmm, looks like it needs a lot of care."

          That's alright, he was good at care. Turning to get his tools, he paused as a cheerful thought occurred to him, and started patting his pockets instead.

          "In fact, this is excellent timing! If you want to stay, you can do me a favour while I work on your briefcase for you. I was just about to feed my" genetic horrors "pets." Aha! Here's the key to the food cabinets. "Do you want to do that for me?"

          • Reynard Lowkey
            Reynard Lowkey

            He eyed the key before taking it in his own hand. Testing the weight, he found it to be that happy medium between light enough to forget where you put it and so heavy my pants are sagging. He stored in his pocket for safekeeping. 

            "Done and done. I'm assuming it's down that hallway?" He pointed to the normally imposing and large sized corridor with numerous warning signs and labels that from a glance he could vaguely draw a sense that some sort of creatures inhabited that general area. "You take care of this, and I'll take care of them." 

            A fair trade, Reynard couldn't be more pleased with this outcome. Not even the noticeably dim lighting and flickering lights swept away his mood as he walked towards his new assignment. He only hoped the food was labeled for him to take out the guess work. 

            What could go wrong?

            • Lilly Teal
              Lilly Teal

              The exact first thing that went wrong, was that one of the animals was already out of its cage and trying to get into another one.

              A large boa constrictor looked up guiltily from a puddle of acid and smoking metal, caught in the act of trying to burn its way through to some of the smaller and more delicious genetic experiments. Said smaller and more delicious animals were sending out small, concentrated sonic pulses in sheer panic, that sent shockwaves all the way down the big snake and was almost discouraging.

              What was encouraging and exciting, though, was the sight of someone who was potentially there to feed them. With a delighted hissing, it slithered over and wound around his legs, trying to be affectionate in the way that is only cute with dogs and cats, not pythons.

              Are you going to open the magic food doors? Are you, are you huh?

              Cornelius took a moment to wonder if he had labelled all the food bags, and reassured himself that he had probably labelled 80% of them, before laying the briefcase on his work table and giving it a poke with a screwdriver.

              • Reynard Lowkey
                Reynard Lowkey

                He wasn't quit sure what to make of the sight. His understanding of most animals was limited at best, and these being genetically enhanced made it all the more difficult to make a judgement call. 

                He saw something very large and very...leaky was already out and about. That was usually bad. The very loud noises from the other cages definitely tipped him off that this wasn't exactly right. On the other hand, this, he thinks a snake, didn't seem to give him much trouble. He returned the affection with a pat on the head. 

                "Aren't you a big fella. Must be hungry to bust out your cage like that. Now, what to feed you..." 

                Clearly these smaller animals were on the menu for his long friend, but was that okay? Sometimes animals ate other animals in labs, he's seen it. But the acid? No, that certainly wasn't needed for feedings every time. He thought, at least. 

                Another coil around his leg brought Reynard back from his thoughts. He looked down with a neutral face before dragging his way to one of the cages. The screaming started again, but he could ignore it for a while. When the cage did not open on its own, he tried to use the key he was given. 

                "Nothing. Sorry, pal, I don't think they're for you. Sorry about that little guys. I'll get your friend here fed then move on to you." 

                Again, he limped his way across the room, the constrictor determined to make sure it would have first dibs at meal time. Reynard didn't seem to mind. The acid trail they left behind didn't even touch him. 

                Cornelius on the other hand would find that the slightest poke from the tool gave an unequal but very opposite reaction. A side compartment flipped down, and from the impossibly small opening, he would guess an equally impossibly long ladder shot out with enough force to not only scatter his precious paper work, but also leave an indention in the far side wall. 

                • Lilly Teal
                  Lilly Teal

                  The size of it definitely caught him off guard, but he side-stepped being jabbed in the stomach with surprising agility, and let out a delighted laugh.

                  "Wonderful! What excellent dimension bending work to allow such a long thing to fit into such a tiny space."

                  It was a shame about the paperwork of course, but that couldn't be helped. Pausing a little in his excitement, he collected all the paper from the floor into a neat little pile and just left it there. No sense it picking them up off of the floor if they were just going to fall there again, right?

                  Humming happily, he dragged a little bench closer and laid out his nice shiny sharp things within easy reach, before rolling up his sleeves and trying to get a reaction from the opposite side.

                  ~~~

                  The food cabinet was a very sturdy one, to prevent any sneaky snacking on anyone's part. It looked a lot more heavy duty than some of FOWL's own vaults, come to think of it. The constrictor's hissing increased in excitement as they shuffled closer, only to be interrupted by a heart-stopping screech from a tank near the cabinet. A pair of eel eyes looked balefully at the snake, then the legs wrapped around it, and then the owner of the legs.

                  Are you feeding him first?! But I'm the favourite!

                  The creature heaved at the tank, attempting to tip it over the edge of the shelf and smash open. Dibs! Dibs, damn it all!

                  • Reynard Lowkey
                    Reynard Lowkey

                    He hadn't noticed it at first, no accustomed to the excitable nature of the specimens in the lab, but a few more rocks and bumps fully caught his attention/.

                    "Whoa whoa whoa no!" With as much speed as the boa on his leg would allow him, the agent turned zoo keeper scurried over to the tank before it could fall completely. His lopsided weight and panicked movement only had him crash into the glass at an awkward angle, just as it was about to fall. One hand managed to properly hold up the container in place, but the way he landed forced him to prop up the other side with his elbow. With his back to the tank and the snake still wrapped around his leg, he was stuck for a moment.

                    "Hey, no, bad! Do not tip over you home, that's a bad." He scolded as best he could, but it was an unnatural thing for him to be the responsible on. 

                    He would try to lift the tank back up, but the way he had propped up against his body made even the slightest movement seem unsafe. 

                     

                    Back at Cornelius' side, his fiddling gave yet another interesting reaction. Nothing. It sat there, not a buzz or burp coming from it. Several pained moments of inactivity later, though, the ladder retracted. Half way. 

                    • Lilly Teal
                      Lilly Teal

                      Ah well, it seemed logical prodding wouldn't do a thing. Time to break in.

                      But first, he paused, something he never thought he'd say to himself.

                      Safety goggles on. Bonesaw out. Let's do this.

                      ~~~

                      The tank wobbled wildly, not helped at all by the fact that the eel was now making agitated circles in the small space, or the fact that the snake wasn't giving him full use of his legs. Inch by painful inch, the tank would be scraped sloooooooowly back onto the shelf, only to suddenly jolt back out of place with a well timed bump to the tank wall.

                      The snake tried to be helpful, climbing up Rey's body to look at the tank.

                      There was a faint sizzling sound over his shoulder, and the tantrum in the tank stopped. Oh good, it would be much easier to push it back now that the eel was-

                      There was a small fluttering noise.

                      - was floating merrily in front of his face snake did you accidentally burn through the tank wall with your acid spit?

                      • Reynard Lowkey
                        Reynard Lowkey

                        Efforts to hold up the tank were momentarily put on pause as Reynard watched the eel, now flying, pass by a few times. Both he and the acid spitting constrictor around him took an uncharacteristic moment to just watch it flutter about without a care. 

                        "M'kay, well, I guess you're out of there for a bit now." What was left of the container was pushed back into it's proper place. The acid continued to eat away at it and the surrounding area, but the corrosion was slowing down to some bubbling and smoke. Negligible damage as far as he was concerned. "Don't suppose any of you know where the food is, do you? Other than each other, let's just avoid that whole mess right away." 

                        -----

                        The last bit of ladder retracted. Then more inaction. 

                        Surely the device would defend itself from any possible harm. But even as the goggles came on and the bonesaw inched closer it did nothing. All seemed well, until the saw made contact. Sparks flew, and awful sound akin to scrapping metal and sizzling air echoed in the lab. Not a scratch was made on the briefcase. But Cornelius would see that the saw was worn down and impossibly bent from the ordeal. 

                        • Lilly Teal
                          Lilly Teal

                          That was one of my favourite bonesaws...

                          "Be reasonable," he said, as if talking to a sentient patient. Picking up a knife, he tried to slide it into the join that came between the two halves of the briefcase. "I just want to fix you little so you can be used and loved as you should. I'm not going to completely dismantle you, as much as I want to."

                          ~~~

                          The eel gave him a look, and then chirped, fluttering over to the heavy, vault-like cabinet doors. Food food food!

                          It was so excited it gave off an electric jolt. Not the best idea when you're near a massive metal door, and the frame sizzled and sparked for a moment before the eel had the grace to look embarrassed and retreat some distance away from it.

                          The sparking near the food cabinet door attracted the attention of all the other cage and tank inhabitants. The psychic gerbils tried to rattle the padlock from where they were standing. Food food food!

                          Should Rey choose, or rather be finally able to open the door, he would find neatly labelled bags and a nice list detailing amounts for each animal.

                          Or rather, he would find bags, only most of which were labelled, and a list that was nice before half of it was set on fire.

                          • Reynard Lowkey
                            Reynard Lowkey

                            The charred remains of the list were glanced at and the cornucopia of animal food inspected briefly before the agent looked back at his new friends who were hungrily clambering for his immediate attention.

                            "Bah! Who reads these days anyways?" The eel and snake looked at each other. "Don't answer that, I'm merely making a point."

                            The closest bin without a label to him was opened and his hand reached inside for whatever contents may be there. 

                            "Like this stuff, I'm sure just by looking at...Well, feeling it I can tell. Um. Maybe if I try some?"

                            He had no confidence in the plan, but it was all he had.

                            ---

                            His efforts to pry open the excessively uncooperative patient of his was met with more quiet protest. Eventually though, Cornelius' fiddling finally managed a slightly more normal reaction. A small click came from inside and the top loosened before flying open. Inside though, was another, smaller briefcase. 

                            • Lilly Teal
                              Lilly Teal

                              Cornelius paused, delighted and itching hugely to dive back into poking and prodding now that there seemed to be some result. But for once, calmer senses prevailed, and he walked off to get some paper, a pen, and... a clear box?

                              The briefcase was swiftly scooped up and closed firmly inside the very sturdy almost 96% acid-explosion-and-fire-proof box, before he stuck his hands through two holes with gloves attached to them and tried to pry open the next one, like it was a contagious object.

                              It might well be, honestly.

                              "Nesting boxes, how charming. Frustrating because you won't let me access the dimensional properties that make it possible, but charming."

                              And what will the surprise at the center be? A rocket? Poison gas? Spikes that fly off in all directions? It's like Christmas!

                              ~~~

                              Whatever it was, it was dry and soft, faintly marshmallowy in texture, though sections of the soft structure crunched disquietingly like walking over shells or bones. The little faintly pink marshmallows had small and large black spots all over them, and if he dared to taste them one... actually not too bad, they tasted like slightly salty fish crackers. Except instead of being crispy, with a marshmallow texture with surprise crispy bits.

                              Is... is that a fish eye or just a slightly shiny black spot in that marshmallow?

                              Well. Fish. Eels like fish? It was a semi logical conclusion to come to. Not least because the eel was now trying to get past his hand to burrow into the bin and eat ALL OF IT YES NO PORTIONS FOR ME AHAHAHAHAHAHA.

                              • Reynard Lowkey
                                Reynard Lowkey

                                He wasn't oblivious to the excitable elevated eel's attempts at feeding. And part of him briefly wondered if there was a certain amount of food they should be given. Briefly. 

                                "Okay, this is obviously yours," he lowered his hand and allowed safe and easy passage to the entirety of the bin. "Don't go giving yourself a stomach ache now." 

                                This was an easy assignment, he thought. Once the navigation was taken care of, it all sort of took care of itself. And given the higher than average level of intelligence from the animals, it only seemed fair that they could feed themselves without issue. 

                                To that end, he began to unlock each cage and container with the many, many modified creatures, setting them free to whatever bin they desired. He would of course supervise to make sure it doesn't get too rowdy and close everything up when lunch was done. 

                                ----

                                Any efforts to pry open the second box would be fruitless. It was completely smooth, unlike its identical container. No seams or holes in it. A decoy, perhaps? Oh wait no, it's retracted back into itself and revealed some sort of cannon? Maybe this is the deadly arsenal that it's supposed to carr-it shot out a t-shirt. It's a t-shirt cannon. 

                                • Lilly Teal
                                  Lilly Teal

                                  Tongs in hand, he slid the shirt out. This shirt now belonged to him, thank you.

                                  "Well I can see how this might be useful as a distraction."

                                  Humming, he ran his hands over it carefully to make sure there were no cracks and creaks. Well the main issue was that the things that came out didn't work, and this particular oddity worked just fine. Time to look for something else. He peered into the depths of the outer, open briefcase.

                                  Oooh, what does thiiiiiiiis thing that looks vaguely like a button do?

                                  ~~~

                                  Stomach ache what's one of those?

                                  Or rather mhgnmmh mhch wffs mhm oos?

                                  It's just as well he was supervising, because rather than go for its food bit, the snake gave an excited hiss and fell on the rodent-shaped experiments like lightning, sending another round of screams and sonic pulses, some of which only seemed to be occurring inside Rey's head.

                                  The snake started levitating about an inch off the ground, clearly the effort of some very terrified psychic gerbils, but which unfortunately didn't put it high enough to stop trying to terrorise and eat them.

                                  HELP. HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP.

                                  • Reynard Lowkey
                                    Reynard Lowkey

                                    Reynard grimaced at unpleasant noise drilling into his skull. He brought his hands to his ears, but quickly found out how useless that was. The screeching would not die down and even had the slights hint of language in them. As if it transcended words themselves went straight to forcing an understanding into his brain. In any case, it was terrible and he wanted it to end, right now.

                                    The tail end of the snake was grabbed and pulled in. Like a rope, he wrapped it around his arm a bit, to ensure it wouldn't be going anywhere without his notice. 

                                    "Hey. Heeeey. I'm pretty sure if they were on the menu, they'd be in one of those bins there," he scolded more like an annoyed parent. The noise had truly drained his patience and left him with slight agitation. "Just sit tight while everyone else finishes up. I bet pops is all done with the repairs by now."

                                    ---

                                    Far from done. 

                                    The moment the button was even noticed, not even pushed, a click came from it. Then the whole contraption closed shut suddenly. Some whirring of gears from inside. The briefcase even rocked back and forth a little at the force of its own unknown doings. Then two side panels opened up. Shot out really. Rotated a bit. The top of the case slid back before rising on previously unseen bars. The briefcase had turned into a multi monitor laptop with the the FOWL symbol as the desktop wallpaper. On the main screen was a simple white bar and blinking square at one end, indicating it was waiting for a password.

                                    • Lilly Teal
                                      Lilly Teal

                                      "Oh fantastic, a computer. How does it fold away without damaging the circuitry?" Cornelius honey, you realise nobody is around to hear you talk, right?

                                      It was highly unlikely High Command had let Rey personalise the computer, so that ruled out personal passwords. And considering it never got past the trial stage, it was just as unlikely that they would have had the computer passwords changed to official numbers they would hand out with each piece, demanding memorisation and destruction.

                                      If anyone even knew this computer existed.

                                      "Logically the best option is the what was input when the computer itself was manufactured." Possibly came in the instruction manual. "Do you come with an instruction manual?"

                                      Unlikely. Looking thoughtful, he briefly considered a logical research session where he tried to work back to what potential passwords there could be and make a short list that he could attempt. Even provided the computer allowed more than one incorrect password.

                                      Then he shrugged, and just typed in 'password'.

                                      IT WAS WORTH A TRY.

                                      ~~~

                                      Looking sulky, the snake wrapped its way up his arm and draped over his shoulders like a warm, breathing scarf. The screaming had stopped, in fact there was nothing being inputted into his brain anymore. All there was around the cabinet was a happy, low-key sound of eating.

                                      Oh look, someone's set one of the food bins on fire.

                                      Ah well, at least almost everyone's happy, right?

                                      • Reynard Lowkey
                                        Reynard Lowkey

                                        The flames provided some mild entertainment as various slimes, blasts and scurrying happened around him. He barely blinked when the fire roared and expanded out for a second before returning to a smoldering wisp of a flame. The thought to put it out had crossed his mind, but warm food always tasted best. Unless it was ice cream. But even then, it tasted just fine. 

                                        A pair of gerbils that had earlier simply had a few extra eyes and horns had now ballooned from the sheer amount of food they had ingested. They didn't so much waddle as the did roll themselves past Reynard's feet. The snake around his shoulders made a few dedicated attempts at snatching them up, but the new caretaker didn't budge from his spot. 

                                        "Okay, everyone done? Good and fed? Great, let's get back to those cages, take a nice long nap and dream of whatever it is you dream of." 

                                        The stuffed animals looked at him all at once, then at each other. Do they return to confinement so easily, they collectively wondered. 

                                        ---

                                        The screen dimmed. Some computer calculating sounds rumbled inside, then the desktop page returned. Evidently, that was in fact the password. Or at the very least, it accepted whatever was typed into it. 

                                        The two side monitors were completely blank, but the center one had icons for several folders. One labeled recordings apparently had several files in it. 

                                        • Lilly Teal
                                          Lilly Teal

                                          "Hmmhm, computer seems to function just fine." Add that to the list with a little tick mark next to it. Looking up from his paper, he brightened up at the folders, particularly the one labelled recordings.

                                          "Content? What is it, training videos, I suppose?" I wasn't here at orientation, I wonder what FOWL training videos look like.

                                          Of course, what kind of scientist would he be if he just wondered? He had to click.

                                          ~~~

                                          Ahahahahahah no.

                                          With no preamble whatsoever, the psychic gerbils started to make a break for the exit, rolling at the head of a slowly building group bidding for freedom.

                                          The eel just looked very sick and remained lying in the bottom of its food bin. The snake seemed very happy with its new best friend, and stayed on Rey's shoulders. Though it did give him an 'I told you we should have just eaten them' look.

                                          • Reynard Lowkey
                                            Reynard Lowkey

                                            "Oh don't you start with me, I already have one accessory giving me unnecessary sass right now." 

                                            For whatever reason, someone had thought ahead enough to put several nets around the area perfectly sized to capture the escaping specimens. 

                                            He walked past any that were clearly too full to make a run for it, assuming they'd be far too bloated or sleepy to do anything. 

                                            First up, the gerbils. 

                                            Last he saw, they rounded (hehe) the corner towards that even more dimly lit hallway. Reynard was definitely going to ask about the poor quality lights down here some day. Puddles of...something created a convenient trail for him to follow, but the convenience ended when the puddles ended abruptly. Surely they hadn't tricked him so easily. 

                                            Something behind him moved and he whipped around, ready to strike. He was met with a pile of boxes. 

                                            "Hide and seek, eh? Always wanted to play that game." 

                                            ---

                                            The video loaded. The title briefly flashed, a series of random letters and numbers. Definitely not user created. 

                                            Then it began to play. 

                                            It was a low angle shot, constantly swinging back and forth. A white shoe occasionally came into view. There was whistling. The tune, somewhat familiar. Then it stopped. Everything. The swinging, the music. 

                                            The camera shook again, wild and rapid before settling again. Some voices in the distance. Two shadows on the floor grew closer to the camera and its operator. Another shake. 

                                            From the view, it was clear the person holding the camera was now facing the owners of the voices. 

                                            "Good evening, friends!" Reynard's voice. "I was hoping you could help me out with something. See I'm looking for this fancy shmancy, one of a kind jewel or something. Pamphlet says it's around here and-" 

                                            "Hands in the air!" Shouting. Some clicks. 

                                            "Oh sure, here, let me put my briefcase down real quick and..." The video goes black, but the sound is still going. There's some more shouting, grunting, laughter (Reynard's) and thuds. 

                                            The video returns to two people wrapped in some sort of net. Reynard is standing over them. All three in the distance. He must have left the camera on the ground. 

                                            Or. 

                                            The briefcase records some its outings without anyone knowing. 

                                            "Sorry about that fellas, I was going for a 'oil slick-hilariously large boxing glove-fan' combo but this thing can get all screwy on me. The burns don't look that bad!" 

                                            • Lilly Teal
                                              Lilly Teal

                                              That gave Cornelius pause, as he tried to work out what exactly he was looking at. The little scientist put down his notes and tilted his head at the screen from different angles, trying to figure out, based on the positioning, where the camera would be in this situation.

                                              "You seem to function perfectly well to me," he remarked. "If you made that recording." Not bad for someone who can't position themselves. And considering you're doing this on your own, I'm so glad I talk to all of my machines.

                                              He didn't have any lecture to give about how unethical or otherwise it was to record people without their knowledge, mostly because he wasn't aware that was an issue.

                                              "Now what, oh what can the problem be, exactly," he mused. "Sheer stubborness? Boredom?"

                                              Because given the state of my bone-saw, it definitely isn't a case of something breaking.

                                              ~~~

                                              Good luck with that one, Rey. One of the boxes at the top of the pile teetered and fell towards him. It might have been a more serious situation if the snake hadn't irritably spit at the box and dissolved half of it on the way down.

                                              This is my cushion and you're not allowed to brain him!

                                              Beyond that, there was just an eerie silence.

                                              • Reynard Lowkey
                                                Reynard Lowkey

                                                "You know, if it didn't totally clash with the sort of theme I've got going on, I'd really consider partnering up with you, my legless friend." 

                                                A hiss in acknowledgement. Unsure in what way, but the thought was discarded for a more productive one. Where were those gerbils? 

                                                Obviously, the first place to check was the first disturbance, but they were most likely long gone. He had the idea that they'd be slowed from the food, but either that was a false assumption or they had gotten over it somehow. 

                                                He poked around some more suspicious areas. 

                                                "Okay, I'm not having fun. Snake-friend. Surely your string thing tongue can search them out. Help me out? Without eating them, of course." 

                                                ---

                                                Without prompting, another video started. Then another. And another. Multiple windows piled on top of each other, but only playing brief portions of the full sequence. 

                                                One video had the camera on ground level again, when what looked like the blurry figure of Reynard's shoe swept by and the scenery went tumbling. The last view is of the imminent impact into a body of water, a flurry of bubbles and the accompanying 'Whoops' from above. 

                                                Another: Reynard is wiping the camera, or at least where the camera is on the briefcase, apologizing for the 'mess'. 

                                                Another: Reynard is reclining, some light source in front of him is flickering mildly and voices can be heard from it. Suddenly,  a laugh track. Obviously watching Pelican's Island. Reynard throws his head back, arms shoot out as he bursts out in laughter himself, knocking over the brief case. He doesn't pick it up by the time the video ends. He's just laughing. 

                                                More and more clips pour through of carelessness and mishandling, with some moments of cooperation between the two. Then the computer shuts off and returns to base form. 

                                                • Lilly Teal
                                                  Lilly Teal

                                                  He nodded, giving little mhms and ahs as he made a few more notes. This had somehow turned into a psychiatry session.

                                                  Now that the briefcase was back to looking like a briefcase, he opened up the quarantine box and slid it carefully back out. He was still certain nothing was broken or damaged, but given all the casual dropping, it was his duty as a doctor to check. Pulling off his examination gloves, his ran his fingers carefully over every edge of the briefcase for cracks and abrasions.

                                                  "Ah." So that's what it is. To be fair, Rey would have had no idea the briefcase had any finer feelings to hurt. That could be remedied.

                                                  "Not that I would know, but I've heard he has a habit of doing the same even with those who can speak up." He's a little inattentive that way. Just needs some prodding. "But he's a good boy, I'll let him know. Well." Stepping back, he clapped his hands once. "I think we can consider this check up concluded. But I also think we should have more regular ones scheduled."

                                                  But doctoooooooor.

                                                  ~~~

                                                  Without eating them? Do you not want me to have fun either, because that's what it looks like.

                                                  If it was possible for a snake to huff, it huffed, sliding down his arm and disappearing into the darkness behind the boxes.

                                                  There was a sudden, horrible sizzling.

                                                  There was a sudden horrible silence.

                                                  And then out of nowhere, three gerbils with singed fun shot out from their hiding places and threw themselves on Rey, trying to burrow into his pockets and under his hat for safety. The snake slithered back out, looking incredibly smug with itself.

                                                  You see? That's how you do it. Take notes, buddy.

                                                  • Reynard Lowkey
                                                    Reynard Lowkey

                                                    "Don't look too pleased with yourself." He chided but made no effort to hide the pleased grin he was sporting. He missed this cooperation and success that came from a partner that listened once in a while. Harsh as it may sound, dealing with that finicky briefcase was starting to sour the relationship a bit. He'd almost be content to just swing it around like a club, rather than risk waiting for some gadget or gizmo to not come out at all. 

                                                    But he shook that thought right out of his head. What was he thinking? Abandonment? Demoting it to all intents and purposes a baseball bat? No, what they had was a special bond, one that could not be made between any of the other agents. It was simply malfunctioning, nothing that could be helped. After this is all over and the fixes are completed, things will be good again. 

                                                    "And then we can go back to causing wanton destruction and mayhem, like we used to," he said it like they were careless summer days gone by. This earned a look from his temporary partner that might be loosely translated to 'what in the world are you talking about?' He earned a 'shush' for his troubles. 

                                                    Last few critters need to be contained, then return to the professor. 

                                                    ---

                                                    The briefcase made no further transformations or adjustments afterwards. It was either content to listen without input or knew that it would be understood regardless. 

                                                    Then again...

                                                    The the compartment opened, latches unlocking on their own, like you would expect it do. Inside, however, wasn't any deadly weapons. No evidence of hidden dimensions. Not even a little creature turning knobs and switching gears. 

                                                    What was left in the almost entirely empty space was...

                                                    A gift card to fairly popular local restaurant. $20. 

                                                    • Lilly Teal
                                                      Lilly Teal

                                                      "Oh." He blinked, a little nonplussed, and then brightened considerably as he lifted it up. "For me?"

                                                      Two presents? Because I'm counting the shirt as one, it's mine now. "Most kind! Nobody usually thanks the doctor. I shall use this as soon as I can catch a free moment."

                                                      Usually never until he is physically forced to take a break, but that would be a rude reaction that indicates you do not want to actually use the gift given to you, so he intended to schedule some eating-out time.

                                                      ~~~

                                                      If the snake had eyebrows, it would have raised them at him, but contented itself with slithering along at his heels so that he could carry the gerbils back to their cage.

                                                      Many of the animals had fallen asleep in various spots on the floor or shelves. It would just require some careful handling to put them back inside, with no more trouble.

                                                      As if sensing the peaceful situation, the eel was promptly sick, making miserable noises.

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