Apoplexic's Secondary Viewscreen

Today's Feature Presentation:

Sus domesticus Prepared for Consumption via Evaporation of Aqueous Solutions

An Investigative Log

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You will arrive at your destination in fifteen minutes.

"You heard Siri; time to go over the roles. Did everyone reread the briefing this morning?"

"Yes, sir."

"Yep."

"…Keith?"

"Boss, you ain't gotta remind me; you're the one'd fucked up in Vermont."

The driver smacked his fist against the steering wheel. "My objections to these Plain Sight protocols are well documented, which suggests to me that you did not reread the briefing this morning. In fact, I'm beginning to doubt you read the fucking briefing at all. Get into character, now." He poked at his cell.

A: Begin Investigative Log 721.4. Everyone, provide your designations for the record.

B: Special Agent Beta-721, Anaya Bhatia, FEIN: 182-581346, Department of Memetics and Cognitohazards, Jr. Researcher, Site-99. Mission designation is "Brinda."

C: Special Agent Gamma-721, Norman Gotfried, FEIN: 099-347288, Internal Affairs. Designated as "Chuck."

D: Special Agent Delta-721, Keith Mahoney, FEIN: 221-000436, Area-82 Chief of Security. We're callin' me "Doug" today.

A: Special Agent Alpha-721, Gary Chalmers, FEIN: 075-124662, designated as "Allen" for the course of these investigations. Commander of the assembled Mobile Task Force Theta-Zed-721, which unfortunately includes Mr. Mahoney; I will be filing my request to have him removed, in addition to reiterating my grievances with these protocols, upon returning to my office.

Our purpose today it to ascertain the continued viability of Area-721 in operating under the Plain Sight Protocols; the anomalous activity contained therein is a constant disturbance of ionized particles localized to a small area approximately eight meters above the ground, resulting in a pronounced aurora effect. The Area operates as a casual dining restaurant, and is billed as having a "retro-sci-fi atmosphere;" the anomaly is presented to the public as part of the immersive design.
Of the one hundred and twenty-two employees, only five are Foundation staff; we expect only the General Manger to be present today. As such, our investigation is conducted under the guise of typical members of the lunchtime customer base.

The outside of the restaurant is an eyesore of polished steel and reflective window coatings, oblong, with a bubble of glass poking from the middle; the anomalous lights were visible even in the middle of the day, purples and greens casting shade on the pseudochrome below. The four agents exited their sedan and were greeted with a wait at the door.

"Looks busy folks; maybe we should eat somewhere else."

"Nah boss, this place's supposed'ta have the best seafood in Albany; should be worth the wait."

"And the kitch, I hope." Bhatia busied herself with a tablet. "It is positively rated on Yelp."

"Hello, welcome to Area 721!" The hosts all wore silver jumpsuits, and seemed equally perky as the woman greeting the team. "How many in your party?"

"Four."

"Right this way, please!"

They were led over the gridwork of matte black tiles and bright yellow grout. A myriad of potential containment breaches munched on various sundries surrounded by grey aliens and saucer-shaped lamps. The tables were touch-screen; menus popped up as their hostess tapped on the surface.

"Here you are; your server will be with you in just a moment! In the meantime, take a look at the menu, our lunch special today is the spaghetti alle vongole, I really recommend it, it's excellent!"

"What's with the pineapples?" Mahoney gestured to the various papier-mâché fruit several employees were busy placing around the restaurant. "That's not very space-y."

"Oh, we have a private party reserving the place tonight; they requested a luau theme."

"Damn, and we missed it?"

Chalmers shot Mahoney a look that suggested termination, and he responded with a laugh, letting the hostess go back to her duties. "Leave off it Doug, it's like you never learned manners."

The ordering process proceeded much as expected; Bhatia was taking discreet recordings of the anomaly with the tablet, while the rest of the group observed the crowd. Their conversation revolved around standard business jargon, meaningless without context.

"Now, sales from the eighth district were down 11% for product fourteen; if you remember, that's when the distribut-"

"Hey, Allen, look at that kid; they're just staring at the ceiling." The conversation dropped to hushed tones. "Brinda, you getting anything?"

"Negative." She cleared her throat. "Right, that was when the changed the packaging materials."

"We're showing that increased plastic use is negatively impacting the environmentally-conscious base in the area."

"What would you suggest we do? They've gone back to eating now, doesn't seem like a problem."

"As before, I'm recommending an across-the-board initiative for sustainable packaging for our entire product line."

"Do you smell something?"

Sure enough, the shrill shriek of a fire detection system disrupted the dining experience. A man in a blue suit emerged from the kitchen, with a few other employees gathered around.

"Everyone, we've had a small fire in the back. It's under control, but I'm afraid that I have to ask you all to proceed in an orderly fashion to one of the exits. Shirley - take everyone to the muster point - everyone, see Shirley for your concerns, and coupons for your next lunch on the house. We're very sorry for the inconvenience."

As the crowd shuffled out, the four agents quickly approached the manager. Bhatia interrupted him with the tablet - "Seymour Skinner?" - at which he frowned. "Right, um…Megan, get everyone out, and tell Jimmy he has to coordinate with the fire department. These folks are from the parent company, we'll be down in the office."

"Well, what happened here Seymour?"

"It's really nothing, sir." As they passed through the kitchen, the manager waved at a large industrial steam oven. "We have a whole pig cooking for a reservation tonight; one of the chefs opened the wrong door, and the steam set off the detection system."

"So then why evacuate? You've already turned it off, it doesn't seem to be a danger. Operating at a loss isn't the idea here."

"City ordinance; we have to shut down until the Fire Marshall shows up."

With the office door shut and locked, the real interview began. Pages of incident reports, safety inspection summaries, and maintenance logs were reviewed. After about an hour, Mahoney tossed his assigned materials aside. "We never got lunch; isn't this some labor violation?"

"The chefs can't make anything; we're not allowed to operate at all, might even get a fine for being in the office."

"Siri says there's a Jack-in-the-Box a few kilometers away."

"Fantastic, fast-food hamburgers," Chalmers sighed. "Might as well go, we'll be here for a while." He rose, shaking his head. "This has been quite the unforgettable luncheon, Seymour."

"They steam a good ham."


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