Ah, Agent. I won’t introduce myself, if you understand me. No names, no pack drill. Also noticed my colleagues who are free with their identities tend to die by violence pretty smartly thereafter. Not a popular job, you understand.
We’re the ones who will come for you, y’see. Oh, not necessarily. Don’t misunderstand me. But your job is high-risk. And we can’t take risks, not with The Lighthouse. Not with the security of the Time-Shields.
Some Rupert upstairs decided, after that little snafu with McZander in the “O” entry, that you Agents were owed some explanation about the Quarantine process. Wasn’t happy about the thing, myself. Stared at the fellow, unable to Grasp. Then it clicked.
“Tell ’em about our little set, y’mean?” I asked.
The Rupert nodded.
“Tell ’em how we go to work?”
The Rupert sat there, looking pleased. “Exactly,” he said. “My dear fellow, you’ve got it exactly. Tell them how, as you say, you go to work.”
“But all of that is confidential. Highly confidential. Especially from the dashed Agents. All potential clients of ours, Agents.”
The Rupert waved this aside with a gesture.
“No good wiggling your fingers at me,” I told the fellow. “You know it is. Con-fid-ent-ial.” Said it slowly, so he’d take it in.
“Do consider. It’s not like they can escape you, even if they do know.” Now the Rupert sounded sad.
Well, I’m a fair man, and I saw he was right. Also I saw that the fellow was a bit stuck for Qs. I said I’d do it. And I’d do it myself, because I wouldn’t ask any of my chaps to do this sort of dirty job. Dishing dirt on the Dept. and all. If anyone’s going to do that, it’d better be the top man.
There is a Procedure, of course. We call it SORP (Steps On the Road to Perdition; if we used all the letters, it’d be SOTRTP, which’d be less pronounceable).
It is as Easy as R-I-C. Report, Investigation, Collar.
1) The Report.
We get one, or we write one up. Spies everywhere, you know. And of course there’s the surveillance system, TASE (The All-Seeing Eye). And the back-door into your iDictaBrain. Went in with your Agent Upgrade Package. Virus Protection? That would be us. We see you; we see what you see. Carry on stealing the spoons from the canteen and whatnot, though. We don’t care about that. Stab your immediate superior, for all we care. In a professional way, anyway; privately, we’ll think you Not Quite Quite. In the case of actual murder, we might have a word with the plods in the LPD (Lighthouse Police Department). Not access to the footage, of course. Just a wink, and a nod in your direction. Only if we liked the chap, though.
Of course, we don’t sit there watching TASE footage all the time. Think of the manpower. No, TASE footage feeds into Core. Core then flags areas of concern, and sends the relevant clips to us. The POD (Peeper On Duty) then summarizes and sends the footage on up the chain of command for review, weeding out the petty theft and using his own judgement about the murders (both of which seem to interest Core more than a bit, for some reason). Here are a few examples of what I get on my feed:
Agent 13439–TASE Module 45h, 23:31:09-21–Howling like a dashed wolf.
Agent 09934–TASE Module 7e, 14:20:01-22:45, 15:39:30-16:00:01–Spasms on floor. Possession?
Agent 79485–TASE Module 30z, 05:34:01–35:04–Flickering.
All bad. Which one’s worst, d’you suppose? Which one is most likely to indicate that the Agent in question is Infected by some bounder of an Outer Entity, and thus poses a threat to The Lighthouse (and therefore to All Mankind)?
Got it in one, begad! The flickering it is. For some reason (known, perhaps, to the boffins, but not to yrs. truly), an OE Infection often plays merry hell with Tech. The flickering isn’t visible to the naked eye, but it shows up on the feed.
2) The Investigation.
And here is where I draw a veil over our process. Suffice it to say–you won’t know it is happening. Won’t know anything about it until Step 3. You will notice that.
3) The Collar
We come for you. Don’t think you can escape; you can’t. Every Dock you step on is now designed to lead you directly to Quarantine, so even if you elude our goons, you won’t get far. And those Doors back into The Past? They all lead to Present Day Quarantine, for you.
At that point, you are confined in Quarantine. I won’t tell you where Quarantine is, but assure you that all Quarantine cells are outside of our Time Shields. No matter what you do in Quarantine, The Lighthouse will continue to exist.
Not everyone who goes into Quarantine has to stay there, of course. If that were the case, we’d just call it “prison.” Most of our clients do stay in their cells, or stay there until the boffins tell us either how to safely transfer the client to a different facility or how to humanely destroy the client. And don’t go all wobble-legged at that “humanely destroy” thing. Trust me, Agent, once you’re Infected, you (if “you” still meaningfully exist) will be screaming for oblivion. Really, it is quite unpleasant.
Occasionally, a client is proved to be Uninfected, at which point s/he is released and given cake.
Here are pictures of some of our clients. A glance at these’ll show why my Department is necessary. Notice the distortion evident in each pic.
And that’s it. Oh, except that my Department has nothing to do with the “Quarantine” cell in Experimental Tech. That is a matter that those moffins (mad boffins) have arranged for themselves. Also a damned outrage.