Chapter 2

Sara hated her job.

She thought she liked people. She'd picked up a gig as a librarian because she thought she'd enjoy the human contact. Two days later, she concluded herself to be dead, and most certainly not in heaven. But sadly, she needed money, and the library payed surprisingly well.

Part of the reason she hated her job was because she didn't like people as much as she thought. When she took on the job, she thought she'd have a fun time discussing books and literature with the folks there. Instead, she got old people asking eighty times for the bathroom, little kids throwing books at each other, and creeps trying to hit on her. Even the people who didn't do that never wanted to talk; they just wanted to be out of there as quickly as possible. Naturally, anyone who wanted to actually talk about something meaningful made her day, such as right now.

"Hello there!"

Sara looked up from her book, surprised by the friendly tone. On the other side of her desk stood a man in dark clothes and a cloak, a full smile on his face. Despite the unusual getup, he was fairly attractive, especially considering that he seemed to be fairly older than her.

She smiled back. "How may I help you?"

"I'm new here, was just hoping to take in some knowledge," he said.

Sara raised her eyebrows. "New to the library or new to town?"

The man hesitated. "New to town, you could say."

"Nice to meet you. What kind of books are you looking for here?"

He thought for a moment. "Non-fiction, for certain. I'd say history, geography, stuff like that."

She pointed to her right. "If you go up those stairs, on your right is our non-fiction section. History and geography are going to be together I think, and they'll be in… either the second or third row, do you want me to look it up?"

The man shook his head. "I'm sure I can find it. Thank you very much, miss…?"

A brief moment of silence passed between them, then Sara realized what he was asking. "Oh! Uh, Sara. Sara Green."

He grinned. "Nice to meet you, Sara. I'm Foreman."

Carol Erren hated her job.

She remembered when she'd first joined the Foundation. She was thrilled to be able to explore this vast new world, full of wonder, danger, mystery, excitement. Much of it was dangerous for certain, but she preferred it that way; no pain, no gain, as they say. And she'd certainly dealt with enough danger to have a valid opinion on that front.

Now, she was a Level 5 site director, and she couldn't be more frustrated. Site-153 was a tiny thing out in the middle of Arizona, containing only the most boring of objects. She still conducted plenty of research personally, but all of it was lackluster at best. The most interesting thing she'd dealt with since becoming a director was a plant that cussed out anyone within earshot. Basically, she felt obsolete.

And all of a sudden, as of a week ago, she was in charge of dealing with a mysterious entity from another universe. She'd been sent one of the bigger MTFs, Lambda-5, provided with a decent budget, and was coming up with absolutely nothing. No leads, no intrigue, nothing. Just a spike in weird super-energy, and then nothing else.

She would have loved to dismiss the search, frankly; remaining generically bored was better than searching for something and being bored nonetheless. But if she let an anomaly get away, especially one this evasive and difficult, it was her neck on the line.

She sat at her desk, head in her hands, staring at the same issue of the The Daily Courier for the eighth time. She'd already gotten rid of the clock and its incessant ticking sounds, but the nearby highway still gave her a pounding headache. She felt like a deflated balloon, sustained by eight cups of coffee, two calls to her wife, and a Subway sandwich.

She was ready to just schedule a day off when a notification popped up on her computer. She opened it and looked at the text:

Significant Hume fluctuations detected in Prescott, Arizona.

She sat for a moment, her weary brain still processing everything. Suddenly, she sprung into action.

"Ymir, I need all hands on deck. I'm sending you coordinates, we have a ping!"

"I want a full research team on duty for this one. Send whoever you can, and take them to Lambda-Five."

"Richard, I need two cups of coffee brought to my desk!"

Her feverish brain conflicted with her sudden excitement, but she silently pleaded that something would come out of this.

Aaron Ymir hated his job.

He knew exactly what he wanted out of it: steady income, plenty of time off, but most importantly, some action. He wasn't some romantic, of course; he'd seen what war and destruction caused firsthand. But he did enjoy some excitement, something interesting. He supposed that, in another life, with a few more brains and a few less muscles, he'd be a Foundation scientist.

What he didn't want was much ado about nothing. Sending an MTF into an area isn't as simple as catapulting a few soldiers into an area and mowing everything down with machine guns. Not only would such an endeavor be highly unethical, but it would also be expensive and ineffective. However, Ymir found the MTF deployment process to be just as inefficient. Prepping equipment, debriefing personnel, signing paperwork — oh, the paperwork!

After an eternal few hours, however, came the actual deployment. Finally, Ymir would get something to do.

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