Situational Training (Part 1)

Jon Eckart

ACME detective
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Jon, Jonny, J (single letter), JE (pronounced 'G')
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Situational Training By: Jon Eckart
Started: 6-11-23 Finished:
Guest detectives:
Jill – Rookie Agent, less than a year with a badge
Ron – Agent, almost two years with a badge
Sam (male) – Recent hire, less than a month with a badge
Cho – Transfer from China, almost three years with a badge
Jessica – Transfer from New York office, year and a half with a badge
Brynn – Visiting from Ireland, just over a year with a badge

Other cast:
Two Janitors, Shirley (reception), Jon Eckart, A.D. McDouglas
((OOC: Please note, that being that I cannot get ahold of Chase or any of the board or other long-time members to get permission to use their characters, I chose to use my own characters in their place.
For the time being, Assistant Director Kirk McDouglas from the Philadelphia branch office is filling in for Director Devineaux, being that Chase is on a personal leave.
The board is at a conference in Bern, Switzerland, and Assistant Director McDouglas is handling what the board handles.
Doctor Sophie Conrad is at a medical conference in London. Doctor Linda Collen is filling in for Sophie.
If anyone wants to use these characters for their own stories, go ahead. If you want to expand on them, go ahead.))

(Cue: Warren Zevon – Bad Karma)

Some days, I wondered… was it just destiny that the weirdest things happened to me. Was it something I did in another life? Maybe, the universe was aligned against me, or maybe it was something as simple as I did something in the wrong order after I got out of bed this morning. I didn’t consider myself to be superstitious, but, something told me to grab my rabbit’s foot, St. Christopher medal, add a dash of holy water to my coffee, check what my lucky numbers were today, help a little old nun cross the street, and take the long way to work (totally avoiding 13th Avenue and also avoiding 13th Street)… but, I wasn’t superstitious… so, if nothing else, none of that would make a difference.

Nobody at the office had heard from Chase for over a year now, and Director McDouglas had made himself at home in Chase’s office, moving the desk and bookshelf around, had boxed up Chase’s belongings and stored them in Chase’s locker near the showers. Nobody was really sure what to make of that move, but we treated him like one of our own (for the most part… on occasion, we would find him sitting in his office speaking backwar
ds Russian and Sanskrit into his phone, which bothered/disturbed a couple other Agents).

One of McDouglas’ first orders of business had been to erect a nine-foot wall around the whole campus, with several normal sized doors around it, along with gates for the medical center. They were all keyed for Agents and staff, and a few had buzzers for civilians. Nobody was sure why, being that the Agency was a building open to the public, and that nothing we did was considered secret or needed to be guarded beyond the security throughout
the campus.

This particular Thursday (what is it about Thursdays… I don’t think it’s just me… I don’t think anyone can get the hang of them, but maybe possibly it’s just me, but I digress), the offices were pretty devoid of anyone. Just the gal (believe her name is Shirley) at the front desk, a few Agents on my floor, and a couple janitors… the janitors did not look familiar, but that wasn’t that unusual… for some reason, they seemed to have a high turnover (I never heard why). The fact that there were so few Agents around the building raised my eyebrow a bit.

After about two hours of looking through the few files on my computer, and checking any open files that other Agents had been working on, I went through the building and gathered the handful of Agents together and had an impromptu conference in the first room we found.

“Alright, so here it is… just gonna lay it out there. Something odd is going on; I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d like to get to the bottom of it, if there is anything to get to the bottom of. Has anyone heard from anyone who isn’t here with us?” Everybody shook their heads,

“No, I haven’t, and I usually get at least a “Hello” text from Billy every morning, he’s my neighbor at my desk.” Jill answered, looking up from her cell phone. Two of the others from their group of six checked theirs and agreed with Jill.

“Alright, so, for now at least, it seems we’re the only Agents in the building. I think it would be safe to assume that there must be some note or mention someplace of where they went or what they’re working on. We just have to find it, so I’m thinking a floor-by-floor search might work.” A few agreements went up through the abbreviated group, and we split up. I took the upper five floors (the Agency only had one main elevator, along with a freight elevator that required a key), so as the elevator dropped everyone off on their floor, I was the last one let off it, so I stopped it there, and locked each stairway door I found. The search of each floor took about fifteen minutes; there were doughnuts, warm coffees, a still-burning incense (at a Pagan agent’s desk, she was pretty cool people), files and notebooks with pens hastily dropped as if whatever happened occurred suddenly.

As I was leaving the 38th floor, there was a flash behind me; I turned around and was more than surprised to see that all the computers on the floor had bluescreened at once, and I realized I had not taken any real note of what was open on the computers, instead focusing on what was on the desks. Thinking quickly, I sent off messages to the other Agents who were searching the building with me, telling them to take pictures or write down what was displayed on the computer screens, just in case there was something important that might help solve this mass disappearance. When we all gathered three hours later in the lobby, we found that Shirley was no longer at her reception desk, seemingly having disappeared just like all the rest of the Agents in the building.

“Okay… so, what’d you guys find?” I asked. At the same time, Jill and Ron spoke up about an odd language that they both found displayed on the computers before they bluescreened. They each pulled up pictures of the language, as did I and the other three Agents, and we compared the images.

language.jpg

We all either shook our heads or shrugged, with Sam stating it looked kind of familiar but he couldn’t remember why. A couple of them uploaded the image to Google Lens to see if it could possibly figure it out, but shouted in surprise when the webpages refused to load. I took out my cell phone and checked a couple of regular websites I frequent, and they wouldn’t load. We all tried checking our Agency email accounts, and those also failed.

“Okay… it looks like we have some sort of problem, and I’m thinking we should bring in the outside authorities so we can hopefully get to the bottom of whatever this is.” I suggested, looking up from my cell phone.

“Yeah, but… remember, the gate is controlled by the computer at Shirley’s desk,” Jill glanced at the computer and found it was bluescreened as well, “and it’s also bluescreened.”

“What about climbing over it with a couple ladders? There must be a couple around here… maybe in the janitors closets or the basement or someplace. It wouldn’t seem right if when the system goes down we get trapped in here.” The group checked the nearby janitorial closets and found they needed a keycard to open the doors.
“Well, we should be able to fix the phone issue through the server room. Wasn’t that up on 40?” Brynn asked. With a sinking feeling, I answered that I had come through there on my search for other Agents, and had locked the doors behind me as I searched each floor. There was some upset finger-pointing and blaming before Jessica spoke up.

“Hey, guys… we should hit the library and see what that clue says… odds are, it’s something useful to our situation. What floor is the library on?”

“It’s on 26, but it would be locked like all the rest of the doors now. We should be able to get into the library over at the Academy. If I remember right from my Academy days, the library over there is pretty similar to the one in here in Accolade. Come on, let’s go!” I motioned, and we left out the main door, making sure to leave a rock in the way of the door so we didn’t get locked out. After a few minutes of circumnavigating the base of Accolade Tower, we made it to the Academy’s library. The building was in the same state as the Tower; it looked like everyone had just disappeared, leaving books open and words half-finished on notebooks. The group headed into the shelves looking for books on languages, and came back to one of the tables with stacks of books on languages; two of us chose books on older languages, one of us chose to go the history route, and the other three had found a collection of typeface samples.
 
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    ((Will lose my ACP internet towards the end of the month, unless anyone knows about it ending sooner. Trying to switch my Lifeline phone to a better provider that doesn't shut me off after four and a half gigs of data, nothing but failure so far and "call here" and "it's on their end" and the back and forth crap... in the morning, it's time to demand the supervisor and might even get to harsh language (after three days of that). I plan to use the Lifeline phone tethered as Internet source, share that to my own router... I've done it before (it's messy, and not 100% effective, but it works). ))
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    ((The 'net is the main way to apply for jobs now, so I need that, and I've moved/changed Lifeline providers before without an issue, so no idea what the problem is. I have active Verizon through ACP, active Lifeline through Airtalk... is that somehow the issue? If anyone knows, please let me know before I tear someone a new one (ya know what I mean). After three days of this, and two days about a month ago, I'm ready to walk there with katana in hand.))
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    ((And, thoughout this process, I want to port my number (have the info for that) and use the phone I have (Samsung Galaxy S9... gotten for free through Airtalk... note to anyone: if you choose a nice phone through them, you are locked into a 120 day "commitment" to get the phone for free, and they have a very hard data limit... once you use up your data, they cut you off, point blank.))
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